by Steve Mims
Ryne Hays will arrive in Springfield on a hot streak.
The sophomore catcher is batting .286 while leading Yakima Valley College with five home runs and 33 RBIs this spring. He has nine doubles and 26 runs scored in 31 games while compiling a .343 on-base percentage.
“I think I have been consistently staying true to my game, trying not to do too much,” Hays said. “Last year, I was really trying to cement myself on the team. This year, I feel like I have a presence there so I am trying to do my thing and play the best I can. I have been swinging at better pitches, getting a lot more barrels.
Once his college season ends, Hays will join the Springfield Drifters during their inaugural season in the West Coast League. The Drifters open the season on May 31 before returning home to Hamlin Sports Complex on June 3 to face Cowlitz.
“I’m excited, that will be great,” Hays said. “I have been keeping up with the stadium and how it is looking. This will be a great opportunity and one that is rare. You don’t usually get to be part of an inaugural team in something. That is something I look forward to being a part of.”
Hays is from Bothell, Wash. and attended Seattle Prep. His college coach, Kyle Krustangel, is the coach of the Yakima Valley Pippins in the WCL.
“I’ve heard about how competitive the West Coast League is because my coach coaches the team here in Yakima, so I hear what a great league it is,” he said. “I know my parents will come to a few games. It is just a five-hour drive from my hometown. I have played with a ton of players in the league.”
Hays spent last summer with the Fremont Moo, a Nebraska club in the Expedition League.
“Last year, my parents weren’t able to make it to Nebraska so being in the Northwest makes it much easier,” he said. “That was definitely a shock for me, but it was a good opportunity and fun.”
Hays, who has not yet decided where he will play next season, plays catcher and first base for Yakima Valley, often splitting a doubleheader at each position. He is willing to do double duty for the Drifters as well.
“I don’t really prefer one position or the other,” Hays said. “I’ve always loved catcher, it is what i grew up doing, but I have no problem playing in the infield either.”