Ryan McDonald powers Jackrabbit baseball

Karl’s TV & Appliance Athlete of the Week
Jackrabbit catcher having historic season
Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 11:40 PM CDT
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BROOKINGS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Seeing his dad wear a catcher’s mask in amateur ball inspired Ryan McDonald.

“He taught me how to do it. And I got pretty good at it so I kept it going!” McDonald says.

Wearing a hockey mask helped him learn how to manage more than one challenge.

“Oh I love it! It’s a grind and it’s fun. I mean I grew up playing hockey, tough sport, so (I know how to) work my butt off over the weekend and then I can recover on Monday when we get back.” Ryan says.

In 2019 the Prior Lake, Minnesota, native found his way to Brookings and began handling the South Dakota State pitching staff.

“Just helps being vocal, always being the biggest hype man for my pitching staff. I’m their biggest fan so I love seeing them work and I get a front row seat every day.” The senior catcher says.

His bat has done plenty of talking too.

Steadily improving over five years, Ryan is nearly a .300 career hitter, and in the last two seasons he’s become one of the top power hitters in the Summit League. McDonald’s 33 career homeruns are tied for fifth in SDSU history.

His 15 homeruns this season are just four off the SDSU single season record.

“It’s just a little bit more of knowing what my swing is good with and knowing what pitches I can handle and being a little bit more selective on what I’m swinging at.” Ryan says.

“He’ll give me his opinion if he feels like a guy is done or he’s got another hitter or two or what his stuff is like so I really trust him. He’s like a coach out there on the field and he’s just gotten better and better each year in every aspect.” SDSU Head Coach Rob Bishop says.

This year he’s added the role of leadoff hitter.

“I get on base a lot so I let the boys behind me just get me around the basepaths.” Ryan says.

“Over the course of the season that leadoff guy and the two guy are getting 30 or 40 more plate appearances. We think he’s our best guy and we want him up more than anyone else.” Bishop says.

Because there’s truly no masking how good he is.