By: T.J. Hug
The Village Reporter
Stryker Baseball Coach Brett Grieser felt a great deal of pride in his team following their 2015 campaign, and the annual Stryker Baseball Awards gave him the perfect forum for which to express it.
Grieser began the evening by recapping the highs and lows of the recently completed season. He spoke of the Tyrel Patterson single that earned Stryker an early season win over BBC rival Edon. That it was such a young player to drive in the only run of the contest was not lost on the coach.
“If you were to tell me, before the game, that we’d go seven innings against Edon, and Landon Bloir had given up just one hit, and it would be Tyrel who would hit a walkoff single off of him to drive in Austin (Frisbe) for the win,” said Grieser, “I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Other highlights of the year included sweeping both the Bombers and North Central, as well as going on a seven game winning streak mid-way through the season.
The end of that winning streak came shortly after the toughest moment of 2015 for Stryker Baseball. During a game against Paulding, sophomore catcher/pitcher/utility player Colton Benson slid head first into second base. He suffered a head injury which kept him off of the field for the remainder of the season, and will continue to do so throughout ACME Baseball during the Summer months. Thankfully, Benson will be okay, and might even be able to play baseball again one day.
As for the awards themselves, senior Parker Ruffer was the big winner on the evening. Ruffer earned both the Hitting and Pitching Awards. Though one may argue that the distinctions should have been spread out amongst the players, few could devise an effective counter to his .506 batting average and 80 plus strikeouts over the course of the season. That batting average also put him in the Stryker .300 Club, for which he was given a medal, along with teammates Brody Shock and Chad Ruffer.
“He did a great job for us, and he’ll go on to do fantastic things at Toledo.” Grieser stated, referring to Ruffer’s college destination.
Shock was handed the Defense Award. The honor was well earned, as Grieser pointed out that the sophomore standout had just two errors all year long. It was also Shock’s versatility and willingness to play multiple positions that made him the clear choice for the team’s best defensive player.
Chad Ruffer received the label of Most Improved Player. His pitching skills had matured from last year, as had his hitting ability. Even the junior’s fielding had gotten better. These developments were most encouraging for his coach.
“If he makes a similar leap next year, he’ll do good things,” commented Grieser.
The Coach’s Award was given to Benson. His value to the team was already appreciated before his injury, but losing him during the back half of the season really clarified just how much he meant to the Panther squad.
“That seven game winning streak ended after Colton got injured,” Grieser recalled, “and that wasn’t a coincidence.”
The last award to be handed out on the evening was the Matt Perdue Award. Perdue was a player and die hard fan of Panther Baseball,who continuously came back to Stryker to support the team long after his graduation from the school. His passing led to the creation of the award in his honor,which is to be handed out to the most enthusiastic and eager player on the squad each year. The 2015 recipient was senior Cody Hall.
T.J. Hug can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.