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Cobb provides senior leadership for Scott City
Scott City senior Skylar Cobb is not one for individual accomplishments, so it came as a surprise to his coach when his small-framed outfielder offered his goals for the 2010 high school baseball season.
"You know coach, I want to hit a home run. I never hit one in my whole career. Little League, all the way up, over the fence, I never hit one," Scott City coach Lance Amick said as recalled the conversation with a smile.
Amick was taken back by the wishful Cobb, who he considers to be among the most team-first players he's ever coached. He tried to be assuring that a home run trot might be in the future of the 5-foot-8 outfielder, who weighed all of about 135 pounds at the time.
"I said, 'It will come. Get in the weight room, get a little stronger,'" Amick said.
Cobb hit the weights hard this past year, and Amick even joined him for the workouts.
Cobb might not look much bigger at 145 pounds, but his bench press has gone from about 175 pounds to 215 since October.
The dividends of his work were immediate. The left-handed throwing Cobb, who swings right-handed, batted leadoff for the Rams in their season opener at home.
"Against New Madrid, first pitch of the season, 'Boom.' Center field, it's over the fence," Amick said.
Home run No. 2 has yet to come, but the story is not without its lesson.
"If he puts his mind to something, it's probably going to get done," Amick said. "I sure wouldn't doubt him."
Cobb's mind largely is set on winning baseball games, and he accomplishes it with his legs, arm, glove, bat and mind.
Cobb, a four-year starter, has been a fixture in center field with a dependable glove and is among the team's top pitchers, hitters and base stealers.
"I want to do everything I can," Cobb said. "I don't want to be a player that just does one thing, and if something happens we can't use him here. I want to be good in every situation I can be in. That will help the team in a lot more ways than just one. I want to be a smart player and help my team win games."
He's the leader of the 6-2 Rams after a landslide vote by his peers as captain of the varsity basketball team earlier this year.
Despite his small stature, Cobb averaged around 14 points a game while running the team's offense at point guard.
"You just go out there and play harder than people," Cobb said. "[My size] can be an advantage, too. With my speed and athleticism, I'm small and I can just go by people."
Scott City senior pitcher Corey Speakman also was a teammate of Cobb's in basketball.
"I don't know a sport that he's bad at," Speakman said. "We'll be around school and we'll just be playing ping-pong or something like that, and he's not bad at any sport that I saw. ... He's got natural talent, but he does put in a lot of work."
That determination and savvy on the court and baseball field also translates to the classroom, where Cobb is an honor student.
"If you could measure his heart, he'd probably be about a 6-8, 260-pound human being," Amick said. "There's no doubt about it, he's one of my favorite kids of all time. He'll be missed around here."
Cobb, who will continue his baseball career next season at Three Rivers Community College, and outfielder Chris Limbaugh are the only two current Rams that started on Scott City's Class 2 state championship team in 2008. Cobb played center field and an important part for the state champions. He batted .350 his sophomore season and contributed with his bat, glove and legs on the road to the title. In a quarterfinal victory against Clearwater, Cobb doubled late in the game and scored the tying run.
"That was probably the greatest thing to happen to me probably ever that has to do with sports," Cobb said of the state title.
He batted .406 as a junior and was batting .555 through the first seven games of his senior season.
"The way the ball is coming off my bat, I can tell I've gotten stronger," Cobb said. "I'm just hitting the ball harder and with more authority."
His array of baseball talents were on display in a 9-7 win against Dexter last week. Cobb played flawless defense for six innings in center field then moved to the mound to strike out two batters in the seventh for the save despite pitching five innings and getting the win a day earlier. Cobb also stole home on the front end of a double steal and went 2 for 3 at the plate.
Cobb said he is a big sports fanatic and a huge Cardinals fan. His favorite player used to be Jim Edmonds, and he modeled his defensive game on the left-handed center fielder. Like Edmonds, Cobb plays a shallow center and comfortably retreats on deep balls.
"I love playing center field," Cobb said. "I always have since I was a kid. When we were in Little League, all the kids were wanting to hit, and I could go out in the outfield and take fly balls all day. That was just fun for me. I don't know why."
His love for playing the outfield shows in his play.
"I saw him make some amazing plays in the outfield," Speakman said. "He caught balls you never thought he would catch up to, and he did."
Three Rivers signed Cobb primarily as a pitcher. While Cobb prefers to play the outfield, he's not about to turn his back on a dream.
"That's been my goal since I started high school, really," Cobb said. "You always think about that when you're younger. You watch the major league games and you always want to be a major league baseball player. But when you get into high school, you see that playing in college is a realistic goal. After Three Rivers, I can go to a four-year school somewhere, that's my goal after that. I just want to play baseball somewhere in college."
Amick is hoping Cobb will get a shot to display his range of talents at the next level.
"Three Rivers is looking at him mainly for pitching, but I'm hoping he gets over there and they let him swing a bat and figure out that he can do that," Amick said. "He can definitely play in the outfield. I don't know, I believe he can swing the bat at that level, but it remains to be seen. He's always one where if you give him a chance, he's probably going to prove you wrong."
But before college there is some unfinished business.
"My No. 1 goal is to bring a district championship back to Scott City," Cobb said. "After that we'll take it one game at a time and hopefully win a state championship. That's our goal every year. Once you win that, you want to go back and keep doing it."
It's different with home runs. He's hit one, but don't look for Cobb to perfect his home run trot.
"That's all right," Cobb said of not hitting any more over the fence. "I like running the bases."