Baseball: Ryan Hudspeth, Ryan Richadson bound by baseball
By Erik Jacobsen email@example.com July 14, 2012 6:54PM
Ryan Richardson takes a swing at the plate while playing for Elgin Community College this spring. Richardson and longtime friend Ryan Hudspeth will both play at Michigan State next year. | Submitted Photo
Updated: August 17, 2012 6:46AM
Ryan Hudspeth and Ryan Richardson have worn many different hats and jerseys throughout their days as baseball players, but one thing that hasn’t changed is their status as teammates.
What began on a 10-year-old travel baseball team in Wasco in 2002 will continue this fall when Hudspeth and Richardson enroll at Michigan State and begin preparing for their roles as members of the Spartans baseball team.
This past spring Hudspeth and Richardson suited up for Elgin Community College, marking the 11th straight year they’ve played on the same team. Along the way they enjoyed successful high school careers at St. Charles North and logged countless hours together on several different travel teams.
Now their friendship and mutual love of baseball takes them to East Lansing, Mich., where they’ll have an opportunity to play for a Division I program on the rise.
“When you’re little kids and playing together in Wasco, you have no idea something could fall into place like that,” Hudspeth said. “A lot of things have happened for it all to fall in place, so it kind of makes you a believer that everything happens for a reason.”
From Texas to Wasco
Adding an interesting twist to an already improbable story, Hudspeth and Richardson both spent their early childhoods living in Texas. Although they didn’t know each other in the Lone Star State, their paths eventually crossed after Hudspeth’s family moved to St. Charles and Richardson’s family moved to South Elgin.
Hudspeth and Richardson first took the field as teammates with the Wasco Warriors 10-year-old travel team in 2002. They stuck together through a switch to a St. Charles North feeder team several years later before arriving as freshmen with the North Stars.
During their time in high school, Richardson made a name for himself as one of the area’s best hitters and shortstops while Hudspeth developed into a formidable left-handed pitcher. Richardson actually moved up to the varsity level as a sophomore, one year ahead of Hudspeth, but their streak as teammates continued on a summer travel team.
As seniors at St. Charles North in 2010, Hudspeth and Richardson helped the North Stars post a 33-5 record and win both Upstate Eight and regional titles. Both players were named to the All-UEC team, and Hudspeth landed on The Courier-News All-Area team for the second straight year while also garnering IHSBCA All-State honors.
“This is just a ballpark estimation, but I’ve probably only thrown like 70 innings without Ryan behind me at shortstop,” Hudspeth said. “I’ve probably only started about 12 games without Ryan behind me through all my baseball.”
Paths remain intertwined
It appeared the run as teammates would come to an end when Richardson landed a scholarship to play college ball at Nebraska while Hudspeth made plans to pitch at Elgin Community College. Fate works in funny ways, though, and Richardson used a medical redshirt his freshman year at Nebraska after sustaining a shoulder injury and then transferred from the school last summer after the Cornhuskers hired a new coach.
The streak of consecutive years as teammates continued last summer when Hudspeth and Richardson teamed up with the Chicago Zephyrs of the Midwest Collegiate League. Around that same time Richardson decided to join Hudspeth at ECC for the 2012 season.
The situation worked out well for Richardson, who landed a scholarship to play at Michigan State late last summer. NCAA rules state that scholarship athletes must sit out one year if they transfer from one Division I school to another, so joining the Spartans gave Richardson a chance to stay sharp on the field and team up with Hudspeth yet again.
ECC posted a 32-19 record this spring, and Richardson landed All-Region IV honors after leading the team with 39 RBI and finishing second on the squad with a .393 batting average and 49 runs scored.
Meanwhile, Hudspeth was busy putting the finishing touches on a two-year run that saw him post a 10-2 pitching record for ECC. In late April he realized a lifelong dream when he landed a non-scholarship spot on Michigan State’s team for next year, thus extending his time as a teammate with Richardson even longer.
“Every year we’ve played together we’ve gotten closer and become better friends,” Richardson said. “It’s cool to be able to play that long with somebody, and to know we’re going continue to play for another couple years is great.”
Michigan State awaits
The Hudspeth and Richardson families have long been known to car pool to baseball tournaments, and rest assured the parents will do the same going back and forth to Michigan State to watch the next stage of their sons’ baseball careers.
Hudspeth and Richardson will join a Michigan State program on the rise. The Spartans finished 37-23 last spring, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 33 years under third-year coach Jake Boss Jr. Michigan State won the Big Ten title in 2011.
“Michigan State is becoming a real good program and I’m excited to contribute and hopefully help make the program even better,” Richardson said.
For Hudspeth, the opportunity to play at Michigan State holds particular importance.
“My parents went there and my whole family is from Michigan,” Hudspeth said. “I was born a Spartan.
“I didn’t want to settle for anything less than Michigan State, and if I went anywhere else out of high school other than a community college it would have sort of slammed the door on that. Going to Elgin Community College gave me two more years to develop and two more years to just work hard and try to get there.”
Richardson has three years of eligibility remaining and has a chance to earn a starting spot on Michigan State’s infield next year. Meanwhile, Hudspeth looks forward to contributing any way possible during his final two years of college eligibility, whether it be as a reliever or stater.
The duo follows in the footsteps of 2007 St. Charles North graduate Jeff Holm, who went on to play four years at Michigan State before being drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2011. Whether Hudspeth and Richardson join Holm in the professional ranks remains to be seen, but ECC coach Bill Angelo likes their chances of having success at the Division I level.
“Ryan Richardson is going into a situation at Michigan State where the whole infield — second, short and third — are going to be pretty much open for him to try and earn one of those spots because a couple guys graduated and they lost a guy to the draft,” Angelo said. “With Hudspeth being a lefty specialist, you can never have enough quality pitching.
“I think those guys will fit in well there at Michigan State. I’m happy and excited for both of them.”