Prep Baseball Report

Cruickshank Excited To Compete At South Florida

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Canada Senior Writer

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Cruickshank Excited To Compete At South Florida

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Liam Cruickshank RHP / OF / Loyola Catholic Secondary, ON / 2024

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario - Liam Cruickshank has found a college home during a gap year of training after graduating from Loyola Catholic Secondary.

The University of South Florida, located 20 hours from Mississauga, is the future destination for the 14th-rated 2024 right-handed pitcher in Ontario after making a commitment to the American Athletic Conference school.

“I moved from the Ontario Blue Jays to Georgia Premier and they had a showcase and South Florida saw me there,” reflected Cruickshank, explaining that the Blue Jays have no 18U program which resulted in the move. “They liked what they saw and wanted me to come on a visit. I went in early October and they said they wanted to see me pitch again. They saw me pitch in Florida and that’s when I got my offer. I took it three weeks later.”

The reasons were numerous according to the 18-year-old, whose college decision came down to Georgia Southern and USF.

“They have a good history of developing pro players,” Cruickshank noted. “For me personally, I love the heat, it livens up the arm. They’re good academically which is important to my parents and to me. And they have nice facilities.”

What stood out about the 30th-ranked 2024 in Ontario was “pitchability” according to Cruickshank.

“My frame probably had a little something to do with it,” the 6-4 200-pounder pointed out.

Improvement during 2023 was vital in the process.

“At the beginning of the year I was only 84-86 for the most part,” Cruickshank explained. “I was working through some things and then it started to click, especially throwing offspeed for strikes and finishing hitters off. I made my delivery as repeatable as possible and now I’m 88-91.”

It was a short recruiting process for Cruickshank, who was 13 when college baseball became something he desired in his future.

“I won the Canadian National championship when I was 13 and realized baseball was the thing I wanted to do,” Cruickshank said. “In August I went to the Procase and after that saw my first recruiting interest. That really helped. PBR gave good coverage and schools reached out. PBR definitely played a role.”

Admittedly, Cruickshank has a hard time believing a commitment to South Florida is a reality.

“Playing in Florida was my dream,” Cruickshank noted. “I dreamed about it but I never imagined it would happen. I didn’t think it would, so this is really meaningful.”

The hard-throwing right-hander was quick to give credit to assistance along the way.

“Every coach with the Ontario Blue Jays helped and so did Gary Cates and Gene Reynolds with Georgia Premier,” Cruickshank said. “They’re the reason South Florida was able to see me.”

Prior to hooking up with his new team, Georgia Premier, there was some doubt.

“Before my jump I was really stressed about where I’d end up,” Cruickshank admitted. “Once I got my velo and command up at the beginning of August/end of summer I thought someone had to take me.”

When it happened, Cruickshank was thrilled.

“It was one of the happiest moments of my life, that’s for sure,” Cruickshank said of making his commitment. “My mom was over the moon and my dad was excited for me to be able to play Division I baseball.”

Business will be the college major for Cruickshank, who graduated with a 3.6 GPA.

“I’m excited to work with the coaches at South Florida and compete on one of the highest stages there is,” Cruickshank concluded. “It’s what I live for. I love to compete.”

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