After four years of embracing South Whidbey baseball’s motto of team-first, it’s finally time for Ricky Muzzy to stand alone.
Muzzy, a pitcher and shortstop, was named the Cascade Conference’s player of the year by the league’s coaches to cap off a four-year varsity career. He batted .538, hit three home runs and 18 RBI, and stole 20 bases this season. Named to the first-team all-league team the last two seasons, Muzzy will play for Lower Columbia College next year where he hopes to eventually move on to a Division I program. Muzzy finished in the top four in last season’s most valuable player voting.
Though he would have much rather seen the Falcons repeat their performance from last year when the team finished second in the class 1A state championships, Muzzy was proud to have gained the respect and admiration from the league. South Whidbey finished 13-10 overall.
“I think it just caps off my high school baseball career for sure,” Muzzy said. “It’s definitely a solid end.”
“I’m happy to rep South Whidbey too,” he added.
Having gained a reputation for his blend of power hitting and speed, Muzzy was a force for the Falcons as a leadoff hitter. He also excelled at shortstop and pitcher, notably when he threw a complete game to send the Falcons to the semifinals in last season’s playoff run. Falcons head coach Tom Fallon said the team will miss him as a player and as a team leader.
“He was really the guy that all the other teams respected and feared,” Fallon said. “They knew when he got on base, he would be a threat to steal and basically be a run producer.”
Fallon felt Muzzy epitomized the team’s motto of putting the team first before the individual, which was something he and the other coaches have instilled in the athletes in their four years leading the program. He also possessed a different style of leadership than what would be expected from a player of his caliber. While fellow graduated senior Charlie Patterson led the team vocally, Muzzy let his play do the talking.
“He wasn’t the guy who had to tell you how good he was,” Fallon said. “He wanted to show you.”
His strongest attributes, according to Fallon, were his speed, opposite field hitting and base-running ability. Despite starting in the sport later than his fellow teammates as an eight-year-old, Muzzy’s work ethic during the offseason helped him in his development.
“He always played summer baseball,” Fallon said. “That experience just translates and he just got better and better. He’s always an extremely hard worker in the offseason and he’s just a tremendous athlete.”
For Muzzy, it was never about individual statistics. It was his contribution to the team that gave him joy during his career. Muzzy said that Fallon and assistant coaches Bill Patterson and Craig Antich played a large role in his development into becoming a humble player.
“I like to see everyone do well,” he said. “It’s a lot better feeling than me personally doing well and the team doing bad.”
Muzzy said his most memorable experience was the Falcons’ state run in 2015. South Whidbey entered the state championships as underdogs, but battled through several nine-plus inning games to reach the state finals. They lost to Hoquiam 6-4, but made history by becoming the first baseball team in Falcon history to reach the state championship.
“It’s what you want to do,” Muzzy said. “You want to leave your mark and we did it as a team.”