Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rider Flashes Some Major Skill Former Peters Standout Has Been a Hit for Kent State

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rider Flashes Some Major Skill Former Peters Standout Has Been a Hit for Kent State

Article excerpt

During his eight years as Kent State's baseball coach, Scott Stricklin has coached 22 players who were major league draft picks, including Emmanuel Burriss, who now plays for the San Francisco Giants.

When Stricklin was an assistant at Georgia Tech, he coached Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees.

But a shortstop from Peters Township High School is at the top of Stricklin's list of best players.

Jim Rider is a senior at Kent State, and the 2008 Peters Township graduate has played a huge role in Kent State making history this season. The Flashes are the first Mid-American Conference team to make the NCAA Super Regionals and will play a three-game series this weekend at the University of Oregon. At stake is a berth in the College World Series.

But Rider has made personal history as well. Earlier this season he became the all-time hits leader in the MAC and he has 346 hits heading into the Super Regionals.

Match his hitting with his defense and attitude, and Rider is a coach's dream.

"He's the best baseball player I've ever coached," Stricklin said. "I mean the best 'player.' He's not the best athlete. I just mean the best, all-around player, and I coached at Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt before I came here."

Rider has batted .344 or better in all four years of his Kent State career. This season, he is second on the team with a .367 average and his 99 hits ties for sixth best in NCAA Division I. He also has 53 RBIs and his 27 doubles ties him for second in Division I.

At the NCAA regional in Gary, Ind., this past weekend, Rider batted .444 (8 for 19) and was 4 for 9 in a 21-inning game against Kentucky.

When Stricklin recruited Rider at Peters Township, he knew he was getting a better-than-average player. As a senior, Rider was a Post- Gazette All-Area selection (top 10 players in WPIAL and City League).

But Rider has gone way beyond Stricklin's expectations.

"We knew he would be a solid defender for us, and we knew he would give us a shot at the plate," Stricklin said. "But we never, ever foresaw him being the all-time hits leader at our school and the all-time hits leader in our conference. We couldn't have even dreamed of that."

Neither could Rider. …

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