Ramstein is team to beat in 2017 high school baseball

Story and photo by Thomas Warner
Contributing writer
Brendan Hicks bats in the season-opening series against Wiesbaden.

High school baseball season has arrived and the Ramstein Royals are considered the team to beat in the Department of Defense Education Agency circuit. Ramstein has won four straight DoDEA Division I championships since head coach Tom Yost arrived and returns with enough talent this spring to make a run for number five.

“When DoDEA added baseball as a competitive sport, I think in 2009, it was pretty much Ramstein or Stuttgart winning the title,” said Yost prior to his team’s March tryouts. “In every sport there are going to be rivalries and we’ve just tried to develop our program with a set of expectations and a philosophy that everyone is aware of and everyone buys into. That’s happened and we go from year to year trying to instill those ideas with new players.”

Leading up to this 2017 campaign, Ramstein had posted a remarkable 80-2 overall record in the four seasons under Yost. He said having assistants who either played college baseball or have had sons who played gives his program a mentality and style that should produce high win totals. Yost’s assistants are Greg Sartain, who works with outfielders, and Travis Shoffner handles infield duties. Both were successful players in the Texas high school and college ranks. Steve Oswald is a self-developed pitching guru who works with the Royals hurlers and the other assistant is Pete Yost, the father of the head coach. A Vietnam veteran and former Marine, Pete Yost saw three children earn college scholarships and post magna cum laude grades. He is considered Ramstein High’s ‘life coach’ and has taken on a number of vital roles in the team’s run of consecutive championships.

“All of the coaches understand the perspective of what hard work and constant effort can produce and what a practice session at the next level should look like, so we operate with that mindset and there is no wasted time when we are with our student-athletes,” said Yost, who was also a productive player at Miami and helped that program to a National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament appearance. He is also a three-time academic All-American. “We also spend a lot of time away from the field developing our players who are new to the program and that comes from our older players showing leadership and taking on duties of leaders. The most fun for me is seeing the leadership develop in all of these guys. We want them to move on to successful times as adults.”

Ramstein actually lost its season opener three weeks ago when Wiesbaden came here and posted a 4-1 win to snap more than two straight years of winning. The Royals won the second game of that doubleheader and all DoDEA students have recently returned from spring break. The regular season lasts nearly two months before the Euro Tournament will be staged at Vogelweh May 25-27.

Kaiserslautern High, under head coach Chris Grogan, is the other area school looking for big things this spring. The program at Baumholder High has been suspended due to lack of players in what for the last few years has been a heavy deployment time with low enrollment figures.

Ramstein is the largest DoDEA school and has eight returning players including six starters. Kyle Glenn will play centerfield with Stanley Cruz at third, Reed Marshall at shortstop, Tieran Shoffner at second, Aaron Schlosser at catcher, and Andy Short at first. Many of the players on the Royals’ roster are interchangeable and will move to different positions depending on who is pitching in a specific game. Josh Harris, Brendan Hicks, and Sid Boggs are all seniors who provide more depth.

“Our practices are intense and there is a lot happening throughout the season, but the players all know it’s up to us to keep in shape during the offseason.” Marshall said. “We look forward to all the challenges that come with the success we’ve had. You can’t be cocky or take anything for granted and you can’t look too far ahead.”

The Royals lost their most productive pitcher from last season, Jonathan Oswald, but could benefit from leadership by players Naser Eaves and Boggs, who understand the culture of winning from their time with the Euro Champion RHS basketball program. Hicks put in lots of developmental time a year ago and now is the starting left-fielder for this RHS edition.

Yost was a productive hitter at Miami who placed himself in the school’s top 10 for batting average in a season (.409) and for a career (.349) during his time there at the turn of the new millennium. He said he and his wife, Laura, also a DoDEA teacher, try to link the baseball program to what they are doing year-round in everyday life situations.

“We develop a triangle – with the corners being connection, character, and competency,” Yost said. “The connection allows us to be close to the players and understand what sort of things they are going through, away from the game. Character deals with how we, as adults, carry ourselves and we can show it with how we treat our own families. Competency means we are competent as coaches and we operate at a high level so the players feel like we are competent to lead them. The biggest thing is that every bit of it has to be genuine.”

All players sign a behavior contract at the start of the season and are held accountable to live up to what is written into it and the culture that has developed is nothing short of remarkable. New student athletes who move here tend to learn about the RHS program based on its notoriety and many of the Royals players initially do developmental work with traveling all-star programs like the Ambassadors.

That development process consists of ‘battle buddies’ for every new player – a veteran who spends time with a newcomer to monitor grades, make sure they work hard, providing an ear if there is a question, and demonstrating how to carry oneself with high morals and behavior.

“As older players we know the new guys will be watching,” centerfielder Glenn said. “As far as wins or losses, we know every game could turn out either way so we don’t sit around discussing win streaks or records. We just want to approach every game singularly and every opponent with equal respect. People who aren’t willing to live up to the behavior expectations or don’t want to make the overall investment can’t be a part of the program.”