Heritage High School shortstop Ryan Jackson has been hitting things for as long as he can remember.
It turns out, all that activity has paid off.
Jackson has committed to the University of Nevada-Reno and recently topped off his high school career by being named Heritage’s Male Athlete of the Year.
“I feel very honored to receive that award,” Jackson said. “I worked very hard toward that goal. I loved getting the award.”
The dynamic infielder hit .457 with 86 hits, 45 RBI and 55 runs scored in 61 varsity games for the Patriots over four seasons, which included a two-game stint as varsity freshman and a four-game senior campaign halted by shelter-in-place restrictions, according to Maxpreps.com.
He is also a talented pitcher, finishing 5-1 with a 0.92 varsity ERA, 67 strikeouts and four saves in 16 appearances (45.2 innings), including eight starts.
His Male Athlete of the Year award is just the latest in a string of garnered honors, including a 2019 league MVP award; a Heritage High School’s MVP award; North Coast Section Baseball Player of the Year recognition; and Prep2Prep Junior of the Year acclaim.
“Ryan is not only a talented baseball player, but also a kid of high character,” said Kevin Brannan, Heritage head coach. “He is a team leader, who leads by example and is a great teammate.”
To nobody’s surprise, when Jackson was on the field, the Patriots succeeded.
He played his first full varsity season as a sophomore, when he hit .358 with 29 hits, 17 RBI and 19 runs scored, helping Heritage bounce back from a second-place Bay Valley Athletic League finish to win the league title and advance all the way to the North Coast Section semifinals.
A year later, he won the league MVP award as a junior, after hitting .582 with 53 hits, 28 RBI and 30 runs scored, propelling the squad to another league title and on to the North Coast Section title game.
“He had a season for the ages as a junior,” said Heritage Athletic Director Nate Smith. “We have had some great players, who (are now playing with the A’s and Yankee organizations), and you can make the case that Ryan’s season might have been the best individual season.”
Jackson parlayed his success into discussions with at least six other colleges, including San Jose State, St. Mary’s, Boise State, University of Utah, California State University, Long Beach and Cal State Northridge, before inking his future with University of Nevada, Reno.
But the 5-foot-10 shortstop’s achievements shouldn’t come as a surprise.
His parents were successful amateur baseball and softball players, and he’s been playing and improving for as long as he can remember — even when circumstances don’t swing his way.
Despite losing his high school senior season due to shelter-in-place restrictions, he continued to work out at home, train with a few of his teammates and maintain a focused hitting and throwing routine.
It’s all for good reason.
Before long, he’ll transition to college, where he says he plans to fundamentally improve, while gaining weight and increasing his strength and speed — hopefully all in three years — to enter the MLB draft.
“I love playing baseball,” he said. “I just love the teammates, everyone’s energy on the field. I just love it.”