Kutter Crawford to pitch for Florida Gulf Coast University

OKEECHOBEE — Another Crawford is headed to a Division I school to take the mound.

Kutter Crawford announced he had earned a scholarship from Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers to pitch for their baseball program starting in 2017.

Crawford will pitch his second year of college this year for Indian River State College in Ft. Pierce.

A signing party for Crawford was held at Lunker’s Sports Grill in late December to celebrate his accomplishment.

Crawford is listed at 6’0” and 175 pounds on the Pioneers Roster but continues to grow in height and stature on the mound.

Kutter Crawford to pitch at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Kutter Crawford to pitch at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Last year Crawford was a key player for the Pioneers who struggled through a (13-30) campaign. Crawford saw time around the infield, primarily at third base and batted .287, knocked in 10 runs, scored eight runs, and had an on base percentage of .360.

On the mound Crawford threw 47 innings, allowed 61 hits and 22 earned runs, an earned run average of 4.15. He also struck out 38 batters which amounted to 7.17 strikeouts per game.

Crawford said it felt great to have former teammates, friends and family on hand to celebrate his big moment. He said his freshman year could have been better but he thinks he will improve this year.

“I look to have a good year this year and look for improvement. As an older pitcher I want to be a leader and I hope to lead the staff and have a good season,” he said.

Last year Crawford played with former teammates Alex Estremara and Dalton Murray. This year he will be joined by former Brahman Austin Hamilton.

Crawford said adjustment to college took some time. He had to get in the routine of going to school and studying, making sure he ate right, and put in his work to keep his baseball skills sharp.

“It’s definitely tougher than high school because the season is twice as long.

You play four games per week in the middle of the day so you get drained,” he noted.

Crawford hit the weight room and worked out hard during the season and the off season. He focused his lifts on his legs and shoulders. He said a key for any pitcher is to not get drained and always be at their best.

Five opposing players were drafted by major league teams last June and Crawford said that is always a possibility for him this year. He continues to work on his off-speed pitches and improving his velocity.

While his fastball was mostly in the mid-80s last season, the ole number 1 has increase to 90-91 mph at times this year.

“My workouts in the summer definitely worked. I took the next jump in velocity and I’m getting stronger. My velocity will eventually increase,” he said.

Crawford also refused to pick up a baseball for several months last spring so he could get the rest he needed and focus on his workouts.

Florida Gulf Coast Coaches had watched him pitch last season, called him after a game, and said they were interested. Crawford said he wanted to pitch for a Division I school and had FGCU on his original list. He visited the campus, was offered the scholarship, thought about it for about a week, got advice from his parents, and then decided to accept.

“It was a good offer. My family and I came to the conclusion that the school would be a good fit for me,” he said.

Crawford will pitch once per week and perhaps play at designated hitter for the Pioneers this year. He will not play third base again because the position involves a lot of hard throws and he wants to save his best tosses for the pitcher’s mound.

“I know my future is as a pitcher. I love to hit but playing third base three times per week takes a lot out of you. I want to be at my best every time I take the mound,” he said.

Crawford prides himself on his knowledge of the game and his fundamentals. He was one of those players who could play at any position and excel at them.

He said his father Neal told him he needed to learn the entire game and every position because you couldn’t predict the future and what position a team might ask him to play.

Kutter said he expects to have goose bumps once he takes the mound against Division I teams in front of thousands of fans but stressed he feels he’s mature enough to handle the challenge.

“It won’t be given to me and I have to work for it. I just have to go there, prove myself and show them that I have what it takes,” he added.

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