PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Already one of the most decorated players in school history, junior shortstop Ryan Rua (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst) was named to the 2011 Daktronics, Inc. All-America Baseball Team as an honorable mention selection. Rua is the first Lake Erie College baseball player to earn All-American honors in the program's 10-year history.
"It's a tremendous honor to be named to the All-American team," Rua said. "And to be the first baseball player from Lake Erie College to do so is very special."
The team was selected by members of the NCAA Division II College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) and has been sponsored by scoring and timing display system manufacturer and supplier Daktronics, Inc. since 2007.
A total of 68 student-athletes were recognized nationally on the All-American team.
For Rua it is his fourth post-season all-star team selection. He was previously a first-team All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, American Baseball Coaches Association All-Midwest Region and Daktronics, Inc. All-Midwest Region selection as well as a second-team National College Baseball Writers Association All-Midwest Region pick.
"All three (conference, region and All-American) were personal goals of mine this season," said Rua, who was one of three Storm players picked for the All-Region team along with senior Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) and classmate Matt Toth (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King). "To have three players on the All-Region teams, and for me to make an All-American squad, really shows how much this program has grown in such little time and where it is headed."
"An accomplishment like being the first All-American in baseball school history certainly speaks for itself," said Storm head coach Brian McGee. "It's the highest individual honor a player can get. In order to reach that standing, you have to play consistent baseball both offensively and defensively throughout the course of an entire season, which can be quite grueling for a student-athlete. And Ryan has done that, not just this season, but throughout his entire career."
Ranked as the fourth-highest draftable prospect in Division II by Baseball America prior to the season, Rua had another stellar season at the plate. He batted an even .400 for the second straight season and set Lake Erie single-season records with 68 hits and 19 stolen bases. He also led the team with 44 RBI, 42 runs scored and 16 doubles while tying for the team lead with five home runs. Rua slugged a team-high .594 and had a Storm-best 1.031 OPS, starting all 47 games.
I think my play on the field has been directly affected, by the coaches that I have had throughout my 3 years. All coaches that have been here with me have always been willing to help out and workout whenever it was needed. Also,
"For a player to achieve an individual accomplishment of this magnitude, he obviously must perform on the field and put up strong individual numbers," McGee said. "But to do that, he needs teammates who are supportive and hard working and Ryan had that with Matt Toth getting on base in front of him and Brandon James protecting him in the lineup. Of course, you have to take advantage of those opportunities and Ryan did that often and came through with some big plays for us."
Rua agreed with his head coach. "I couldn't, or wouldn't, ask for any other teammates to play with," he said. "We have always been such a tight-knit bunch of guys, on and off the field, who like to joke around and have a good time with each other, and I think that makes it a lot easier on the field as well."
In addition to his performance at the plate, Rua also contributed on the mound, going 1-0 with two saves and a 3.18 ERA in six relief appearances.
For his career, Rua has a .374 average with 27 home runs and 131 RBI. He has banged out 276 hits and scored 117 runs while swiping 33 bases. He is the school's career leader in slugging, homers, RBI, total bases and stolen base percentage.
"Ryan has had three tremendous years for us now," McGee added. "Had we been in a conference before this year, he may have had a shot to be noticed more and be receiving multiple All-American honors, he's been that good and consistent a player for our program. He definitely is one of the best players in school history, along with guys like James, Toth and Ben Reed."
Rua added, "I think my play on the field has been directly affected by the coaches that I have had throughout my three years. All the coaches that have been here with me have always been willing to help out and work with me whenever it was needed. I could not have achieved the individual success without their help."
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Rua has been listed on several draft scouting services as one of the top 15 shortstops and top 30 middle infield prospects eligible for the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft which takes place June 6-8.