It takes a special player to enter one of the top baseball schools in the nation as a freshman and instantly become one of the best players on the team. That’s exactly what Ryan Braun has done.
Braun is the team leader in almost every offensive category, including batting average, on base percentage, home runs, and runs batted in. He has given the Canes, who were 21-4 entering Sunday’s game against Georgia Tech, some much-needed power in the middle of the lineup.
“As a freshman, he’s hitting 3rd in the lineup,” Head Coach Jim Morris said. “He’s worked hard and he’s a great student. He’s done a great job for us.”
As a freshman Braun faces many new challenges on and off the field. A baseball player at UM must live up to lofty expectations and as a student one has to go through what the typical freshman experiences while adjusting to a new lifestyle. Braun has responded admirably to these demands.
“I expected to come in to this program and for it to be extremely challenging,” Braun said. I think I’ve responded to that challenge well. It’s just a matter of being confident and believing in yourself.”
Braun has had a flare for the dramatic as well. In the clutch, it seems like Braun always delivers and that can be attributed to the confidence that he displays on the field.
“Hitting in the clutch is like a basketball player shooting the three pointer,” Morris said. “Once you get it rolling and once you get the confidence you deliver. That’s the way Ryan is for us.”
Braun is excelling on the diamond and not letting it affect his schoolwork. A business major, Braun made the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll in the first semester, an impressive feat for a freshman student-athlete.
“He is a very intelligent guy,” Morris said. “His decision of where to play collegiate baseball came down to us or Stanford.”
Braun’s success at UM comes as no surprise given his accomplishments in high school.
At Granada Hills High School, he broke the career record for home runs for 25. As a senior, he batted .451 with eight homeruns and 29 RBIs. He had on base percentages of .675 and .668 in his senior and junior years respectively. He played mostly shortstop or designated hitter in high school and was rated as the 6th best SS prospect in the nation by Team One Baseball.
Braun has been a coach’s dream because he is not only talented but works hard. He knows to never lose sight of the team goals.
“I just try to contribute and do whatever it takes to help the team win games,” Braun said.
Darren Grossman can be reached at DRG215@aol.com