Frederick Ragsdale III

Lyons Township High School rising senior, Frederick Ragsdale III, made several spectacular baseball catches as a center-fielder, and ESPN was there to showcase them.

Representing Team Illinois, Ragsdale received the Defensive Specialist Award at the eight-team GEICO High School Baseball National Championships, June 27-July 1, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

“It was really cool. I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t even know they were giving out awards,” Ragsdale said. “I knew one of the [other Illinois] players from playing with him. Pretty much everyone else I got to meet. It was a great experience, made some new friends.” 

Pool play games were broadcast on ESPN+ and the semifinals and finals on ESPNU. Team Illinois went 2-1 in pool play and lost to California 10-3 in the semifinals. California beat Arizona 16-7 for the title.

Ragsdale’s biggest defensive play came with Team Illinois leading Mississippi 6-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning with runners on first and second and two outs. 

The left-handed Ragsdale made an over-the-shoulder diving catch in left-center field with his body extended to end the threat. Illinois won 7-2.

“If it would have gone down, [Mississippi] would have scored two runs,” Ragsdale said. “Off the bat, I knew I had to get it. It was a little further than I expected to run. The ball’s right there, I jumped up and grabbed it.

“I slid on the ground for a few seconds and then I heard the other outfielders running in and yelling. And then I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go!’”

ESPN announcers likened that catch to ones by four-time Gold Glover Kenny Lofton, who retired after the 2007 season. Another catch linked on Twitter referenced eight-time Gold Glove winner Jim Edmonds, who last played in 2010.

“I have his card on MLB the Show , but that’s about it,” Ragsdale said.

“A bunch of my family and friends were recording it and then it was on YouTube so I’ve got to watch it. The next day, I got interviewed on ESPN with the mic and everything.” 

Ragsdale verbally committed to Division I Kent (Ohio) in January. He was impressed by the facilities, coaching staff and new business facility, which bodes well toward his plans for entrepreneurship. 

Ragsdale is hoping for another national trip with his White Sox ACE (Amateur City Elite) traveling team, trying to qualify for the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner-Cities) World Series, Aug. 4-9, in Vero Beach, Florida. As he did at LTHS, Ragsdale generally plays center field and leads off in the batting order.

The LTHS summer team went 8-4 in a condensed season and reached the June 22 regional finals of the first Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association state tournament since 2019. 

The Lions lost to eventual state champion Lane Tech 9-8 in eight innings after leading 8-0 entering the sixth. Rising junior Nathan Anderson had a no-hitter through five innings before being relieved because of his pitch count. 

LTHS coach Kevin Diete said other standouts included rising sophomore Luke Nicholas, a lefty-lefty outfielder/pitcher/first baseman, and rising senior second baseman/designated hitter Troy Stukenberg, who recently verbally committed to NAIA St. Xavier.

Roughly 25 Lions played this summer. Most worked around schedules with traveling teams.

“I’d say a majority of our guys do a great job trying to balance travel with us,” Diete said. “It’s good for them to get that [travel] competition, but high school is important because then we’ll see them and what they need to improve upon.”