Lemon-Lime Strawberry X-Factor Gatorade has always tasted best to Ryne Roper.
It's imaginable that the sports drink will taste even better as the Harrisburg High School outgoing senior was named the 2013 Gatorade Illinois Baseball Player of the Year Tuesday.
Roper, who plans to join his brother Reid at the University of Illinois this fall, calls the award an honor.
"It's pretty cool," Roper said Tuesday. "It's a distinguished honor and one that I am very proud of."
Roper, who led the Bulldogs on the mound with an 11-0 record, including two saves this season is also the first player from Harrisburg to receive the honor from Gatorade.
"That's the most special part to me," Roper added. "It's nice to be recognized in the southern part of the state. More times than not, you see these kind of awards given out in the northern part of the state. It's nice to know I not only represent southern Illinois, but to be able to put Harrisburg on the map like that is cool."
Gatorade has been handing out the award since 1986.
In 68 innings this year, Roper established a 0.41 ERA with 106 strikeouts and just eight walks. He has six complete games, one no-hitter and one perfect game. Roper had a stretch of 42.3 straight scoreless innings at one point this season.
Offensively, Roper was every bit as dominant as he was on the mound. The right hander hit .468 with nine home runs and had 39 RBIs.
Roper Texas Ranger
Over Memorial Day weekend, Roper took a flight to Arlington, Texas where he performed in a one-day workout at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Part of the workout included, running a 60-yard dash, taking ground balls and hitting on the field.
Roper said that he felt like he held his own among those that received an invitation from the Rangers, but at the same time, he knows he could have performed better.
"The atmosphere was unbelievable," Roper said. "It was really cool to know you're taking part in something on a big league ball field."
Waiting For The Phone To Ring
Up next for Roper is the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, which will be held June 6 through the 8.
Roper would love to hear his name to be called, but when and where he's not sure. Many prognostications have Roper possibly going in the 7-12 round range. Most recently, Roper's one-time teammate Keelin Rasch was a 41st round pick by the Atlanta Braves. Roper's brother Reid was drafted in the 29th round by the Braves.
Page 2 of 2 - At the same time the MLB Amateur Draft is going on, Roper will be lacing up his cleats to play for the Midwest Mules out of Litchfield and coached by Clyde Oliver.
Roper's first tournament will be on June 6 at Butler University in Indianapolis.