Friday, April 10, 2009 2:59 AM
By Mark Znidar
The Columbus Dispatch
At the recreational level, pingpong is supposed to be a game where the fun quotient is more important than the final score.
It doesn't work that way with Ryan Dew and brother Andy. They play for keeps.
"We started playing at a beach house on vacation in Virginia Beach a couple of years ago, and then I got a table for Christmas," Ryan said. "It has just escalated. We can put on a pretty good show. Our rallies can last a minute or longer. We keep a running tally of wins and losses. We play at all hours. And we can really slam the ball."
Ryan Dew used to take the same all-or-nothing approach with baseball, and the results were a mixed bag in his first two seasons as the starting right fielder for Ohio State.
At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, he was in a lineup of mostly peashooters and thought he had to provide power. He batted .269 with one homer as a freshman and .261 with three homers in 2008.
"We felt when we recruited Ryan that he would project to being a player that could hit with some power, and I think he was trying to hit for power too much and got to overswinging," coach Bob Todd said. "We've got him back to the basics and timing the baseball. His natural strength is taking care of driving the baseball.
"All this has come with maturity."
Dew, a junior from Worthington Kilbourne, is tied with two other players for the Big Ten lead in hitting with a .402 average going into the Buckeyes' three-game series against Michigan State. The first game is at 6:35 tonight in Bill Davis Stadium.
All of Dew's numbers are impressive. He has a .515 slugging percentage, a .429 on-base percentage and has struck out just five times in 97 at bats. He has two home runs and 16 RBI.
Swinging for the fences no longer dominates his thinking.
"I used to put so much pressure on myself to perform," he said. "I worried about the expectations. Now, I'm at peace with my role. I think it is a maturity thing. Before, I'd worry about driving in a runner. Now, I just look for my pitch and try to get the runner over. Before, I'd think about not having a hit in a certain number of at-bats and started to press.
"This is such a mental game, and you just can't think like that."
The transformation from good player to one of the team's best was just a matter of time, assistant coach Greg Cypret said. "Ryan is such a good, solid person and such a team guy, and he was doing all the right things," Cypret said.
"The thing about Ryan is he's so positive. The difference is that when he gets frustrated he'll shake it off. He'll realize there will be another at-bat or another day. This is a guy who is always thinking, 'This is the goal and let's see how we can get this done.' Ryan is a joy."
Dew glows when talking about what it means to play for the Buckeyes.
"All I want to do is help Ohio State win," he said. "All the other things like statistics just don't matter. It was my dream to play Division I baseball, and I've been fortunate enough to play it at Ohio State."
Dispatch Series Preview
Ohio State (23-7, 3-3) VS. Michigan State (11-18, 3-3)
• Where: Bill Davis Stadium
• When: Nine-inning games at 6:35 tonight, 1:05 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday
• Radio: Each game on WTDA (103.9 FM)
• Series: Ohio State leads 126-82-1. Buckeyes won two of three games last season.
• Of note: Ohio State and Michigan State are one game behind Illinois in the Big Ten. There is a new brick ticket booth at the southwest corner of the stadium. The years of Ohio State's appearances in the College World Series and Big Ten championships have been placed above the archway leading into the ballpark.