By: Eric Leary
For today’s episode of “Under The Gun” we sat down with North Moore High School Head Baseball Coach Hunter Ridge. Coach Ridge has also been coaching with the Dirtbag organization since 2015.
As a coach with the Dirtbags, we know you played college baseball at UNC-Wilmington. Take us through the process how you got the opportunity to play there.
My sophomore year I picked UNCW over UNC, NC State, HPU, TCU and Coastal. After going on my visits, I felt like it was home away from home and the coaches saw me as someone who could come in and compete for a starting job. Coach Howell (Current Georgia Tech Pitching Coach) and Coach Hood (Current UNC-Wilmington Associate Head Coach) stayed on me 24/7 and also I had three guys from my legion team go there a year before me so that made it easier as well. Also, it’s hard not to want to play at the beach with the great weather.
When thinking back on your days of being a Seahawk Baseball player, what do you miss the most about that experience?
Being apart of a brotherhood/family of winners. As a unit we would do whatever it took to win.
What’s one area of the game you feel you were able to grow the most in your transition from high school to college?
My approach in the box. I was able to learn on how to study a pitcher in college. In high school it was either here comes a fastball or a walk. In college I had to learn what pitch or location the pitch would go too.
What was your mindset, or approach, as a hitter when you got in the box?
My approach was to do whatever I could to have a quality at bat and hit it hard to ALL fields. Stay short and drive the ball backside.
What is the best drill you would urge young hitters to do in order to improve their skills?
Tee work. I loved doing tee work because it was all about getting your swing back to normal when struggling and you can easily slow your swing down with this drill. You can also set the tee up for the pitch to be anywhere around the plate. High tee to get on top of the ball or Low tee to elevate.
Help us understand the commitment required for a college student-athlete. Can you describe the work and time it takes at that level to be a successful player?
You are committing four years of your life to a college for baseball. But, you are a student-athlete (student first). Classes, weights, practice and then study hall. It’s a job that you technically don’t get paid for until you get your degree.
Now that you have transitioned from playing to coaching, as a high school coach and with the Dirtbags, what do you try to instill in the hitters you coach?
Make loud outs. Hit the ball where it’s pitched and do not try to do too much.
Thanks so much for sharing with us & we look forward to seeing your coaching career take the same rise as your playing career did.