Ryder Ryan has received nearly every honor a high school player can achieve, earning All-American (Baseball America, Perfect Game, etc.), all-state, all-region, all-conference honors and All-Observer honors.But the 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior, 18, who signed with the University of North Carolina last fall and boasts a 93-mph fastball, isn’t even close to satisfied with his game.“I’m always trying to get better, every time I step on the field, in the batting cage, or do any other workout,” said Ryan, who also plays year-round with the South Charlotte Panthers. “There’s always the next thing, the next game. I can’t get enough baseball, I just keep going and going.”His father, Sean Ryan, a former professional baseball player who made it to Triple-A with the Phillies’ organization and is now North Meck head baseball coach, loves his son’s approach.“We have a saying in our house, ‘Always make sure your hat fits,’” said Sean Ryan, noting that he learned the saying from his uncle, Ed Madjeski, who played in the major leagues for 14 years. “I think Ryder has done a great job of not letting his success go to his head. In fact, he probably couldn’t tell you half the honors he has won. He is always looking at the bigger picture.”After hitting .593 with five home runs, 29 RBI and going 5-3 on the mound with 109 strikeouts and 0.72 earned-run average last spring for North Meck, Ryan remembers his final game of last season most.In a 10-0 loss to Olympic in the first round of the playoffs, Ryan gave up all 10 runs on nine hits with four walks.But instead of letting it bother him, he has used it as motivation all offseason. “That was a tough way to end the season,” Sean Ryan said. “But it was also great learning experience for him. You are going to have bad games, but it’s all about how you handle it and move forward.”Ryan had a great summer, hitting well over .400 for the South Charlotte Panthers while competing in several big showcase events, like the East Coast Pro Showcase. He was even invited to try out for the U.S. National team in Cary.Ryan was often playing in front of a couple hundred scouts, including both college and pro.“You know scouts are always going to be there, so you just have to get used it,” said Ryan, who usually plays third base or catcher when he is not on the mound. “I’ve learned to block all that stuff out and just play baseball.” While Ryan is the constant focus of his opponents (especially on North Meck), whether he is at the plate, where he doesn’t get a lot of good pitches to hit, or on the mound, where every batter is looking to prove they can hit his fastball, he looks forward to it.“I want to face the best of the best,” Ryan said. “I know I’m not always going to win (each battle), but I love the challenge.”With his future for Coach Mike Fox and the North Carolina set, Ryan is focused on enjoying his final season at North Meck.With all nine starters back, including standouts like catcher/pitcher Zack Ruttkamp, his younger brother, River Ryan, and Michael Coss leading the way for a team that went from 8-18 in 2012 to 13-12 last year, the Vikings have even bigger expectations.“We have our whole team and lineup back, so we are really excited about this year,” Ryan said. “For me, it’s my last shot, so I want to make it count, win a conference title and go to the playoffs and see how far we can take it.”
Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014
Ryan looks to be a big hit for North Meck, again
5 Lake Norman News baseball players to watch
Ryder Ryan North Meck
Senior – Pitcher/3B
All-American (numerous publications including Perfect Game, Baseball America), all-state, University of North Carolina signee gets it done equally on the mound (109 strikeouts, 0.72 earned-run average) and at plate (.593, 5 home runs).
Brandon Casas Hough
Senior – Pitcher/Infielder
All I-Meck pitcher, Furman University signee is back to lead Huskies after striking out 75 batters with a 1.76 ERA as junior.
Drew Ober Hough
Junior – 3B
Will take on a bigger role for Huskies, after hitting .370 with 19 RBI as sophomore, a Division I recruit, according to Hough coach Jimmy Cochran.
Devin Bagwell SouthLake Christian
Senior – Pitcher
Charlotte 49ers’ signee will be major factor on the mound (4-1 last year) and at plate (.321, 2 HR) for a team with NCISAA Division 3 title aspirations.
Lamar Briggs Davidson Day
Senior – Catcher
All-state catcher (.472, 40 runs last year) is back to lead Patriots (state semifinalist last year), has major interest from Jackson State, Maryland and more, after originally committing to Temple (which dropped its program).
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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