SERGEANT BLUFF – Ryley McGregor uses his biggest attribute as a major weapon on the baseball diamond.
As the leadoff batter for fourth-ranked (3A) Sergeant Bluff-Luton, the track team sprinter puts pressure on the defense in a variety of ways.
That was on full display as the senior centerfielder went 6-for-8 with four runs and three stolen bases in a doubleheader sweep over West that allowed the Warriors to remain in a first-place tie in the Missouri River Activities Conference.
“I have to thank Nels (coach Matt Nelson) for that, mentally he always preaches to us to go up to the plate with a plan and putting a charge on the ball, preferably on a fastball,” said McGregor. “Have a plan to hit either the off-speed or the fastball and I’ve taken that into account.”
The Sioux City Journal’s Metro Athlete of the Week has been hitting the cover off the ball during a current seven-game hitting streak, where Sergeant Bluff-Luton has won six of those games.
The son of Kevin and Jenny McGregor has had multiple hits in each of the seven games during the streak and in 11 of the team’s 20 games this season.
“Earlier in the season when I wasn’t really hitting the ball with my swing I would try and lay a bunt down and try and get it the hard way,” he said. “Not every time you can lay a bunt down for a hit. I started swinging again and it came back.”
McGregor has overcome a 0-for-8 start to the season and thanks to the 22-for-27 stretch during the current hit streak has lifted his average to a MRAC best .522.
“It took him to getting his timing down, identifying the pitch that he can really get after,” said Nelson, in his second season as the head coach. “It all just kind of clicked within the last two weeks. He’s back at that caliber of being an all-state type kid like he was last year.
“It just took a little time at the beginning of the year.”
Sergeant Bluff-Luton entered Tuesday’s MRAC doubleheader against East with a 16-4 overall record and a 9-3 slate in the MRAC.
McGregor began his current hot streak the weekend before when he went 11-for-11 in three games as the Warriors won the Carroll Tournament. The team has also had three games postponed because of inclement weather during the last week.
“He kind of started last week, I noticed in the Carroll tourney he was just on base all the time,” said Nelson. “He really kind of found his groove late last week and continued it into this week.”
McGregor led the MRAC with 31 stolen bases while hitting .369 a year ago, his first in the leadoff spot. He is once again atop the MRAC with 27 stolen bases this season which is also the tops in Class 3A.
“He’s our leadoff guy, moved there last year,” said Nelson. “The one big thing, he is fast, but even on a groundball to the outfield, groundball in the infield or a pop fly to the outfield, he is on second base, he runs everything out.
“He sprints, he plays baseball the way you should play baseball. It’s really impressive to watch him play, especially running the bases.”
McGregor is one of 11 seniors on this year’s squad that seeks a second straight MRAC title, but more importantly a state tournament berth, the first for the team since 2015.
“Last year when we got it nobody really knew we got it until Nelson told us after a game, nobody honestly cared, it’s a big accomplishment but this team we have bigger picture in mind,” said McGregor. “We want to end on a Saturday in Des Moines.
“It would be nice to end the school year off with a big bang.”
Beau Bosley, East..Senior first baseman went 5-for-7 with five runs scored a home run and seven RBI as Black Raiders split MRAC twin bill against Bishop Heelan.
Lexie Stolen, Bishop Heelan...Senior shortstop went 3-for-3 with three doubles and drove in all three runs in a 3-1 win over fourth-ranked (3A) Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley.