Gridley grabs his opportunity

Mississippi State's Ryan Gridley earned Freshman All-SEC honors this past spring. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Mississippi State’s Ryan Gridley earned Freshman All-SEC honors this past spring. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Ryan Gridley wasn’t sure what his role would be when he arrived at Mississippi State.

Gridley began his true freshman season as a back-up second baseman but would end it as the Bulldogs everyday starter at shortstop.

He cracked the starting lineup due to an injury to Wes Rea on opening weekend and made the most of his chance. The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder finished the spring having started 47 of the 49 games in which he played.

Obviously being a freshman coming in, I didn’t know how much playing time I would get at the beginning of the season,” Gridley said. “I didn’t know what to expect but I played well when I got my opportunity in the beginning by grinding out at bats and playing good defense. That’s what kept me on the field.”

He debuted on Valentine’s Day against Miami (Ohio) after being inserted in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement and it didn’t take long for the ball to find him.

You can prepare yourself all you want but nothing is the same as an actual game,” Gridley said. “I was put in my first game at second base and the first guy up hit me a ground ball. Luckily it was just a ball I had to underhand to Trent Waddell at first base so it was a pretty easy play.”

Gridley went on to start the second game of the doubleheader that day and earned SEC Freshman of the Week the following weekend.

Gridley finished the year hitting .243 with nine doubles, one home run, 21 runs batted in and four stolen bases. He started 26 times at shortstop, 14 at second base and seven at third base and was named to the Freshman All-SEC team.

As easily as Gridley made the transition look at times this year, the former Perfect Game All-American from Milton, Ga., admits that the move to college was a challenge.

The speed of the game is much faster than high school,” Gridley said. “Every runner is way faster than in high school and the power guys are more powerful. The pitchers here either have ridiculous spin or really fast arms. Every single thing here is progressed to another level.”

Gridley batted .450 with 55 hits in 37 games as a high school senior while also adding 17 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. He earned scholarship offers from the likes of Clemson, Georgia Tech and Georgia but liked the vibe he got at MSU.

I really felt at home here,” Gridley said. “I liked this place a lot more than the other ones. The coaching staff seemed to fit my game style and I think it was the right decision for myself.”

Gridley is currently spending his summer playing for the Waynesboro Generals in the Valley Baseball League where he is hitting .368 with two doubles, eight RBIs and four stolen bases.

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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