Sometimes the recruiting process can be hectic for high school athletes as they try to make sense of all the literature college coaches send them, or the phone calls from coaches encouraging them to choose a particular school. Often, student-athletes find the decision to be very difficult to make.
Well, Glasgow High School senior Ryan Hinkley took all of that pressure off himself Thursday afternoon when he signed a national letter of intent to play baseball next year at Olney Central College in Olney, Ill.
“I am excited, but I am also relieved to get this past me,” Hinkley said. “Coach (Dennis) Conley gave us an open timeline to make our decision. He called me every week to see where I was in making my decision, so I felt that he actually cared and wanted me to be there. And it was important to me that they stayed with me from the beginning of the recruiting process.
“As a kid, I have always been a football fanatic, but in getting into high school and looking at my body type and my style, I felt I was more fit to be a college baseball player instead of a college football player.”
Hinkley, who started as quarterback for the Scotties the past two years, made his college decision final during a ceremony in the high school cafeteria.
“Ryan is a very hard-working, dedicated athlete. He’s had a desire, a dream to play on the next level for some time now and he went out and got himself showcased and got himself some opportunities,” said Glasgow baseball coach Sam Royse. “I feel like he will make the most out of it.
“The junior college route, particularly in baseball, is a route a lot of kids take. I think Ryan made a really wise choice because he will go in and be competing on his own team for playing time and position time, and he will be competing with kids who are freshmen right out of high school and sophomores. The playing field is level.”
There is little wonder why Hinkley drew the attention of college coaches during the past few years. He joined the Scotties his freshman campaign and promptly hit .348 with a .958 on base and slugging percentage. As a sophomore, Hinkley earned a starting role at third base and hit .317 with 33 runs batted in, good enough for second on the team. Last year, Hinkley hit .381 on the season and actually batted .481 with runners in scoring position. He had 26 runs batted in and 21 stolen bases. With Hinkley on the roster, the Scotties have gone 67-35 during the last three years.
Hinkley is looking forward to closing out his high school career on a high note and he prepares to begin his senior baseball season with the Scotties next month. At the same time, he must also start preparing his game for the next level.
“I know the speed of the game will be so much quicker. Guys will be a lot faster, balls will be hit harder,” Hinkley explained. “I think I will need to improve my overall foot speed and agility. I also need to work on my hands-on defense.”
Hinkley’s versatility makes him a good option for the Olney Central Blue Knights. Conley knows Hinkley can play several different positions.
“He (Conley) told me he wanted me as an athlete. At a showcase I went to, he said he liked the way I swung the bat,” Hinkley said. “Defensively, I can play the outfield, I can play second base or I can play third. I want to play wherever the team needs me to play.”
Hinkley, the son of Beth and Jeff Hinkley, said he had a lot of people to thank for helping him reach the goal of playing college baseball. “I would like to thank my parents for spending a lot of weekends traveling to recruiting sites, colleges and helping me showcase my talents,” he said. “I would like to thank Coach (Sam) Royse and Coach (Jeff) Garmon for being so supportive of me. And I would really like to thank Dennis Conley, the coach at Olney, for giving me the opportunity to play at the next level.”
And as Hinkley prepares for this new part of his life, Royse is confident the transition from high school to college will be simple for Hinkley to handle.
“Now that Ryan is going to be able to devote his time to baseball, I believe he should spend a great deal of time developing his arm speed, developing his foot speed and developing his bat speed,” Royse said. “Then I hope he picks up on the change in competitiveness (at the college level). Ordinarily when we play in high school, the field is not always loaded with high-level talent. In college, you’re going to be getting good players around the horn. Hopefully, he adjusts to that. I believe Ryan has a good foundation from his high school days and I really believe he will make the transition to college baseball just fine.”