VandyMania Interview: Ryan Klosterman

Vanderbilt shortstop Ryan Klosterman spoke with VandyMania Wednesday from Charlottesville, Va., site of this weekend's NCAA Regional action. The junior from Clermont, Fla. talked about the SEC Tournament, the upcoming Regional, and next week's Major League Baseball Draft.

VandyMania: Ryan, the team arrived in Charlottesville, Va. safe and sound [Wednesday], correct? Hope the flight was uneventful.

Ryan Klosterman: Yeah. We had a nice flight up, and then a little bus trip over.

VM: Did the team get a chance to practice in Charlottesville [Wednesday]?

Ryan: No, we practiced at home this morning, and we'll practice Thursday afternoon on the University of Virginia's field.

VM: You used to play in the ACC... is this a park that you've been to before?

Ryan: No, I've never played here. My freshman year when we played them, we played them at Clemson. My sophomore year there I redshirted, and they played at Virginia that year.

VM: That Clemson team did advance to the College World Series that year, correct?

Ryan: My sophomore year they did, but not my freshman year. My freshman year I did get a couple of at-bats in the Regionals, so I have played in an NCAA Regional before, and I had one in the Super Regional as well. It was just pinch-hits when the games were out of reach though.

VM: But you weren't really getting the playing time there that you wanted, and that figured into your decision to transfer, correct?

Ryan: Yeah, definitely.

VM: Take us through the emotions that you guys have been through the last few days with the SEC Tournament, losing a close one in the championship, then finding out the next day that you're in the Regionals.

Ryan: It's been fun. We've been on a hot streak the last few weeks, and we're playing really good baseball. The SEC Tournament was a really good learning experience, as far as learning how to play in tournaments, learning how to stay out of the loser's bracket. I think it will help us tremendously for this regional.

VM: Were you guys a little bit down on that ride back from Hoover on Sunday?

Ryan: Yeah, we were. Everybody gave it their all all week, and played their hearts out. To come up one run short was tough. But again, we get to go play again this weekend, so it certainly wasn't the end of the world.

VM: What do you know about George Mason? You play them first on Friday.

Ryan: We know that they have a pretty good No. 1 pitcher and some pretty good hitters. Coach has told us they're a little bit more mature, and junior and senior-laden team. So they're going to be tough. They got here just like everybody else. They've got to be high on confidence as well.

VM: You're on a pretty good hitting binge right now. Talk about how you personally are feeling about going up against them.

Ryan: I've just been seeing the ball well lately, and getting good pitches to hit. My confidence is high right now, and in baseball, when your confidence is high, you feel like you can get hits forever, you know what I mean? If you feel good at the plate, chances are, you're going to hit better than you would if you're in a slump.

VM: When you made your decision to come to Vanderbilt, was it because you had redshirted that second year that you were eligible to play immediately?

Ryan: No, the redshirt really had nothing to do with it. It was more the fact that Coach Leggett at Clemson understood the situation I was going to be in there, and he felt the opportunity was going to be better for me at Vanderbilt. He gave me my release, and it wasn't a big deal.

VM: I take it that in retrospect, it's been a good move for you.

Ryan: Oh, it's been the best decision I've ever made in my life. So far!

VM: You won the Most Valuable Player award this season. The thing that really strikes people about you is your toughness. Where does that tough-as-nails mentality come from? Is it something you've always had, or has it been instilled in you by coaches you've had along the way?

Ryan: A little of both, really. I'm a younger brother, and just growing up with my older brother, you always had to be tough to play with the older boys. I'd attribute a lot of it to that.

VM: I know you probably get asked about the draft a lot, and you probably aren't thinking about that at all right now. But how far along are you in school right now? Are you at a point where you could graduate pretty soon? What are your plans as far as school?

Ryan: I've got one semester left. I should graduate next Christmas. As far as school goes, that's all I've got left. I'll study for a Masters' next spring.

VM: You might be doing that... or is that definite?

Ryan: Might. Yeah, that's a maybe.

VM: You will at least be paying a little bit of attention when the draft happens, correct?

Ryan: (laughs) I don't know.

VM: I know how close you are to Coach Corbin, and some have said that you are a lot like a mini-Coach Corbin. Can you talk about the relationship between the two of you?

Ryan: When I came over from Clemson, I'm sure a lot of players on the team thought I had some kind of special relationship with Coach. The situation wasn't like that at all. At Clemson he was the outfielders' coach, and I was an infielder. So, it wasn't really of any significance at all. When the opportunity opened up for him to come over here, and I went, the philosophy and mentality that he was trying to develop with this program were things that I'd already gone through at Clemson. Maybe it helped the team a little bit. There were some of the drills that I was more familiar with. I guess I just knew a little more with his philosophies and techniques, and what he expects out of his players.

VM: What would you say he has helped you with the most in order to improve your game?

Ryan: Just preparing us for every situation that could be thrown at us. He expects perfection. Everything that could happen to you in a game, he prepares you for that. It all helps us to go out on the field and perform.


Photos by Neil Brake, courtesy Vanderbilt Athletics.

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