Summers seeks glory in spring

SHEFFIELD – The snow is receding, the air is less nippy. Spring is descending upon Western Massachusetts.
And Ryan Summers is beyond excited.
One of the top prep baseball players in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Summers is beginning his second season at the Berkshire School. This year will serve as a post-graduate year for the catcher/outfielder, giving Summers one last year of prep school ball before heading to another Commonwealth, Kentucky, to take the field for the Cardinals of the University of Louisville.
The Westfield native’s excitement for the Bears’ upcoming campaign is plenty justified.
“We’re going to be pretty good,” Summers said in an exclusive interview with the Westfield News. “We have a deep pitching staff and we’re returning several starters.”
Another theme of the 2013 Berkshire varsity baseball season that Summers is most excited for, is redemption. A season that began with great promise for the Bears was harpooned by injuries, and Berkshire finished with an overall record of 11-7, and a league record of 7-6, including 4-4 in the Young Division and 3-2 in the Cleary Division of the Western New England Prep Baseball League.
Like any great competitor, Summers’ disappointment with the Bears’ 2012 season was mostly due to his own perceived shortcomings.
“I didn’t hit the ball as well as I wanted to,” Summers said, despite hitting .327 with a .500 on base percentage and being named all-league in the WNEPBL, “We played down to the competition at times (last season). We’re just looking to be more consistent this year.”
Summers says he will most likely hit third for the Bears this season for Coach Jason Gappa while maintaining his usual stout presence behind the plate as one of the best defensive catchers in the league.
He will also be riding a great wave of confidence from the past few months, as Summers played on the scout team for the Kansas City Royals in Jupiter, FL, and at the World Wood Bat Classic in Marietta, GA, where he hit .350 with two home runs.
Bears Head Coach Jason Gappa acknowledged captain Summers’ great summer in a recent interview following his team’s spring expedition to the Dominican Republic.
“He had an awesome summer,” Gappa said, “He had one of the highest slugging percentages in the tournament when he played for the Royals scout team, and he went about five or six for eight during his time there, as well.”
As for what will be required of his star, Gappa was succinct in surmising his expectations.
“We’re going to lean on him a lot this year for power this season and to also set a good example for our younger guys, both on the field and in the classroom,” said Gappa. “His work ethic is awesome, he’s a great player and a great kid. We’re excited to have him back.”
With all of the anticipation and steep expectations from outside observers this season, it would be understandable if Summers himself viewed this final season in Sheffield as an afterthought. After all, when another four years on scholarship at an NCAA power await you, one might lose sight of your current focus.
According to Gappa, however, that just simply is not the case.
“He’s looking forward to (Louisville). I mean, who wouldn’t be?”, Gappa asked, “but he’s such a level-headed kid, he’s knows he doesn’t have to prove anything to the rest of the league. He’s just going to play each game pitch by pitch and get better each day.”
While he is focused on the Bears this season, Summers is well aware that this spring will serve as his final tune-up before taking the field for Louisville in 2014, a program that has been a perennial power in the Big East and finished 25th in the country in Division I last season.
“I just want to contribute whatever they need,” Summers says of what his anticipated role will be for the Cardinals, “whatever gets me on the field, that’s what I’ll do.”
And it is that same attitude that will drive the Berkshire Bears and Ryan Summers to glory and place among New England’s prep elite this spring.

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