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Gators starter Logan Shore was named National Freshman of Year by Perfect Game on Thursday. (Photo: Tim Casey)

Thursday July 3, 2014Shore's Goal-Oriented Approach Paid Huge Dividends During First Season at UF

Gators starter Logan Shore was named National Freshman of Year by Perfect Game on Thursday. (Photo: Tim Casey)

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Don Bright wanted to see for himself what others had told him.

The longtime assistant baseball coach at Coon Rapids (Minn.) High had heard about a freshman pitcher/outfielder on the junior varsity team that perhaps had the talent and temperament to play varsity.

“We had never looked at a ninth-grader,’’ Bright said. “Generally, we are a junior-senior program. I kept hearing about this young man. Finally, I watched him in the field house at practice one day. I thought to myself, ‘yep, we need to take a look at him with our boys.’ ’’

A few days later Bright and Coon Rapids head coach Jerry Coe were on the team bus headed to face perennial Minnesota powerhouse Cretin-Derham Hall High of St. Paul in a preseason scrimmage. That’s the school that produced Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer and big-league Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.

The subject of Logan Shore came up. They had to decide on how to use him in the scrimmage.

“Well, we’re going to bat him third and start him on the mound,’’ Bright said. “He fit right in from that moment on. He is just special. Those kinds don’t come along very often.”

The Gators can relate. Shore’s freshman season at UF played out in similar fashion. He was named National Freshman of the Year on Thursday by PerfectGame.org.

Shore continues to pile up awards after one of the best freshman seasons by a pitcher in school history. Shore finished 7-4 with a 2.16 ERA while anchoring the rotation by moving into the coveted Friday night starter’s role when the conference schedule opened. Shore is the first Gators pitcher to be named SEC Freshman of the Year.

Logan Shore

UF's Logan Shore, No. 32, reacts after no-hitter in high school. (Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune)

Shore is also the rare UF player from the upper Midwest. A 29th-round pick of the hometown Minnesota Twins last summer, Shore already had committed to the Gators. He attended the 2011 College World Series in Omaha with his mother and watched the Gators face South Carolina in the championship series.

He had just finished his sophomore season of high school and gazed into the future.

“I feel like I can pitch at this level, which is sort of crazy for me to think,’’ Shore told his mom.

Shore participated in summer camps around the country and made contact with the Gators.

“He kind of sold himself to Florida and then they saw him,’’ Bright said. “He wasn’t one of those Southern boys they had seen play a lot.”

By the time Shore stepped onto the rubber last June for the state playoffs, he had already signed with the Gators. Still, he gave assistant coach Craig Bell a good show for making the trip from Florida to watch him pitch.

Shore threw his first no-hitter in a 2-0 win over Wayzata to advance Coon Rapids to the Minnesota Class 3A semifinals. Afterward, he signed a few autographs as fans wanted a keepsake to commemorate the moment.

A few weeks later, Shore was just another freshman trying to fit in with the Gators.

His goals were modest.

“I set goals for myself in everything that I do,’’ Shore said. “My goal for myself was No. 1, to pitch -- I didn’t care what it was. I just wanted to get some innings. Going into the season my goal was to be in a reliever position on the weekends.”

Shore did not take the mound the first weekend of the season. His first appearance for the Gators was a mid-week start against UCF. After that, Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan kept handing him the ball and Shore did the rest.

“You’ve got to grow up and you’ve got to grow up fast,’’ Shore said this week from home where he was on the way to watch a Twins game at Target Field. “I really grew up. Obviously there are good baseball players in Minnesota, but nothing like playing high school baseball in Florida.

“I wasn’t really used to being around top-tier talent all the time. That was something that was huge for me. I got a lot stronger mentally from when I left high school.”

Another factor in Shore’s success is that he lost 12 pounds after arriving at UF and starting the program’s offseason conditioning drills. He said that helped him stay stronger during the longer college season. He led the Gators with 95 2/3 innings pitched, nearly 40 more than anyone else on the staff (Bobby Poyner pitched 57 innings).

Shore also started to develop his slider – he was primarily a fastball and change-up pitcher in high school – and a two-seam fastball that O’Sullivan urged him to use to keep hitters off balance.

He knows that SEC teams will have a better scouting report on him in Year 2.

Bright expects Shore to make whatever adjustments necessary. He saw him do it over and over in high school. Bright met Shore and some of his friends for dinner last week to catch up and watch Vanderbilt and Virginia in the CWS.

At one point Bright said he asked Shore what he plans to do to improve prior to next season.

“He thought about it for a second and said, ‘I’ve got to make my slider better. My slider has to get better,’ ’’ Bright said. “He’s pretty advanced in the mental part, too.”

Shore is resting his arm this summer but has an eye focused on the start of fall practice. All the awards are nice, but doing what it takes to earn them is what Shore likes most.

“I feel really honored and I’m just looking forward to next year,’’ Shore said. “I know we’ve got some new freshmen coming in and I’m looking forward to getting back out there in fall ball working hard with the team and hopefully make a run to Omaha next year.”

 

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