The Bobcats scored a measure of revenge by sweeping Waxahachie Life in the area round of the Class 4A playoffs, and junior RJ Ruais was a big reason why.
In Game 1, he went 3-of-4 from the plate with two RBIs and a double in an 8-3 win. He followed that up with a home run in Game 2 and a complete-game shutout performance on the mound in a 4-0 win.
Ruais allowed just two hits and struck out 14 batters to help send Celina to the regional quarterfinals.
Did you know?
SLM: What was the feeling like after that sweep and what did it mean to get past the second round after how things ended last season?
RR: It was a great feeling. The atmosphere on tbat bus ride home was great. We had high expectations last year but weren't able to deliver and I think we've all wanted to prove it to ourselves this year that we could do it. We pushed through it and were all very high-spirited.
SLM: How did the team grow from that experience last season?
RR: I think the biggest thing is we've changed our mentality a lot. Last year, one thing that beat us was the bunt and we've spent a lot of time on that and creating a mindset on handling those situations and just developing an overall mental toughness. Last year, after losing that first game, I think we got down on ourselves and that momentum carried through the rest of the series. I think staying mentally tough and staying with it the whole time have been big for us.
SLM: How have you seen yourself develop as a pitcher throughout your junior season?
RR: The biggest thing for me has been my mindset. I remember one start early in the year where I struggled. I lost my edge for a bit and they made me pay. It was a good experience to learn from those mistakes and see how much I needed to dial in and stay focused. I've tried to give everything I have into every appearance. In that Waxahachie Life game, I was in it for all seven innings and playing for my guys all seven innings.
I throw a fastball, change-up, curve ball and cutter. I didn't throw a ton of off-speed pitches during district but as we've gone deeper into the playoffs, I've started mixing in more curve balls and adjusted my cutter grip to get more late break on it and a little more velocity.
SLM: Who are some of the biggest influences on your growth as a baseball player?
RR: My biggest would be my dad. He's been there since day one and has pushed me. He's been my biggest supporter. Often, if I have a good or bad game, I'll talk over it with my dad and he's helped me grow not only as a baseball player but in life and relating it through baseball. I can't thank him enough for all the effort he has put into helping me grow. Another person who has helped me through some tough times and has helped me develop my body to get to the next level is Dusty Anderson, a partial owner of Aviator Sports Performance and Rehabilitation. He used to play and has helped from an insider point of view by putting himself in my shoes.
SLM: What kind of hobbies do you have away from the baseball field?
RR: When I'm not in season, me and my buddies like to have some fun golfing and fishing, and sometimes in the fall, I'll do some hunting with my family. Other than that, I put a lot of time and effort into my studies. I've been working on some college classes and getting that stuff out of the way, and I do take pride in my studies.
Check out the stories below to see recent winners of the Star Local Media Athlete of the Week:
Prosper Rock Hill sophomore Emma Klaire Hill was perfect at the plate during the Lady Blue H…