Phoenix College is proud to announce that PC Baseball player Nick Ryan has been named to the postseason All-Region I Division II team. The Bears' freshman shortstop earned 2nd Team honors on All-Region I. The announcement comes following the conclusion of the ACCAC postseason coaches' meetings at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.
It's certainly a testament to Ryan's ability and production that he was considered the Bears' best player throughout the 2014 season-not just by his coach but by other coaches-despite having to fight through an injury that forced him to the sideline in the heart of the season, and caused nagging pain through the last month of games. The native of Naperville, Illinois came to the Valley of the Sun with high expectations after getting accolades from such national networks as ESPN while playing baseball at Naperville Central High School. With that said, though, Ryan spent his first year at PC redshirting due to a high school injury, and PC Head Baseball Coach Kevin Kimball wasn't about to just hand his freshman phenom the starting shortstop job coming into 2014 camp. By the time the clock literally struck midnight to start the Bears' 2014 season (they hosted the first NJCAA Baseball game played anywhere this season at 12:01AM on January 31st), Ryan had not only entrenched himself into the heart of the Bears' starting infield, but had already put himself in line to be the team's best player. From there, Ryan's stellar defense kept opposing hitters at bay, and his bat quickly adjusted to college pitching after a 4-for-4 day in mid-February against eventual ACCAC Regular Season Champion Mesa.
Ryan actually strung together a 14-game hitting streak that lasted until mid-March until disaster struck. Ryan was hit by a pitch while trying to bunt against Glendale, fracturing the thumb on his right (throwing) hand. It forced him to miss the next nine games, and even when he returned in early April, he played through pain for the rest of the season. Not that opponents could tell, since he batted .358 during the season's final month, including another 9-game hitting streak that propelled him to the top of the Bears' offensive leaders. By the time the Bears walked off the field for the final time last week, Ryan was their leader in batting average (.335), hits (53), runs scored (35), and was 2nd in both doubles (14, T-11th ACCAC) and triples (4, T-9th ACCAC). He also had a home run (hit against defending Region I DII Champion Scottsdale), 20 RBI (3rd on the squad) and 6 stolen bases.
His coach hopes that the grittiness his shortstop showed throughout the year will be an inspiration to both him and his teammates when he returns for his sophomore season in 2014-15. "Nick showed all year long what a tough kid he is, but especially over the last month of the season," remarked Kimball. "We're expecting him to be one of the leaders of the team-both from an emotional and physical standpoint-next year. We're looking for him to build on the offensive stats that he had this year, and his work ethic and character makes us awfully excited that he's coming back, and about what he can accomplish." The Bears finished the 2014 campaign with a 25-30 overall record and a 12-26 mark in ACCAC play.
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