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Sports Person of the Week
Vallie Goes All-SCC in Sophomore Season
Sophomore shortstop Ryan Vallie posted a .370 batting average on his way to earning All-SCC Second Team honors on behalf of the East Haven baseball team this year. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Vallie)
After seeing his freshman season get canceled, Ryan Vallie had an opportunity to earn the starting shortstop job with the East Haven baseball team this spring. Ryan took his chance and ran with it by landing a starting role for a sophomore season that saw him hit .370 and collect All-SCC Second Team accolades.
Ryan got started with baseball in East Haven’s Little League at age four after receiving encouragement from his mother Lori and brother Sean. As soon as he hit the diamond, Ryan fell in love with the sport.
“My older brother played and my mom played softball when she was younger. It was great. I learned everything,” Ryan says. “I was always in the backyard or down by the fields with my mom. Fielding, hitting—we did everything. I loved it as soon as I started to play. I just wanted to do it all the time.”
Ryan started playing for the Foxon Bisons at age six and, three years later, he joined the CT Grind team for which he still competes to this day. While he couldn’t play for the Yellowjackets as a freshman, Ryan was able to play for the Grind last summer. That experience, coupled with the work that he put in on his own, had Ryan ready for the high school game.
Ryan also played football and basketball while growing up in East Haven, but decided to focus on baseball when he started high school. While he liked his other sports, there is no better feeling for Ryan then being on the baseball field.
“I just love baseball. There’s nothing else I would rather do,” says Ryan. “Basketball and football were fun, but nothing compares to baseball. I could play every day.”
Ryan played his first season with the Easties this spring and was their starting varsity shortstop as a sophomore. Head Coach Butch Johnson wasn’t expecting Ryan to be the starter heading into the season, but says that Ryan earned that spot due to his effort and dedication.
Ryan has been a middle infielder since the outset of his career and embraces the responsibilities that come with playing shortstop.
“I’ve always played middle infield. Those are my favorite. It’s really fun. You have to be involved in every play,” Ryan says. “You have to know what you’re going to do. I love the mental part of the game. The ball can be hit anywhere.”
Ryan needed to adjust to the speed of the game when he reached the varsity level. Ryan says that the athletes in this year’s senior class accepted him as a part of the team and helped make his transition go smoother.
Ryan started the year batting either sixth or seventh in East Haven’s lineup, but finished the season hitting out of the No. 2 hole. By virtue of his performance in the field and at the plate, Ryan was named to the All-SCC Second Team alongside senior captain Nick Furino.
“I’m honored to be selected to the All-SCC Second Team,” Ryan says. “The SCC is a really competitive conference. I’m just honored to be selected.”
Coach Johnson was impressed with how Ryan handled himself as the Yellowjackets’ shortstop. While Ryan was only a sophomore, Johnson felt that became a budding leader for the Easties.
“Ryan has brought quiet leadership. He leads by example, and his calm demeanor keeps him focused at all times,” says Johnson. “Ryan wasn’t scheduled to start this year, but turned out to be a pleasant surprise as he improved each game. He became our most consistent hitter, as well as a solid shortstop.”
Ryan put in as much work as possible in order to make All-SCC and lead East Haven in batting average. Ryan was grateful that Coach Johnson gave him an opportunity to start and knew that he needed to work hard in order to maintain that role. As continues through his high school career, Ryan wants to make the All-SCC First Team and help the Yellowjackets have some winning seasons.
From the second he stepped on the baseball field, Ryan never wanted to leave. Ryan says that baseball has made him into the person and the athlete that he is today.
“It means everything to me. It’s a big part of my life,” says Ryan. “I don’t know what I would do without it.”