August 14 - Ryan Dooley’s impact was never more evident then after he was hit by a pitch against Centreville on Mar. 30.
He was hitting .571 at the time and South Lakes was off to a 5-0 start. Over the next five weeks, Dooley played through the hand injury, a nagging pulled oblique muscle and missed a game over spring break after spraining his finger while sliding headfirst into second base. He hit just .206 and the Seahawks dropped 10 of 14 games while he was battling the ailments.
By May 7, Dooley was fully recovered and got hot again. He strung together five straight multi-hit games and hit .667 as the Seahawks won three of four before dropping a 7-6 extra-inning decision at Patriot in the Region 6D quarterfinals. He’d hit .397 with 25 hits and a .531 on-base percentage for the season, earning second-team all-region honors.
He hasn’t stopped hitting since.
Dooley, a left-handed swinging rising senior who has committed to play at the Virginia Military Institute, joined his Marucci Stars team in early June and hit .367 with a .557 on-base percentage while playing in showcase events and tournaments up and down the east coast. He took a weekend off in mid-July to help the North team win Gold at the Commonwealth Games, then suited up full-time for Vienna Post 180 - who he’d played part-time with throughout the summer - during its run to a second straight state championship.
“Ryan is a dude,” said Kevin Sisk, his coach with the Stars. “His athleticism to play multiple positions this summer was huge for our team. More than this is his ability to compete and his high baseball IQ. At the plate, running the bases, or defense he is a bulldog and battles till the end.
“He is everything a coach is looking for in a player. A winner.”
Dooley, who has played both middle infield positions and all three outfield positions and even pitched a bit during the American Legion campaign, settled in at second base the past few weeks as Post 180 strung together perhaps the best season in the storied program’s long history. He hit .408 with 29 hits in 20 games and was one of the toughest outs last week at the Mid-Atlantic Regional, going 13-for-23 over six games as Vienna advanced to within a game of its first World Series berth.
“He really made a difference with his athleticism,” Post 180 manager Nick Good said. “He’s extremely versatile, he can really play anywhere in the field. He was a great fit at the top of the lineup.
“He’s willing to lay down a bunt, sacrifice guys over and do what is good for the team as a whole.”
Dooley says that selfless approach and mentality is a product of often being the youngest player early on. “When I was younger, I played with older guys and wasn’t as good as them,” he said. “So I had to do what I could to help the team. And that was fine to me, that was growing up and that was just how you played the game. That was what you had to do.”
He’s no longer the young guy on the team who has to lay down bunts and move runners over to earn a spot in the lineup - he hit .383 in 270 plate appearances with the four teams this spring and summer - and yet it remains a big part of Dooley’s game.
That mentality and work ethic, he says, was instilled at a young age by his father, Sean, and while playing for Madison coach Mark ‘Pudge’ Gjormand with the Reston Warriors youth program. It grew while playing alongside his older brother, Jack, an all-region shortstop himself two years ago, and for South Lakes coach Morgan Spencer, who has quickly rebuilt the Seahawks program.
“He was always the better Dooley,” he says of his older brother. “He was always the best player on every team we played together, so I wanted to be like him. He and my dad showed me what it was like to work hard.”
That fire has only grown, as evidenced while playing through the ailments this spring and then the heavy workload this summer.
“I embrace it because I love the game, I love competing and I love winning,” Dooley said. “I love playing with my teammates and I love working hard. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Photos of Ryan Dooley were submitted and taken by Joey Kamide