BY STEVE KRAH
Ryan Lynch has long enjoyed using his drive to succeed to his advantage.
Ask the senior left-handed pitcher/centerfielder from Penn High School in Mishawaka what has made him into the Gatorade Indiana 2019-20 Player of the Year for Baseball and he doesn’t hesitate.
“My athleticism and competitiveness,” says Lynch, who is bound for the University of Notre Dame as a two-way player. “(Hitting) mechanics are something I’ve been working on. Before that I didn’t get too much into that. I used (athleticism and competitiveness) in overcoming some of the flaws in my swing.
“Competitiveness carries over from the batter’s box to the pitching mound. Competitiveness and composure. With the bases loaded and less that two outs, I trust myself to get out of a jam.”
At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Lynch has grown about an inch and packed on 20 pounds of muscle since entering high school.
Lynch, 18, has also gained the wisdom of others along the way.
“A lot of my growth has come with the upper class, especially at Penn,” says Lynch. “Niko Kavadas was a senior when I was a freshman. “He’s given me a lot of great advice. He showed me what it takes to be a Division I college athlete.”
Kavadas, a Notre Dame third baseman, is a candidate for the 2020 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He aided Lynch with hitting drills and mechanics, weight lifting tips and talked to him about the mental part of the game.
As a Penn freshman in 2017, Lynch went 7-0 with a 2.86 earned run average and helped Penn to the IHSAA Class 4A state championship game. A righty swinger, he also hit .350 with 26 runs batted in.
In 2018, he was 8-2 with a 2.07 ERA on the mound and hit .456 with 44 RBIs.
As a junior in 2018, his pitching mark was 5-1 with 1.61 ERA. He also hit .330 with 20 RBIs.
The 2020 season was taken away by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For his three-year career, Lynch was 20-3 with a 2.18 ERA with 201 strikeouts and 79 walks. He also batted .378 and plated 90 runs.
Lynch thoroughly enjoyed his time in the Penn program headed by Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Greg Dikos.
“It was my first time being with a true team with bus rides together and seeing each other at school,” says Lynch. “It taught me some valuable lessons about being a better teammate and a leader as well, working with some of the young guys who needed.
“It’s not being selfish. We’re trying to work as a team and get to that state championship.”
Lynch considers himself as a versatile offensive player — something who can be a threat with his speed, but can also pop the ball into the gaps or over the fence.
“Having a training mindset, I want to get as strong as I can but be flexible,” says Lynch. “It’s not being too big and slow so you can’t stretch doubles and steal those bases.
“Some guys will train for one thing or another. If (the team wants) me to hit for power, I know what to do. If they want me to use speed, I know what to do.
“I’ve worked on my launch angle as I’ve worked on mechanics. Hopefully that will help me hit more home runs along with the doubles.”
On the mound, Lynch possesses a moving fastball clocked at 85 to 90 mph and is able to locate his curve ball and slider.
He describes the action of the breaking balls in terms of a clock face — 11-to-5 with the curve and 10-to-4 with a slider.
“I’ve been trying to get my curve ball more 12-to-6,” says Lynch. “It’s hard for hitters to pick up.
“I love throwing the slider to lefties. That’s probably where it’s most effective. You get them to open up their hips early and roll over on it.”
Lynch verbally committed early to Notre Dame and the new staff headed by Link Jarrett honored that offer.
“Growing up really close to Notre Dame, I loved everything about it — that campus, the traditions,” says Lynch. “Going to football games was really fun.
“The importance of Notre Dame and how valuable an education from that university would be. That really sets it apart.”
Lynch will graduate from Penn with the Latin Academic Honors distinction Cum Laude (4.25 grade-point average or higher on a scale of 4.0).
As a member of Penn’s Student-Athlete Leadership Council, Lynch has taken the lead in the school’s commitment to education-based athletics, creating and implementing lessons such as social media responsibility and how to take care of yourself and your teammates. He has helped organize events ranging from building community to freshmen student-athlete mentoring.
Another plus about playing at Notre Dame is the competition and exposure Lynch will get in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“Everyone says great things about Coach Jarrett and the staff,” says Lynch. “I’m real excited to get into that program.”
The third of Gregory and Diana Lynch’s three children (Kristina is now playing soccer at Florida State University and football player Brandon is finishing his eighth grade year at Discovery Middle School), Ryan played for the Granger (Ind.) Cubs travel team from 9-13. To face a higher level of competition, he split his 13U summer with the Cubs and Ohio Elite. That team made it deep into the USSSA 13U World Series at Disney World in Florida.
In high school, Lynch played for the Jay Hundley-coached Indiana Outlaws (which became the Evoshield Canes Midwest).
Lynch says last summer was going to be his last with the Canes. With the cancellation of the 2020 Indiana high school season, the team is considering having a short summer run.
“I still have to get word with Coach Jarrett and his opinion on it,” says Lynch. “He doesn’t want me to rush back into anything. It’s something I will consider for this summer.”
Kristina Lynch was selected as the 2017-18 Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year in Girls Soccer and now plays that sport at Florida State University. She helped the Seminoles win the 2018 National Championship.
“She’s made a big impact in my life,” says Ryan of Kristina. “She’s set a great example of what it takes to be successful in all aspects of life. It’s not just hard work on the field. She can manage playing sports and taking extremely hard classes and help out in the community.
“She’s able to reach out and expand as a person.”
Brandon Lynch, 15, was a quarterback and linebacker in middle school and now moves on to the storied Penn football program.
Ryan Lynch, a senior at Penn High School in Mishawaka, is the Gatorade Indiana 2019-20 Player of the Year for Baseball. He is on his way to the University of Notre Dame. (Penn High School Photo)
Ryan Lynch, a senior at Penn High School in Mishawaka, is the Gatorade Indiana 2019-20 Player of the Year for Baseball. In three season, the left-handed pitcher/center fielder won 20 games and hit .378 with 90 runs batted in during his prep career. He is bound for the University of Notre Dame. (Penn High School Photo)