Lit­tle League World Se­ries whet Rav­naas’ ap­petite for the game

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports - BY OLIVIA PHELPS

It started with a trip to Wil­liamsport, Pa., in 2002 when a team from Fort Worth, Texas, ad­vanced to the Lit­tle League World Se­ries.

At 12 years old, the 5-foot-4, 107pound Rand Rav­naas played in the out­field on one of base­ball’s most cel­e­brated stages.

“While we were there, be­ing 12, we didn’t re­ally re­al­ize how big it was,” Rav­naas said. “When we got home, we saw how many fans we had and how many peo­ple were ac­tu­ally fol­low­ing us.”

Now at 6-2 and 205 pounds, the Ge­orge­town se­nior re­flects on that sum­mer as a pin­na­cle mo­ment in his base­ball ca­reer.

“Af­ter that, I kind of re­al­ized that base­ball was what I wanted to do,” he said.

Since be­ing a part of that mem­o­rable squad, Rav­naas has played on teams with far qui­eter sea­sons. That has never dis­cour­aged him, though.

The Hoyas fin­ished just 5-21 in Big East play last sea­son (23-33 over­all). De­spite com­ing in at the bot­tom of the con­fer­ence, Rav­naas grabbed the at­ten­tion of ma­jor league scouts with a team-high .352 bat­ting av­er­age, which ranked sixth in the Big East. He also led Ge­orge­town in hits (75), dou­bles (18), slug­ging per­cent­age (.545), on-base per­cent­age (.399), and stolen bases (26). Rav­naas tied for the lead in triples (four) and home runs (five), and was sec­ond on the team with 37 RBI.

Those num­bers prompted the Pitts­burgh Pi­rates to se­lect him in the 13th round of the draft in June. Rav­naas had to de­cide whether to sign or re­turn to school for his final sea­son.

“[Be­ing drafted] has al­ways been a dream of mine and to see it ac­tu­ally hap­pen was re­ally cool,” he said.

Af­ter dis­cussing his fu­ture with fam­ily and coaches, Rav­naas de­cided to re­turn to Ge­orge­town

“The rea­son I came to Ge­orge­town was to get the ed­u­ca­tion and to get the de­gree,” he said. “So once I thought about all of the pros and cons, it kind of made it eas­ier.”

The Hoyas were 8-2 en­ter­ing Mon­day’s game against Bowl­ing Green, and Rav­naas was hit­ting .472 with two home runs and 11 RBI.

“It’s baby steps this year with us,” the se­nior said. “Again, in our pre­sea­son polls we were pro­jected to fin­ish at the bot­tom, so we have to prove a point ev­ery week­end.

“Our whole at­ti­tude as a team has changed. I think us se­niors have ex­pe­ri­enced so much los­ing in the past three years that we’re just tired of it and tried a lot of dif­fer­ent things to bring our team to­gether to push us in the right di­rec­tion. . . . Peo­ple are buy­ing into the fact that we ac­tu­ally can win games, and are work­ing a whole lot harder.”

As some­one who leads by ex­am­ple, in just the third week of the sea­son Rav­naas al­ready has been rec­og­nized three times by the league. He was named to the pre­sea­son All-big East team and the Big East honor roll two weeks in a row.

While the con­fer­ence might over­look the Hoyas as se­ri­ous com­pe­ti­tion, Rav­naas is go­ing to take ad­van­tage of his squad be­ing the un­der­dog. He’s out prove just how threat­en­ing Ge­orge­town is.

“Peo­ple don’t re­ally ex­pect us to achieve or win a lot of games,” Rav­naas said. “And so, I think the fact that they don’t ex­pect that helps us a lot.”

Whether Rav­naas finds him­self fin­ish­ing at the bot­tom with a 5-21 Big East sea­son, or fin­ish­ing first this past sum­mer with the Newport Gulls in the New Eng­land Col­le­giate Base­ball League, two things are con­stant: his stead­fast at­ti­tude, and his ap­proach to the plate.

“When­ever I step into the box, I do the same rou­tine be­fore ev­ery sin­gle pitch,” he said. “Be­fore the pitcher even steps on the rub­ber, I will step into the box, say some­thing to my­self, and then step out of the box and get my signs from my coach. I al­ways step in with my left foot first. I look at a spe­cific part of my bat and then I’ll take a deep breath and try to calm my­self down, and fo­cus, and then I’ll start star­ing at the pitcher and try to block ev­ery­thing else out.”

What­ever the sit­u­a­tion, Rav­naas knows what it takes to come out on top. With a trip to the Lit­tle League World Se­ries as in­spi­ra­tion, the se­nior’s heart lies with the game.

GE­ORGE­TOWN ATH­LET­ICS

Rand Rav­naas is bat­ting .472 with two home runs and 11 RBI in help­ing Ge­orge­town get off to an 8-2 start. He re­turned to school for his se­nior sea­son af­ter be­ing drafted by Pitts­burgh in June.

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