Junior Ryan Murphy rounding the bases. Murphy has hit three home runs during Rowan's first four games. - Photo / Nick Feldman via Rowan Athletics

After not playing baseball at the competitive level for a year and a half, junior Ryan Murphy made the decision to come to Rowan after previously playing at Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ). Despite the gap in his playing career, Murphy explained that the transition to the team could not have been smoother.

“Making the change and coming in here was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done, because the second I walked into practice, I was very welcomed by the team,” Murphy said. “Every single guy does their job and I pretty much love walking into that.”

Murphy posted a batting average of .287 and a slugging percentage of .451 in his last season at RCSJ and the improvement in his game this season has already spoken for itself. In the four games the team has played this year, Murphy has recorded a batting average of .538 and has been very effective at getting on base. One reason for such large improvement, Murphy explained, is his newfound focus on the mental aspect of the game.

“It was more focusing on the mental side more than the physical side. The mental side of baseball is one of the hardest things to grasp, to me at least,” Murphy said. “When I was at Gloucester, I was a sophomore and when I hit .287 I thought…that had to do more and I didn’t really have to do more. I had to do less and just kind of do my job. And so that’s why I feel like coming into here, I’ve just been seeing the ball well out of pitchers hands so far and really just focusing on driving the ball.”

One area where Murphy has had an instant impact on the team is his ability to hit for extra bases and home runs. He has already hit three home runs in just four games this season, but Murphy says that swinging for the fences is not something he prioritizes when standing at the plate.

“When we take [batting practice] before games, I like to go line drives and ground balls, because pitchers like to throw me low because of my height. So, I’ll go and work on those low balls and driving them right up the middle,” Murphy said. “I like to go ground balls and line drives because those will translate to home runs in the games.”

One thing that coach Mike Dickson and the rest of the staff have also emphasized this season is making Murphy a versatile player. The most prominent example of this was seeing Murphy put on the mound in the ninth inning in a save situation against Penn State Abington. And while Murphy recorded a loss and was not able to get the save, Dickson sees potential for Murphy as a two-way player and noted that Murphy will certainly see the mound again this season.

“He’s a big, hard throwing, right hander. In college, obviously, it’s difficult to be a two-way player just because there’s so much information being thrown at you both as a hitter and as a pitcher. We wanted to get him a situation to see how he would perform,” Dickson said.

It was the first time in Murphy’s collegiate career that he took the mound and Murphy said he trusts any decision his coaches make and is ready for whenever his number is called.

“When they say, ‘Murph, be ready,’ I am 110% ready as well as everyone else on the team,” he said.

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