- September 18, 2014
Rylan Thomas came to Windermere Prep to play baseball.
He introduced himself to the Lakers community, though, on the gridiron.
Thomas, a junior who transferred from West Orange after his sophomore year, bruised and bullied his way up and down the field this fall, running for nearly 200 yards and four touchdowns for Windermere Prep’s championship football team as a fullback.
Now, the UCF baseball commit and starting third baseman for the Lakers (8-4) is hitting the ball well as the team looks to come together in time for districts.
“Playing football, it helped in the meshing process with the teams and all the coaches and fans,” Thomas said. “These guys around here have made it really easy to mesh in with the team — it’s felt like home.”
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Thomas has come in and, despite being new to the program and the school, already asserted himself — along with fellow West Orange transfer Austin Bergner — as a leader in the clubhouse.
“He’s very fiery,” second-year head coach Scott Horvath said of Thomas. “He’s a loose guy, but he’s very competitive.”
Thomas is hitting .286 so far this season with a pair of home runs for the Lakers. After going through a bit of a slump, Thomas, who hits third in the lineup, swung the bat well against Colonial on March 19, going 3-for-4 and scoring three runs to help Windermere Prep beat the Grenadiers, 6-1.
“I was swinging it well the first couple games, and I just started to get a little bottom in my swing,” Thomas said afterward. “I just flattened it back out; I had some nice line drives today.”
The Lakers have played a tough schedule with the postseason in mind. As the team continues to gel, Horvath said the addition of Thomas has been a big plus for his ball-club as it gears up for what’s ahead.
“He challenges our players to get better every day,” Horvath said. “He brings a lot of energy, and that’s what we need — especially for a district run and, hopefully, to state.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].