St. Aloysius duo sets big goals for the spring

Published 11:42 am Friday, December 2, 2011

When looking back at what former St. Aloysius standouts Pierson Waring and Ryno Martin-Nez have accomplished, their combined resumé is already impressive.

Commanding big bullet points for the pair are two Class 1A state titles at St. Al and two strong freshman seasons at Hinds Community College.

But the best might be yet to come. Both have another year at Hinds and are headed to Division I-A programs in 2013. Martin-Nez will play at Louisiana Tech in Ruston and Waring will go to Mississippi State.

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Former St. Aloysius head coach and Hinds assistant coach Clint Wilkerson, who coached both of them for half a decade in the high school and JUCO ranks, had no doubt this day would come for the pair.

“I’ve had both of these kids for a lot of my life and I know both of them are going to do very well,” Wilkerson said.

Martin-Nez had a tough road to signing his letter of intent. He suffered two torn knee ligaments playing football in 2009 and returned to the diamond to finish off archrival Cathedral in the Class 1A semifinals on the mound and went 5-for-8 in a 2-1 series victory over Myrtle.

The injury made him appreciate baseball that much more.

“I’m actually glad that I had knee surgery,” Martin-Nez said. “You really can’t appreciate something until it’s nearly taken away from you.”

As for his college choice, Martin-Nez was blown away by his visit to Ruston. It made for an easy decision.

“I had a really great visit there,” Martin-Nez said. “I really liked the coaches and the players and it felt just right. It felt like going home.”

The La Tech coaching staff intends to play Martin-Nez at third base and possibly the outfield and he will join a squad in 2010 that was among the NCAA leaders in several offensive categories.

Wilkerson thinks Martin-Nez, who hit .288 with three doubles and 10 RBIs, is primed for a monster year at Hinds and that could open the door for bigger things in Ruston.

“Ryno wasn’t 100 percent last year,” Wilkerson said. “I think he’s 100 percent healthy (now). He’s had a great fall and I think he’s set for a big year.”

Waring, who rotates between the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the Hinds’ batting order, was one of the nation’s leaders in batting average before being slowed by a hamstring injury. But he recovered and finished with a .363 average with 17 RBIs and three triples while playing at second base.

“I’m just really excited,” Waring said. “To play at State has always been a dream of mine. I can’t wait to get up there.”

Waring is the classic example of a pesky hitter who makes pitchers work to get him out. And when he gets on base, he’s a solid baserunner with excellent skills and wiry, nervous energy.

“As long as I’ve coached, I’ve never seen anyone better at extending an at-bat by spoiling off pitches,” Wilkerson said.

Martin-Nez, who has played baseball with Waring for most of his life, has always appreciated his running mate’s skills.

“He’s just so scrappy,” Martin-Nez said. “He’s always running 90 to nothing, all of the time. He’s the toughest out I’ve ever seen.”

But while their destination is already prepared for their junior and senior seasons, the pair are focused on their immediate goal: bringing a state championship to Hinds.

“I think we’ve got a good team,” Waring said. “We’ve got as much talent as last year, but with more pitching and a little more experience.”