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Happy close to home

Ryan Kent enjoys competing in Midwest Collegiate League

LISLE – Looking to play summer baseball close to home after his first year of college, Ryan Kent found a spot in the Midwest Collegiate League with the help of his assistant coach at Morehead State University.

Now the Wheaton North graduate is enjoying his time as a member of the Joliet Admirals, who took on the DuPage Hounds at Benedictine University on Friday.

Leading off for the Admirals, Kent went 1-for-4 in the game.

"Overall, I'm happy," Kent said. "I'm getting my at-bats and I'm out there playing. It's good competition and there is a lot of good pitching. Plus it's nice to be close to home."

The league employs wood bats as opposed to the aluminum ones used during the college season, but that wasn't a big change for Kent, who is used to switching sticks in the summer.

"I've used wood bats every single summer since 16U," the outfielder said, "so it's not that big of an adjustment. And it definitely helps hitting with metal bats after you hit with a wood bat."

Kent is coming off a fine freshman campaign at Morehead State where he started 45 of the 50 games he appeared in for the Eagles. He batted .255 and added seven doubles, one triple, 18 RBIs and 32 runs scored.

"I didn't start right away but I earned my spot," Kent said. "It was a lot of fun. College baseball definitely is a lot faster pace but I had a blast playing against some big-time teams."

Some of the elite teams the Eagles played included Mississippi State, Kentucky and Louisville.

Kent went on to say that there was a bit of an adjustment period when he first started playing regularly.

"In high school ball, you don't have to make as many adjustments and you can get away with some stuff," Kent said. "In college, you can't get away with a lot of that same stuff mechanics-wise."

After going 16-40 in 2013, the Eagles posted a record of 29-28 in the spring, and notched victories over the likes of Kentucky and Indiana.

"They brought in like 20 new players," Kent said. "We turned things around and made the conference tournament. It was a great season for how big of a turnaround it was.

"We beat Kentucky when they were ranked No. 12 in the country, we beat Indiana once and we also played Louisville (which advanced to the College World Series) Next year, we expect to do ever better things."

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