Among the slew of recognizable last names on the University of South Carolina’s baseball team, another one is being added as we speak. And, it’s not just any famous last name. It’s the name of a former baseball giant, a legend…it’s Ripken.
Ripken is ranked as the No. 304 player in the country by Perfect Game. A 6-foot-5, 195-pounder, Ripken had his best performance of the year in Jupiter, Fla., a couple of weekends ago at the Perfect Game World Championships, where he was 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles in a pool-clinching victory over the Diamond Devils, a team that the Gamecocks heavily recruit.
He committed to the Gamecocks over Wake Forest, Coastal Carolina and Maryland after visiting campus last week.
“I wasn’t really even looking at South Carolina until coach (Chad) Holbrook reached out to me by email last spring,” Ripken said. “A relationship developed, the summer went on, and I came down to look at the school. One thing led to another and that’s kind of how it went.”
Last week was Ryan and his father, Cal Ripken Jr.’s, second time on campus. The two visited over the summer to see the program. Ryan narrowed his college choices in recent weeks and decided it was time to pledge to the Gamecocks.
After visiting, he took a couple of days to stew over his decision, and on Sunday, he called Holbrook, the team’s recruiting coordinator, and gave him the news.
“It was a family decision,” Ripken said. “My parents have my best interest at heart. It was my ultimate decision and there wasn’t any pressure. They said I could go anywhere that would give me an opportunity. We narrowed it down to four schools and it could have been any of those.”
Ripken cited the coaching staff and the campus, which “is a lot different from what I’m used to,” as a couple of the biggest factors in his decision.
“As for hitting, I think I still have to grow into my power. I feel pretty good swinging the bat. Overall, the reason I want to go to South Carolina is develop and become a better player. Baseball is a game where you can always get better.”
With his pedigree, it’s no wonder that a feel for the game and a high baseball I.Q. comes easily.
“Overall, my thought process and things like that, comes from my dad,” Ripken said. “We play completely different positions but baseball I.Q. and learning things, which is the most important part, he’s taught me how to play the game.”
Ripken joins Curt Britt at the first base position in the 2012 class and is the 15th commitment of the class and one of four left-handed hitters. But, don’t get confused. Just because he has a famous last name and father doesn’t mean he expects to be given any handouts.
“The opportunity to come in and work for a spot and be a part of the team, that was kind of what made my decision,” Ripken said. “I look forward to working hard and getting the opportunity to prove myself at a great baseball program with great baseball guys.”