ALEXANDRIA, La. (CALF) – It’s not often that young athletes in central Louisiana get the opportunity to learn fundamentals and techniques from a Division I baseball player, but they had that opportunity during the Thanksgiving break.
Timmy Ruffino, a pitcher at Coppin State in Baltimore, Maryland, spends his time back home in Louisiana coaching the youth.
“When I was her age, I was always looking for someone to tell me how to get into college,” said Ruffino, who is from Bogalusa. “Every time I get this opportunity, I like to take it and run with it.”
From a young age, Ruffino dreamed of playing college ball, but before he could achieve that, he had to learn to play the game differently than others.
Ruffino has an underdeveloped right hand.
“When I first started playing baseball, one of the parks wouldn’t let me play,” Ruffino said. “They said I had to be in the Miracle League. That was a league I didn’t want to play in. I wanted to show what I have. I felt like I should be out there with the kids who don’t have disabilities and who have two hands and two legs.”
Ruffino’s handicap is similar to that of former major league pitcher Jim Abbott, who achieved what few pitchers could achieve when he threw a no-hitter in the pros in 1993. Abbott was Ruffino’s inspiration and the drive he needed that ultimately earned him a spot at Coppinstrasse.
In his second redshirt season, Ruffino made nine appearances for Coppin St. on the five-start mound. He went 4-2 with a team-high 3.66 ERA and batted 26 batters while leading CSU to the NCAA Regionals for the first time in school history.
“It’s a kid’s dream,” Ruffino said of his school’s participation in the NCAA Regionals. “When you go to Alex Box and watch these games, you want to be in that environment, so being able to experience that environment in a regional setting was unreal.”
Josh Brown, Grace Christian’s head baseball coach, has been following Ruffino’s story for years and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to have Ruffino set up a clinic at the school.
“When I hear kids say they can’t do something, I want them to look to Timothy and say, ‘Never say you can’t,’ because this guy has it,” Brown said. “It’s just amazing to see what he’s doing at the Division I level.”
Before returning to Maryland for his spring semester, Ruffino plans to open another clinic for athletes in central Louisiana in December.
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