A few hours before a recent game, Ardrey Kell was taking batting practice. As players rotated in and out, one noise stood out.
When Logan Ratledge hit the ball, the ping of the bat was a little louder.
When he's hitting, he's all business. He steps into the batters box. He focuses his eyes on the ball leaving the pitchers hand.
"I have been seeing the ball really well this year," the Knights senior shortstop said recently. "I have been making good contact and go up to the plate with the same approach every time."
Ratledge leads the Knights in nearly every offensive category. As of April 15 he was among the region's leaders in doubles (7), runs batted in (25), home runs (7) and batting average (.529).
Ratledge also is nearly flawless as a shortstop.
"He has waited his turn. He was a really good player the last three years, but this is his team," says Ardrey Kell coach Hal Bagwell. "This is Logan Ratledge's team this year and the guys really follow him. He sets a great example and works hard and never takes plays off. He is a great leader."
Ratledge started his freshman year on the junior varsity team, but was called up after the third game of the season. Since then, he has been a constant.
"I learned from the older guys what it really takes to be a winner. They did a great job of keeping me calm and really showed me what to do," Ratledge said.
"Some of the guys like Alex Wood are guys that I really looked up to when I was younger and coming up. Those guys have made me a better player and teammate today."
The Knights are tied with Providence in the conference standings and are ranked 41st nationally on ESPN's high school baseball poll. They'll wrap-up the season with a rematch against Providence. That game will determine the conference champions and seeding in the Southwest 4A and state tournaments.
Ardrey Kell did not make the state tournament finals last year, but had been in the final series each year since 2007 and won the state tournament in 2009.
"I want to first win another state title and win conference this year for sure," Ratledge said. "I really want to bring another ring home to close out my career for me and my school.
"We have a real good shot to get back to state champions."
Ratledge signed with NC State after his sophomore year. However, right now, the focus is Providence. "Providence is very good...but we know we can beat anyone and want another championship. We want it bad," Ratledge said.
Bagwell has seen a lot of players, and has coached a lot of talent at Ardrey Kell. He said Ratledge is one of the best to ever play for the Knights.
"If there is another player out there who is better than Logan, I would pay to see him play."