Cumberland Times-News

Mike Mathews - Sports

October 23, 2008

Former local hurler named pitching coach at Purdue

After managing summer team to title, Ryan Sawyers turns attention to Boilermakers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Ryan Sawyers can’t wait to get up in the morning.

He’s always loved baseball, and he’s always lived it, too. Now, he’s loving it and living it at Purdue University as the pitching coach of the Boilermakers, runners-up in the Big 10 regular season and tournament a year ago.

“I couldn’t be more happy. Everyday I wake up I can’t wait to get to work,” he said. “I’m a full-time baseball coach. That’s what I’ve always wanted to be.”

Sawyers, a 1996 graduate of Fort Hill, has already left his mark on a number of programs as a player, coach and manager.

Over the summer he managed the Springfield (Ill.) Sliders, a first-year team in the Central Illinois Collegiate League, to the league championship. The Sliders, who won the first-half regular-season with a 20-4 record, beat Danville in a best-of-three championship series.

“Not a whole lot was expected,’’ Sawyers said of the Sliders. “No one was really sure. On the field we raised expectations by winning the first half, and we averaged 1,200 to 1,300 fans per game.”

Sawyers said the players he was able to acquire, many through networking with other coaches, came to Springfield on a mission.

“I don’t think you travel to Springfield to not win,’’ said Sawyers, who knew the team owners and got the shot when the original manager had resigned in March. “We had one set of uniforms, and other teams had three or four. For many, it was an unknown stadium, crowd and town. The goal was to play hard and have fun. If you do those two things you’re going to win and succeed.

“Did I think we’d play .800 baseball the first half? No. But we played extremely hard and, I think, harder than any other team.”

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Mike Mathews - Sports
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