Bearcat pitcher and Colerain High School graduate Ryan Atkinson is a local through and through, which could be seen walking around the Richard E. Lindner Center wearing his Cincinnati Reds hat.
The News Record interviewed Atkinson, a fourth-year dieter, on Thursday as he was about to embark on the final leg of his pitching career for the University of Cincinnati.
“I thought it would be pretty great to play in my hometown and when my family and friends see me play,” said Atkinson.
Before making his career debut with the Bearcats, Atkinson attended Colerain High School in Cincinnati and played for their baseball team. He was also the player for the Cardinal’s soccer team in his senior year, according to gobearcats.com.
During his high school baseball career, Atkinson received the All-Ohio Honorable Mention, an award honoring the best high school baseball players in Ohio. He’s also posted a no-hitter as well as a one-hitter during his career at Colerain.
Atkinson’s baseball career began long before high school. He started playing at the age of 3 due to family encouragement.
As a native of Cincinnati, Atkinson knew UC was the university he should attend to pursue his baseball career. It was the right fit, Atkinson said.
When Atkinson took over the hill for the Bearcats, it was number 34; but the pitcher’s favorite number is 14. This is because his favorite player Pete Rose, also known as the “hit king”, wore this number during his career with the Cincinnati Reds.
Atkinson has played for the Bearcats longer than anyone on the team. He joined the team as a first grader, making him the only fourth grader to wear the UC red and black jersey this season.
Despite playing for the team since 2012, Atkinson’s favorite memory as a Bearcat dates back to his 2015 season, when the Bearcats angered the University of Central Florida Knights, who ranked sixth in the nation, by beating them twice in a three-game series.
“It was great for the team because it changed things and we had a lot of momentum,” said Atkinson.
Atkinson played an important role in giving UC their first win in the series against the Knights on the 2nd, in a 4-1 win.
This season, Atkinson is 42 this season, second on the Bearcats team in strikeouts. He is in first place on the team in the opponent batting average against him and holds an average of .213. All of this for 51.1 innings of pitching, which is also the second highest score on the team.
Going forward, Atkinson plans to use his Dietetics degree to become a sports dieter for a college team or community.
Even as the school year ends for most UC students, Atkinson still has plenty of baseball to focus on. The Bearcats have 11 regular season games played prior to the American Athletic Conference Tournament that summer.
Of those 11 games, the Bearcats will play against their Ohio State University rival Buckeyes. The Bearcats will also have one final duel against their Crosstown rival, the Xavier Musketeers.
The next game of the Bearcats will take place on Friday at 7:30 pm against the University of Memphis Tigers