Chris Ramsey is doing everything he possibly can to prepare himself for his first season with the Valparaiso University baseball team.
The 2013 Hilliard Darby High School graduate and outfielder is playing for the Cincinnati Flames travel team this summer and recently competed in the Heartland Classic in Norman, Okla., for Team Ohio, which finished second in the seven-team tournament.
Team Ohio lost to Team Texas 6-0 in the championship game June 22.
"That was one of the greatest experiences I've had in baseball," Ramsey said of the Heartland Classic. "I stayed with a host family that had three kids and we built great relationships. It was actually sad to leave.
"The competition was awesome. Everyone was good, from my teammates to the team that didn't win a game (Team Arkansas). I think it was a good experience to see players on that level because most of us are going to play in college."
Ramsey had the third-highest batting average (.310) in the tournament among players who had 20 or more at-bats, going 9-for-29 with seven runs, three RBI, three walks and three strikeouts.
"I thought I did very well given the competition and the pitching we faced," Ramsey said. "I batted leadoff every game and I thought I was squaring up the pitches well. It was a real good week."
Team Ohio went 6-3, including 4-2 in pool play, in the 36th-annual Heartland Classic, formerly known as the Sunbelt Classic.
In pool play, Team Ohio beat Team Colorado 4-3 and lost to Team Oklahoma 6-5 on June 18. It lost to Team Texas 13-3 and beat Team Georgia 7-4 on June 19 and beat Team Maryland 10-4 and Team Arkansas 12-2 on June 20.
In the single-elimination tournament, Team Ohio beat Team Colorado 16-3 and Team Oklahoma 7-6 on June 21 to advance to the final.
Ramsey was one of five Central District players on Team Ohio. The others were Brady Harris and Paul Trick of Olentangy Orange, Greg Jacknewitz of Watterson and Dan Sexton of Watkins Memorial.
Harris will be Ramsey's roommate at Valparaiso.
"I got along with all my teammates; we all meshed really well," Ramsey said. "Brady was the only kid I really knew ahead of time because I played against him in the summer when we'd play Ohio Elite. I've seen him at showcases and things like that. But it was kind of nice to spend some time with him before we get to Valpo."
This spring, Valparaiso won the Horizon League regular-season and tournament titles and went 1-2 in the double-elimination NCAA Regional tournament. The Crusaders opened regional play with a 5-4 loss to Indiana on May 31, as they allowed four runs in the ninth inning, including a walk-off, two-run home run.
Valparaiso bounced back to beat Florida 5-4 on June 1 before losing to Austin Peay 5-4 on June 2 to finish 32-28.
"They should've beaten Indiana and Indiana went to a losers bracket semifinal in the College World Series," Ramsey said. "It was tough to see Indiana go that far. But Valpo is a program on the rise. They're just getting better every season. I think they're going to be like Kent State, (which is) one of the better mid-majors in the north."
Ramsey, a left-handed batter, played center field for Darby and is playing right field for the Cincinnati Flames. This spring, he was the 53rd-ranked prospect in Ohio by Prep Baseball Report, was named an honorable mention Rawlings All-American and made the Mizuno All-Ohio team.
In 2012, he was named an honorable mention Perfect Game Pre-Season All-American among underclassmen.
"We knew from very early on that we wanted Chris to be a part of our team," said Valparaiso coach Tracy Woodson, a former major league player. "His work ethic, passion for the game and positive attitude is contagious. Chris is a very good left-handed bat who can run and play all three outfield positions."
Last summer, Ramsey was selected to compete in the Ohio Crossroads Baseball Showcase for the top 90 juniors in the state as well as the Buckeye State Showcase and Blue/Grey Classic in North Carolina.
This spring for Darby, he batted .343 with 22 RBI, 10 doubles, four triples and 23 runs and was named first-team all-district in Division I for the second consecutive season, as the Panthers reached a regional final before losing to Gahanna 8-1.
In addition to working on fundamentals and techniques this summer, Ramsey is preparing for fall conditioning with Valparaiso.
"When I went on my visit there, the players told me horror stories about the conditioning program they go through," Ramsey said. "They said it's the hardest thing they've ever done. The coaches don't allow you to pick up a ball or bat. You do that on your own after all the conditioning. So I am also trying to prepare for that."