Thursday, April 25, 2013

Baseball: VanRanst named MIAC Athlete of Excellence

By Katie Krull
Cardinal Staff
Teddy VanRanst, a returning senior pitcher for the Saint Mary’s Cardinals, is being recognized as one of the best pitchers in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Like many collegiate players, VanRanst has been playing baseball since he was about five years old and is currently using his aim and precision skillsets to lead the Cardinals into yet another successful season. Although this climb to success was not an easy one, VanRanst and his teammates have proven themselves to be the team to beat this season. 

VanRanst grew up playing baseball in West Saint Paul, Minn., and attended Highland High School. Upon graduation, VanRanst considered playing for a number of other colleges, but none of them made the same connection that Saint Mary’s University made. VanRanst was familiar with Head Coach Nick Winecke through family ties and was confident that he could do some damage on the mound for the Cardinals.

VanRanst’s first two seasons were rough years for the Cardinals, ending both at the bottom of the MIAC. He started nine games as a freshman, but was moved down in the ranking his sophomore year. After two consecutive seasons at the bottom of the pack and an unimproved record, VanRanst, along with many other players, dedicated himself to building a more successful future for SMU baseball. 

“I was sick of losing, and so were a lot of the guys,” said VanRanst. “So we made a conscious decision to change it.” 

Building off of that drive and motivation, the team was able to turn their losing record of 3-17 into a 10-10, 0.500 conference season.

“I was still hard-headed pitching in the Saint Paul State Conference, where I could blow it by people,” VanRanst said. “But at the college level, no matter if you are division I, II or III, without overpowering speed you can’t do that.” 

Now, as an experienced collegiate pitcher, VanRanst has found that power is not always the solution and models his game after Barry Zito, a finesse pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. VanRanst is no longer known for his overpowering speed, but for consistently hitting his spots and working hitters out of their comfort zones. His most consistent pitch is his fastball, which sets up the count for him to throw other pitches. His favorite pitch is a knuckle ball because not many pitchers still use them. 

Outside of baseball, VanRanst will graduate with a degree in sports management and plans to manage his own team. Over the past years, he has worked summers at baseball fields in Saint Paul and has been offered an internship by one of the coaches, where he will gain the experience needed to achieve his goal. This coming summer, VanRanst along with former Cardinal baseball player Ryan Tester and current Cardinal baseball senior Matt Tessmer, will coach a U18 baseball team in Saint Paul. 

VanRanst has been a key player in revolutionizing the Cardinal baseball team’s losing record into that of a winning one. He, along with many other players, has left his legacy of pitching at SMU and has helped set the Cardinals up for a bright future with only continued improvement to come.

“You’re only as good as the work you put in,” said VanRanst. “And if you trust yourself, you’re going to get a lot out of it.”

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