PARK TWP. – Going into the final two weeks of the regular season, West Ottawa baseball finds itself in a familiar position – feeling overlooked.
Despite this, senior Brody Ruby and the rest of the Panther baseball team is embracing the adversity. Ruby, a leader for the team, is more than equipped to lead his teammates through the end of the season.
Since beginning his time with the varsity team, Ruby has been the everyday second baseman, along with hitting leadoff for the Panthers. This season, he added pitching to his arsenal.
“(Brody’s) a really versatile player, he’s been our second baseman for the last two years, has had an increased role on our pitching staff this year and had some really good outings on the mound,” West Ottawa coach Matt Naber said. “He has a really good on-base percentage and normally sees lots of pitches, he works counts, can hit the ball to all fields, and has a little bit of power. He always sets us up in good positions both offensively and defensively.”
Ruby has been surrounded by baseball since he could pick up a bat, as his father, Chad Ruby, has been on the Hope College baseball coaching staff for the entirety of his life. Brody’s skills and baseball IQ developed at an early age.
“I’ve seen my fair share of ejections, altercations with umpires and situations where coaches or players make plays,” Ruby said. “Looking at how they handle situations that don’t go their way, just seeing all the emotions, especially at that level, I learned a lot being around those players.”
Subscribe: Get complete local sports coverage with this special offer
Being in the dugout with his father and the college athletes shaped him into the player he is today.
“Having those experiences and knowledge in the back of my brain has given me a higher baseball IQ,” Ruby said. “Experiencing those situations and having them happen out on the field and knowing what to do, has allowed me to make smarter plays than other players.”
Aside from baseball skills, his time in the Hope College dugout taught him valuable life lessons.
“Growing up being in the dugout with a bunch of college guys when I was younger was some of the most fun I’ve ever had,” Ruby said. “They treated me so well. Being around them and seeing baseball at an early age, at a high level, was a one-of-a-kind experience. I was one of the guys on the team. I learned a bunch of life lessons just being in the dugout.”
The relationships he’s fostered at every level he’s played are ones he holds dear and are the most special in his life.
“The relationships I’ve built playing in travel ball, in little league, and now in high school, I’ll take those with me later into my life,” Ruby said. “You can’t get that anywhere else. You build a bond with those guys, go through so much with them, play so many games with them, you build a great relationship with so many different guys.”
Ruby says the team has a ‘chip on its shoulder.’
“Being West Ottawa, a lot of people just look down on us,” Ruby said. “We have a tough schedule coming up, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. We’re just going to play as hard as we can, play our baseball, and hopefully we’ll shock some people.”
This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Brody Ruby leads overlooked West Ottawa baseball into districts