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College  | Story  | 3/14/2012

FSU's Ramsey back for more

Jeff Dahn     
Photo: Larry Novey

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – As Florida State center fielder and Perfect Game All-American James Ramsey prepared to play rival Florida in a non-conference game at UF’s McKethan Stadium Tuesday night (March 13), he displayed absolutely no regrets.

One moment of pause, perhaps, but no regrets. No second thoughts pertaining to wearing a Florida State Seminole jersey on this particularly beautiful north-central Florida night, just a moment to reflect on the equipment being used.

That moment came when a Perfect Game reporter asked the Alpharetta, Ga., native to think back on his high school days when he played in six PG WWBA (World Wood Bat Association) events with the East Cobb Patriots and the Ocee Stars between 2005 and 2008.

“Just being in those Perfect Game tournaments, you were seeing quality arms and swinging those wood bats; that’s something I always liked to do,” Ramsey said before the No. 6 Seminoles squared-off against the top-ranked Gators in front of a record McKethan Stadium crowd of 6,005 on Tuesday. “I wish we were swinging wood right now. That’s something I’ve always liked to do a lot better.”

Ramsey, a 6-foot, 190-pound senior on head coach Mike Martin’s 2012 FSU squad, isn’t swinging wood this spring – the NCAA mandates the use of BBCOR metal composite bats – but that hasn’t slowed him in the least.

The 2012 Perfect Game First Team Preseason All-American has emerged as one of the country’s top hitters just as the Seminoles are set to dive into the teeth of their Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) schedule and take aim at their second College World Series berth in three years and third since 2008.

FSU fell to Florida, 9-2, on Tuesday, a loss that snapped a 10-game win streak and gave the Seminoles a 14-2 record heading into this weekend’s three-game ACC home series with Virginia. Ramsey spoke with Perfect Game before the ‘Noles stepped in to face the Gators, and talked about the opportunities that lay ahead.

“Florida is such a great team, top-to-bottom; pitching, defense, hitting,” Ramsey said. “They’re the complete package and they deserve all the recognition they’ve been getting so far this season. We’re excited about the opportunity to compete against a bunch of great baseball players.”

It didn’t work out against the Gators that night, but it’s extremely early. Ramsey was drafted in the 22nd round by the Minnesota Twins in last year’s MLB amateur draft but opted to return for his senior season at FSU, something that doesn’t happen very often among the nation’s top prospects. All that needs to be known is that Ramsey marches to his own beat.

Before Tuesday’s game against the Gators, Ramsey led the ACC in seven offensive categories and was hitting .468 (22-for-47) with four home runs, 15 RBI and 25 runs scored, with a .894 slugging percentage and a .643 on-base percentage.

“It’s been great,” Ramsey said of the season to date. “All the anticipation to come back for this senior year has been great, and I have a great passion for the university and to just be the best. I come out every day and have a renewed sense of hunger to play the game that I’m so passionate about, and it’s been great to start off this year from a team perspective to know we have guys that are going to be a blue-collar team.

“We’re not going to surprise anybody but at the same time we’re not a team that a lot of other teams are going to be scared to play.”

Ramsey uses the term “blue collar” frequently when speaking about both himself and the Seminoles. After being drafted in a late round after his junior season, he said he never really thought twice about returning to Tallahassee.

“It’s been a culmination of a lot of things in the last year or so and I’m just really excited to be able to further my career,” Ramsey said. “I haven’t been surprised with this success and I’ve kept a humble attitude about the way I approach the game every day – hard-nosed –and I’ll continue to play that way and I’ll continue on in my career in baseball.

“I’ve talked about the passion I have for the university and it’s done a lot of great things for me,” he continued. “I just had a little bit of unfinished business and I wanted to come back and finish my degree – it’s a great business school – … and most importantly baseball-wise to come back here and lead a team on to something we’ve never done before.”

Ramsey graduated from Wesleyan High School in 2008 as only a top-1000 prospect and wasn’t drafted out of high school that year. He went to Florida State to play for Coach Martin and has never looked back.

“I’ve always been a guy who’s played with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder and I’ve gone about my business in a very blue-collar manor – that’s the way I’ve been raised,” he said. “I want to work for everything I get and reach my potential and stay hungry. These last three years have been great and I’ll continue on in my senior year to lead this team to great heights.”

He also continues to look back on those Perfect Game days, playing for the Marietta-based East Cobb Baseball organization.

“East Cobb was great,” Ramsey said. “It’s the kind of players that are right here; the top of the line talent-wise. The biggest thing I gained by playing (in PG events) and also playing in the (Collegiate Cape Cod League), you just realize that everybody’s got talent, but when you have a workman-like attitude about your game and you’re playing the game hard every day, that’s really going to separate you whether it be in coaches’ eyes or scouts’ eyes. The sixth tool – makeup – is more important than ever and that’s something I pride myself in being very strong in.

“Being from metro Atlanta, there’s a lot of great players and just to be able to get into that spirit of competition with a lot high elite players – and being a football player, and into basketball and tennis – I wasn’t able to do as much as I wanted during football season, let’s say.”

Ramsey is a spiritual young man, and it is that spirituality that guides him.

“I keep my faith in something that keeps me very grounded, knowing that probably the most important thing I’ve done so far this year is starting an email list of spiritual encouragement with a lot of Christians across the nation,” Ramsey said. “It helps keep things in perspective, knowing that I’ve got give the glory where it is and also continue to work hard and reach the heights I’m going to reach.”

Ramsey is not pegged by Perfect Game as a top-500 prospect in the upcoming draft, but don’t be fooled. If he continues to hit the way he has over the first few weeks of the 2012 collegiate season, he will be getting paid to play somewhere next season.