By Mitch Silver
The Rye Lions Club has announced that Garnets baseball player Derek Woods is the Rye High Athlete of the Month for March. Derek, a senior, plays shortstop when he isn’t on the mound pitching. He’s currently batting .395 with two home runs (one a grand slam) and 23 runs batted in over 14 games. His pitching is even better, with five wins without a loss and an 0.74 ERA, striking out 42 batters in 28 innings.
“I’ve always loved pitching,” he said. “My best pitch is my change-up, which I’ll throw to righties and lefties at any point in the count.”
Head Baseball Coach Mike Bruno has this to say about his young star: “Derek has been a dedicated member of the Rye baseball team for the past four years. He’s been talented enough to play numerous positions, but I believe he has excelled at two of the toughest spots: shortstop and starting pitcher. Derek is often matched up with the opposing team’s best, to put his team in the best position to win.
“Derek leads by example and lets his performance on the field do the talking. He’s a player who handles himself with humility and class. Derek has always and will continue to be a role model for the younger players in the baseball program. He’s attending Colby College in the fall.”
Why Colby we asked the young star. “They have a good mix of academics and sports,” he said. “They finished second in their conference this year with a 20-11 record. I think the coaches are terrific.”
Speaking of academics, Derek sports a 95 GPA, earning departmental honors in History and Spanish. “And I really like my Calculus teacher, Mr. Merulo. He does a great job of getting the work across in a fun way.”
He also singled out Mrs. Jones, his 10-grade World History teacher. “I’m a big fan.”
Derek’s mother and father were both athletes: his dad played both football and baseball in high school, while his mom was captain of her school’s volleyball team.
During the Covid lockdown, Derek devised a summer camp in his backyard for his younger brother and his friends who had time on their hands. “I really connected with those 8-year-olds.”
He’s also volunteered for Bread of Life, a food pantry in Rye that delivers to those in need.
Derek’s win has earned him the right to join the other monthly winners at the Lions Club’s year-end get-together in June, when the Rye High Athlete of the Year will be announced.