Usually freshmen take time to learn and grow, but freshman infielder Ryan Cleveland is a rare standout, replacing former Eagle T.D. Davis as the new starting first baseman for Georgia Southern University.
For Cleveland, baseball has always held a strong level of importance. However, growing up under the hard-nosed parental support of Derek and Andrea Cleveland, there is always much more to strive for other than excellence at baseball for Ryan.
“My dad has always pushed me to be my best no matter what,” Ryan said.
Needless to say, it seems apparent that Cleveland has followed his father’s advice, earning a starting spot on the GSU roster for 14 out of the 15 games played at this point in the season. With a batting average of .327 and a fielding percentage of .986, Cleveland has stepped up to play at an early stage in his career, achieving a reputation as a consistent fielder and batter for the team.
Cleveland said that the success as a freshman has been a blessing, furthering his lifelong goal from childhood to play baseball at the professional level. More importantly, the taste of recent success has not caused Cleveland to forget his core values of hard work and humility.
Despite the level of effort and talent Cleveland has achieved, he maintains that God and his father are the ones responsible for his success for providing the opportunities and circumstances that have made him the person he is.
With a current record of 14-2, Cleveland can celebrate his accomplishments as an individual as well as the winning tradition of the baseball team. Currently with only two losses, GSU boasts the title of leading baseball team in the state, with victories against both state rivals University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Cleveland maintains focus on education as well, realizing that if his goal as a professional baseball player is not achieved, he will be forced to pursue a career elsewhere. If his goal as a pro is not achieved, he needs a backup. Majoring in biology, Cleveland hopes to be a wildlife biologist in the event that his baseball career does not continue.
Eagle Nation can watch the young player for itself when the Eagles play at home next Tuesday at 6 p.m.