Clay sophomore shortstop Ryan Fournier was a starter on the Eagles’ junior varsity team last season, but coach Garry Isbell moved him up to the varsity to serve as a pinch hitter and pinch runner in the postseason.
Fournier got his chance at the plate in the postseason, against Bowsher.
“I had one at-bat and ended up striking out swinging,” Fournier said. “We won, but it was like, I had that opportunity and I let it get away. It was a little disappointing, but I knew I would get more at-bats.”
Fournier isn’t disappointing anyone this year, particularly Isbell. Through 14 games Fournier is batting .400 with 11 runs, 11 RBI, five doubles and nine stolen bases. Clay is 7-7 and 3-1 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference.
|Clay sophomore Ryan Fournier faces
a St. John's Jesuit pitcher. (Press
photo by Jeff Smith/www.smith6312.
“I’m not surprised he’s having such a good season,” Isbell said. “I knew coming into this season that he was a solid baseball player and an exceptional athlete. Things have worked out for him so far this season, and most of that is due to his hard work ethic and putting himself in good situations and taking advantage of opportunities.”
The 5-foot-11 Fournier, 16, played second base as a freshman but was moved to shortstop this season. Last year’s JV shortstop, junior Kyle Row, is now Clay’s starting second baseman.
“I like shortstop,” Fournier said. “This year I went over to short and things just worked out. I feel more like a leader on the field, and I like that part of the field a little better.”
Fournier and Row have teamed up to turn “five or six” double plays this season, which Fournier said gives him a thrill.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It feels so good when you field that ball and get (Row) a good feed at second. I always can get better (defensively). I need to get better. I have five or six errors. I misread a ball a little bit and it crosses me up. In the St. John’s game (Tuesday), there was a ball to my right and I didn’t get to it quick enough. I crossed my feet up and it got by me.”
Isbell said he likes what he’s seen from Fournier so far.
“Ryan is an outstanding shortstop with great hands and a strong arm,” the coach said. “He has excellent range, outstanding speed on the base paths and he has a very strong bat capable of hitting to all fields.”
Offensively, Fournier has been a more than solid leadoff hitter. He has nine steals and has only been caught once.
“I guess I’m pretty quick,” he said. “I try to pick up on pitchers’ tendencies, how they look over and their twitches they have going home or throwing over. I’ve always loved hitting. That’s been my passion. I hit pretty well last year and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go this year. I’m taking one at-bat at a time and getting on base, then I let Bryce Castilleja and Lucas Robson hit me in.”
Fournier admitted the Eagles still have some work to do if they hope to clinch a TRAC title and reach their goal of returning to the regional tournament.
“We need to play a little better defense,” he said. “We have little mental mistakes, and mental mistakes on the base paths. We need to hit a little better with people on base. If we start doing that, get more runs around, we’ve been getting good pitching and defense. We just need to score more. I think we should win the TRAC. If we step up our game and play the game of baseball, we should be pretty good.”