It matters little that Ryan Leach was pitching to Class C competition last spring at Hall-Dale High School and a year later is facing Division II hitters at Franklin Pierce University.

“We don’t put a lot of credence into the level of high school ball they play,” Franklin Pierce coach Jayson King said. “Overall, he’s a pretty good athlete.”

King saw Leach pitch in American Legion ball as well as during a tryout on campus in Rindge, N.H., and he liked what he saw. Leach, who is on partial scholarship, has started a game and relieved in four others. 

“I liked his delivery,” King said. “It’s a little different than typical right-handed pitchers, the arm slot is lower. He’s deceptive to right-handed hitters.”

Leach added some velocity to his fastball as a result of weight training in the fall and a slight change in his delivery.

“I’ve got a higher leg kick from the stretch,” Leach said. “It’s given me a faster fastball with a little more movement on it.”

Leach has also developed an effective slider and refined his changeup, both of which he uses for out-pitches. His slider is a sweeping breaker that he employs primarily against right-handed batters while he uses a circle change that breaks down and away against lefties.

That Leach is pitching at all for the Ravens is an accomplishment in itself. Franklin Pierce is among the top teams in Division II, last season going 43-17-1.

King has been named ABCA/Rawlings East Region Coach of the Year of the year five times, including last season and in 13 seasons has a record of 408-208-2. So far this season the Ravens are 27-6.

A half-dozen of their pitchers have hit 90 mph on the radar gun and two, Leach said, are consistently above 90. Leach said he hasn’t been gunned since last fall, but King said he throws in the upper 80s with good control. “For me, 88 is fine, because I have so much movement on my fastball,” Leach said.

In addition to refining his mechanics, Franklin Pierce coaches have been working on Leach with his mound presence.

“They always say they want me to have a bulldog attitude,” said Leach, who is naturally quiet.

Added King: “If there’s one thing he needs to work on it’s that. We want him to have the mentality he has to attack at all times.”

In addition to adjusting to collegiate hitters, Leach has also had to deal with a 48-game schedule.

“It’s a game every day or a practice,” he said. “It’s pretty exhausting. It takes its toll on the body, it really does. If you’re not lifting and eating right, it’s really hard.”

Leach will play for the Sanford Mainers of the New England Collegiate Baseball League this summer where he hopes to develop a cutter or sinker.

“I would say there’s a good chance he’ll be a starter for us,” King said. “Even if he isn’t, he’ll play a significant role.”

A top-notch basketball player at Hall-Dale as well as one of the top hitters in the Mountain Valley Conference, Leach will get to do neither at Franklin Pierce and that’s OK with him.

“I’m having a great time,” he said. “I love the guys, I love the program.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638
[email protected]