Former DHS standout Nichols making strides at USA

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 15, 2005

MOBILE – It looks as though Ryan Nichols might be making a name for himself at the University of South Alabama.

On Tuesday night, Nichols was the center of attention, slamming home his fourth homerun of the season and plating four RBI.

“We’re doing pretty good,” Nichols said.

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“We are in the prime of our season and we play Mississippi State in the middle of the week next week.

These next two weeks will determine if we get a regional or at-large bid.

It’s the key part of the season for us.”

The USA Jaguars are currently sitting at 22-14 and Nichols has high goals for the 2005 season.

“I want our team to go to a regional for a shot to go to Omaha,” Nichols said.

“Once you get to that point of the season, it’s just a matter of who’s hot and who’s not.

If we get hot with our pitching, we can make a run to Omaha.”

USA head baseball coach Steve Kittrell believes Nichols is a great team player with a lot of talent.

“Nichols just keeps performing when he is called upon and is the ultimate team player,” Kittrell said.

And on Tuesday night, Nichols was the key offensive threat, going 2-for-4 including a homerun and four RBI.

“Defensively, Nichols is our number two catcher,” Kittrell said.

“Offensively, we couldn’t ask any more of Ryan and to be honest, he’s very good defensively as well.

But his bat is what has really set him apart this year as he’s been clutch in crucial situations.

A lot of his homeruns have come on two strikes and he’s such a tremendous both on and off the field.”

As Nichols and his USA teammates make a run for the postseason, coach Kittrell couldn’t be happier with having Ryan coming off their bench.

“It’s tough to say what’s going to happen towards the end of this year because Ryan is a senior,” Kittrell said.

“But there is a chance he could be used as a DH and could also catch some games.

His bat is just so crucial for us.

And it takes a special player to come off the bench like he does.”

While a student at DHS, Nichols has many fond memories of growing up in Demopolis.

“Looking back – the comrodory of the guys you plays with – playing with guys you grow up with your whole life and playing against the competition, was just great,” Nichols said.

“It’s such a small town that you know everyone.”

As far as future goals, Nichols has hopes of becoming a baseball coach.

“I really want to to coach baseball somehwere in junior college or college,” Nichols said.

“I want to be a part of the game as long as I can.

I’ve learned a lot about the game from coach Moody and I learned a lot on the bench last year.

And I think all of that will play a vital role as I aim to become a coach.”

Coach Kittrell agrees, and he believes Nichols would make a great future baseball coach.

“I think he would be a tremendous baseball coach because he knows the game and he calls a good game from behind the plate,” Kittrell said.

“He will also be a great influence on young people and a good solid role model for them.

And he would also be great at teaching them to play the game.”