ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: UW-Stout Outfielder Ryan Freitag

MENOMONIE, Wis. -- The UW-Stout baseball team is off to their best season in recent history, and Osseo native Ryan Freitag is a big reason for the Blue Devils success. As Chance Dickman reports in this week's Gordy's Athlete Of The Week, Freitag is grateful to play the game he loves, so close to home.

It's almost like he was born to play the game. Ever since he was young boy, UW-Stout Junior, Ryan Freitag has been on the diamond playing the sport that he loves, baseball. Freitag says, "Baseball has always been a big part of my life. Obviously, my dad is a big baseball guy. He played pro ball in the Expos system, and from there ever since I was a little kid, he taught me everything about baseball."

His dad's major league influence has also had an big impact on the way Ryan conducts himself on a personal level. Ryan explains, "Keep my head on straight, keep hustling, that's what he tells me. Don't be the big guy, make sure you know how to play baseball and carry yourself on and off the field."

Stout's head coach, Toby Gardenhire, son of Twins Manager, Ron Gardenhire, has been a big help to Freitag as well. Gardenhire says, "The biggest thing is that me and Ryan just talk baseball a lot. Whether it's sitting on the bus talking about the game, or talking about things where I've been because being in the minor leagues, you see a lot of different stuff." Freitag adds, "Having a guy like Toby, with his stature, his name, he knows what he's talking about, and I appreciate it."

Chance Dickman,"Ryan has always shown hustle on the ball field, but the one thing that really sticks out about his game, is his presence at the plate," Says Gardenhire, "It helps to be really, really strong, but he's got a good eye at the plate. He's a consistant hitter, and I think that's what makes him as good as he is." Ryan says, "Patience. Getting your pitch and having the opportunity to have a lot of at bats, and I've done that for a long, long time."

Ryan leads the Blue Devils with 10 homeruns and 35 rbi's this season, but he humbly says that stuff doesn't matter as much as winning a WIAC Championship. Reporting in Menomonie, Chance Dickman, for SportScene13.

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