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With schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the high school sports season suspended, seniors who play spring sports are missing out on their final athletic opportunities. With that in mind, each week during the spring the Shore Sports Network will feature a senior athlete who would normally be making headlines on the field, diamond, track, golf course, tennis court or volleyball court. Each athlete will receive a $25 Jersey Mike’s gift card as the iconic Jersey Shore business continues its support of Shore Conference athletics.

Photo by Paula Lopez, graphic by Steve Meyer.
Photo by Paula Lopez, graphic by Steve Meyer.

Athlete: Ryan Lasko

School: Jackson Memorial

Spring Sport: Baseball

Position: Centerfield/Right-handed Pitcher

Bio: Coming off a breakout junior season in which he was a Shore Sports Network Second-Team All-Shore Outfielder, Lasko continued to impress over the summer and was drawing real interest from Major League scouts as high-school practices got underway during the first week of March. He is slated for his third year as a varsity starter on a Jackson Memorial team that has won 20 games and Class A South championships in each of his first two seasons as a starter and captured the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV championship in 2018 during his sophomore campaign. As a junior, Lasko hit .380/.423/.747 with eight doubles, seven home runs, 24 runs scored, 33 RBI and 14 stolen bases, placing him in the Shore Conference’s top 10 in home runs (tied fourth), extra-base hits (tied fifth), RBI (tied fourth) and slugging percentage (ninth).

Other Sports: “I messed around with basketball a little. I played travel up until about a year ago and I love playing pick-up and stuff like that, but not as much as I love baseball.”

College Plans: Rutgers University for baseball and also has drawn interest from Major League scouts. “My thought has always been ‘I am in a good spot no matter what.’ I have a great opportunity to go up to Rutgers. It’s a special opportunity to be in the draft talk and hopefully that’s something that I’ll have an opportunity to be a part of sometime in the future. I’m going to Rutgers for a reason, so I feel really good about the future.”

How are you staying in shape?: “I’m lucky enough to be able to hit, throw and work out at my house so I have been doing that Monday through Friday and whenever I might have a chance on the weekend. We have a cage in the back yard and a weight set, so I’m very lucky to be able to keep working on my game while we’re stuck at home.”

Hardest part(s) of being out of school/sports: “Everything is uprooted. You’re used to getting into a routine with school and athletics and it’s all a lot different now. You’re just sitting around and I’m used to being active. It never gets normal and hopefully it ends soon, but in the meantime, I’m still trying to keep normal schedule as much as I can.”

One positive that has come from having to stay home: “It’s still a great opportunity to get better. You have a lot of time to think about things and really break stuff down. It’s like an extended offseason. There is a lot of time in the day to try and be productive, so I see it as a great chance to just get better at everything.”

Favorite stay-at-home activity: “I would say probably PlayStation. There’s not much to do so that’s a good way to pass the time. I’ll usually play (MLB) the Show and (NBA) 2K. I think the biggest thing you get from those kinds of games is the competition. Nothing beats being out on the field but it’s fun just to play something where you try to be competitive and win.”

Coach’s Corner: "Three years from now, he could be a big pick for a Major League Club and a guy who is a program-changer at Rutgers. He just does things different from everybody else – from the way he works, to his attitude, to how he runs the bases, to way the ball comes off his bat. He fits the mold of that athletic Major Leaguer, so to speak, where those baseball movements come natural to him. He is 18, but he’s got those tools that make you realize that three years from now, he is going to get so much better.” - Jackson Memorial head coach Frank Malta

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