By Kyle LoJacono
Wiregrass Ranch’s Ryan Kopenski wanted to be a pitcher from the first time he stepped on a baseball field.
Even in T-ball before he could pitch the lefty played the defensive position. Now the 6-foot-2, 155-pounder will get to toe the rubber with the Lancers of Lenoir Community College in North Carolina.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Kopenski said.
Kopenski, who signed May 11 and will study business, was the Bulls’ ace this season, posting an 8-3 record with two saves, a 1.58 ERA and 32 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .184 batting average in 57.2 innings. His work helped them go 19-7 and win consecutive Sunshine Athletic Conference championships.
The southpaw doesn’t have the most overpowering stuff, topping out in the low to mid 80s, but Wiregrass Ranch coach Jeff Swymer said he makes up for his shortcomings.
“He’s a guy who misses bats,” Swymer said. “He finds a way because of his work ethic. He’s never been the best player, and he never will be the best player. He compensates for that by being smarter than the other guys.”
Kopenski, who uses a fastball, curveball and changeup, ends his four-year high school career 14-6 with a 2.68 ERA and 76 Ks. He said everything changed for him when Swymer took over.
“When coach Swymer came in my sophomore year the program really started to get elite,” Kopenski said. “We’ve won a lot of games and we’ve all learned a lot about baseball. I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else.”
Kopenski is the second Bulls baseball player in as many years to sign with a school. Swymer said he thinks that’s a continuing trend.
“I think you’ll see the tide start turning and all of a sudden scouts are asking who is this Wiregrass Ranch; let’s go see them play,” Swymer said. “They can’t be just a fluke to be winning 18 or 19 games each season.”
–Stats as recorded to Maxpreps.com by coaches