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Busboom ready for Tigers

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Earlier this season, the Fort Hays State University baseball team had some stray balls in the outfield during a practice. Players started to walk off the field and senior Ryan Busboom went out and picked up the balls.

The returning first-team All-American is the guy who goes and gets them," coach Steve Johnson said. "He is an unbelievable teammate, a great kid."

Last season, Busboom finished with a remarkable year for FHSU in his first season after he transferred from Barton Community College. He hit .386 with 16 homers and 66 RBIs, all team-bests, and collected South Central Regional Player of the Year honors.

"I was pretty surprised I got All-American," Busboom said. "I didn't know what you all had to do to get All-American, I guess. It was pretty awesome just getting that award. I just took every AB one at a time, and it worked out well for me."

Busboom was the first Tiger All-American since Dusty Washburn in 2008.

"My only fear with him is please don't go out there with every swing and try to repeat last year," Johnson said.

Several times, Johnson and Busboom have talked about this spring.

"He started the season with the thought process of I am part of this team, I am going to help this team win. If it means a two-strike single to right, if it means hitting a ground ball to get a runner in, that's what he did," Johnson said. "His swing was good that way and he got hot. He started feeling it and great things happened and if he can get himself into the mindset to where that's the approach he takes, he has got a chance to go out and do anything that he wants to do."

So far, Busboom has helped Fort Hays start 3-1.

The Tigers will open conference play at home against University of Central Missouri with a doubleheader Saturday and a single game Sunday. On Wednesday, the Tigers collected a 17-3 home victory against NAIA Bethany College. FHSU used six pitchers and sophomore left-hander Nathan Zimmerman earned the victory. Busboom collected a double and carries a .389 average after four contests.

"If people want to constantly try to start comparing numbers day to day, it's not good for him and it's not good for anybody," Johnson said. "He needs to be Ryan Busboom, which is plenty enough to help this team every day."

New MIAA slate

The MIAA expanded to 15 teams this season, which means nearly the entire schedule is against conference teams.

"Three games on the weekend and then two games midweek are definitely going to change how you manage pitchers, how you give people rest, how you watch injuries," Johnson said.

"It's just different. Before you gear up for the weekend and the weekend is the big deal, and now, it hits you a couple of times during the week, and we are going to have to be ready for that and adjust to it."

Last year, the Tigers played 39 of its 53 games in regular-season conference action. This spring, every game the rest of the season is versus the MIAA. Teams will play three games on the weekend and then a midweek doubleheader.

"It affects baseball, I think personally more than anybody, because a basketball team still starts five guys," Johnson said. "It's going to change our format, how we handle pitchers, how we approach weekends. In the past, it was weekend after weekend after weekend and now, we are going to learn how to handle it as a team, we are going to have to learn how to coach as coaches in a format where Tuesday is just as important as Saturday/Sunday."