CENTERBURG — At first sight, he looks like a regular 14-year-old.
One does a double take when they find out that Ross Ryan of Centerburg is only 11. At 5-feet-11, the first baseman and pitcher for the under-12 Columbus Sharks is getting to play against top-notch competition, making a name for himself and seeing plenty of new sights.
His latest trip took him and his team, the Columbus Sharks, to the Alabama Little League World Series to play some of the best teams in half a dozen states.
“It was fantastic,” said his stepfather, former Centerburg Trojans’ baseball and basketball standout Todd Sands. “Just from a standpoint of playing baseball, they played against kids from six different states. They got to see southern baseball, where they get to play year-round, so they are more polished. The consensus of the parents and the coaching staff was, ‘Let’s see how we do.’ They ended up doing very well. We just told him, ‘This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Go down and make the best of it. Enjoy it. You’re here and it’s baseball.”
The whole experience was a blast for Ryan, who was totally impressed with the facility in Alabama.
“There are 40 ball fields where we played in Alabama,” said the right-handed Ryan, who builds strength in his arms by lifting bags and helping out in his dad’s feed store. “They were all very, very nice (well manicured.) All of them are (natural) turf.”