Catching Up With Sean Ryan (Wheaton College Baseball)
By Matt Noonan
This summer, the rising senior has recorded 52 hits, 22 RBIs, 21 runs, 16 stolen bases and 10 doubles. He’s also registered four triples, the most in the league thus far, and ranks second in batting average, too.
Yet, as much as Ryan would like to attribute his success on the field to practices and workouts, he insisted that a majority of his growth is owed to Wheaton’s head coach Eric Podbelski.
“I think Podbelski is really focused on the mental part of the game because you can’t allow yourself to get out, get upset and then bring that to your next at bat because then you’re most likely going to get out again, and get more upset,” said Ryan. “He’s really helped me with the mental game by staying calm, staying focused, and just focusing on the game and not statistics.”
This past season with the Lyons, Ryan led the unit with 86 hits and 30 stolen bases. He also tallied 49 runs, 37 RBIs and three home runs in a span of 52 games.
Wheaton managed to secure a spot in their second Div. III College Baseball World Series title match this past May, but once again fell short to Marietta College for the second time in six seasons.
Noontime Sports recently caught up with the Lyons slugger to discuss his success at Wheaton, along with his outlook on his upcoming senior year.
Growing up in Norton, did you ever consider playing baseball at Wheaton?
“When I was growing up, I honestly didn’t realize that Wheaton [was in my hometown]. I drove by it every day, and it didn’t even notice it. As I [learned] more about the program going into my senior year [at Norton High School] I realized that’s where I wanted to be.”
What was your first impression of Wheaton College?
“My first impression was Coach Podbelski, and how professional he was about everything. Every practice was just scheduled out [to perfection], there wasn’t any kind of confusion or anything, and everything was just a job. It was so organized.”
I know it’s been a few months since the World Series, but have you officially digested the defeat?
“It stings, it’s always going to sting. I have a feeling that we have a good chance to make it back to [the World Series next year] and that’s what we have to push for [next season].”
Prior to the first game against Marietta, did Coach Podbelski or any senior provide some words of wisdom about the series?
“As a team, our main idea is to treat every game like it’s a game. We can’t build up any game, [especially the World Series] because that’s when you start to make mistakes. And when it comes down to it, it’s the same game, still three outs, nothing changes.”
What do you think the postseason run will do for the program going forward?
“It’s good to put our program on the map. You get more recruits, you get even better, and Podbelski is the best coach, best recruiter that I’ve ever seen, so I feel like he’s going to make us better and better each year.”
In your honest opinion, what made Wheaton so successful this past year?
“We were a strong unit. We were all pushing for one goal, and when you get 30 guys pushing for one goal it makes it easier then when you have 10 guys pushing for one goal. Also, we [experienced] so much [this past] season, and we even had a point where we were losing close games and things weren’t going right, and as a team when that happens and then you’re able to pick yourself up after as a team, it’s really a maturing process. I felt when we entered the College Baseball World Series, we were a mature team and we were focused and ready.”
What are your overall thoughts on NEWMAC baseball?
“All the teams are well coached, and I feel like any [team] can win every year. My junior year, [this past spring], MIT came out of nowhere and they were a solid team, so I feel like every team is [constantly] getting better and better.”
Finally, do you think you’ll be able to cap off your senior season with a NCAA championship?
“First, you’ve got to win the NEWMAC, you’ve got to win that first, got to get there.”