ACCS first baseman remembers dad’s lessons

Published 12:10 am Thursday, February 24, 2011

NATCHEZ — Even though Ryan Goddard’s father is no longer watching him from the stands, the lessons he instilled into Goddard are still prevalent on and off the diamond.

Goddard, a senior starting pitcher and first baseman at Adams County Christian, has a 3.5 GPA and scored a 21 on the ACT. The dedication to his studies comes from his father, Michael Weathersby, who died in 2009 from leukemia.

“He was always telling me, ‘Go do your homework,’ or, ‘Go study for this test,’” Goddard said. “If I got an F, I was in trouble.

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“He’d always be asking me if I did my homework. If I was playing X-Box, he’d ask me if I had already done it.”

Weathersby was also a coach in the stands for his son, Goddard said.

“I can’t think of a game he wasn’t at,” he said. “He’d always be correcting me in the stands, saying that my arm’s lagging or my release point is wrong. Motivation-wise, he was big.

“I’m always wishing he could be here. I’m trying to play my best because of him.”

In his most recent start against Central Hinds Tuesday, Goddard struck out nine batters in five innings of work as ACCS won 13-0.

“Striking out batters is the best feeling in the world,” Goddard said. “I have a cutter, fastball, curveball and change, but my go-to pitch is my curveball. It’s the one I want to throw when I have two strikes.”

It’s Goddard’s first year to be able to start at first base since he got to high school, but Goddard said he played the position growing up. And although first base has the reputation of being an offense-first position, Goddard said good defense at first is underrated.

“At first, it’s important that you’re able to scoop up the ball well,” he said.

“My job is to catch the ball and get the guy out no matter where it’s thrown.

“That’s one of the toughest jobs, because you don’t know what kind of hop it’ll take or where it will go. A lot of people don’t understand that.”

Balancing schoolwork and baseball is a tough chore, Goddard said, and it requires a long attention span when you’re in the classroom.

“It’s hard to balance the two,” Goddard said. “Sometimes you have long practices, or you’re on a road game and you’re getting home late at night.

“The main thing is, you have to pay attention in class. No matter how much I want to fall asleep, I don’t want to have to do all the homework later.”

Goddard said he hopes to attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson to play baseball. Even if that doesn’t work out, he said he’d like to ultimately make it to Ole Miss to study business.