RIVER CLUB — Ryan Heuler always knew he wanted to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
So when the University of North Carolina offered him his first scholarship as a sophomore, the Cardinal Mooney High School senior and River Club resident couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement.
The 6-foot-3 right-hander verbally committed to play baseball for the Tar Heels. But over the course of the next two years, North Carolina recruited a number of other pitchers, and Heuler, realizing he more than likely wouldn’t get the amount of playing time he wanted, changed his mind and began looking at other schools.
“I really wanted to go there at first, but as time went on, I began to change my mind,” Heuler said. “It’s such a big well-known school, and they were the first school to offer me a scholarship.
“It was (nice) to be able to say I was going there, but I was only a sophomore in high school at the time,” he said. “Now looking back at it, I’m happy with what I did, and I wouldn’t do back.”
Heuler began looking at other schools during his junior year but eventually decided to stay within the ACC — verbally committing to play baseball for Wake Forest University in February.
On April 14, the Cougars pitcher and first baseman signed a letter-of-intent to pitch for the Demon Deacons. Heuler chose Wake Forest over Arizona, Georgia, Florida International University and the College of Charleston.
“It’s really nice,” Heuler said of finally signing. “There’s not the whole worrying about college (anymore) because I know where I’m going to be for the next three or four years.”
Heuler began playing wiffle ball as a toddler before joining his first T-ball team when he was in kindergarten. Over the years, Heuler continued to develop his skill level, eventually becoming one of Cardinal Mooney’s top pitchers.
During his junior year, Heuler threw his first no-hitter and piled up 16 strikeouts in another game before an injury forced him to sit out the rest of the season. But that didn’t stop Heuler from being in the dugout with his teammates as the Cougars advanced to the regional finals.
“I just like the fact that it’s not a one-man sport,” Heuler said of baseball. “There are eight other guys on the team who have to (play well) to win the game. Even if you play a great game, there’s still a chance you could lose. Everything has to click at once.”
Heuler now will prepare to close out his final season at Mooney before heading up to Wake Forest in August.
Eventually, Heuler, who plans to major in business marketing or political science, hopes to play professional baseball, but for now, he’s content knowing he’ll be spending the next three or four years playing in the ACC.
“I’ve thought about it for a while, and the opportunity will still be there unless it was life-changing money,” Heuler said. “Right now I just want to play and get a degree. The draft will still be there in a couple years. It’s not like it’s going anywhere.”
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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