COVID canceled Alec Ritch’s 2020 season at Middlebury College in Vermont.
So he packed up his bags and went home to California, not really knowing when he would be able to play again. That’s how it went from March through June, until one of his Middlebury teammates called him and asked him to take a trip up to Seattle to train at Driveline for about six weeks.
He said yes, and he loved it.
“I felt like I was just starting to get my feet underneath me in a baseball sense and felt like I was just barely scratching the surface,” Ritch said of that first trip.
He went back to Middlebury that fall and crushed fall ball. Then, more bad news. It was looking like Middlebury wasn’t going to have a 2021 season either, and even if they did, it was going to be something like 10 games and no postseason.
Ritch decided he wanted to take some time away from school, maintain his eligibility, and formulate a plan.
His first idea? Go back to Driveline.
Despite playing football and baseball at Middlebury, Ritch showed up at Driveline weak – his strength score when he got there was 34 out of 100. His hip-shoulder separation was non-existent, and his sequencing was out of whack.
Plenty to work on over a five-month stretch.
It didn’t come easy for him. There were days, sometimes weeks, when he was tired and sore and felt like he was getting carved up. He kept the faith, though, both in himself and in his trainers.
All of that failure makes it really easy for Ritch to remember the exact moment when it did click for him.
He and three other hitters were using the mixed-pitch machine, doing a 2v2 back and forth on the HitTrax. In that one drill, Ritch hit an exit velo PR four separate times.
COVID did ruin Ritch’s 2020 and 2021 seasons at Middlebury, sure, but it turns out it might have saved his career.
The decision to leave school, to train and save some eligibility at the same time, now has him hitting 110+ mph rockets as a member of the Cal Bears baseball team. That’s not something he could’ve even dreamed of a few years ago.
“You have the smartest people in the world all working with you [at Driveline],” Ritch said. “If you really want to commit and find out how good you can be, go find out. Go to Driveline for six weeks…They’re going to give it to you straight and tell you exactly what you are, but they’re also going to give you the blueprint and help you become the best player you can possibly be.
“I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without spending that time at Driveline.”