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Versatility rewarded: Ross wrapping up career as two-sport athlete at Tri-West

Kai Ross played QB for the Tri-West football team and shortstop for the Bruins baseball squad. He’ll head to Franklin College in the fall. (Photo by Dave Gansert)

By Mike Beas

Kai Ross spent last summer and fall making a smooth transition from defense to offense in leading the Tri-West football program to nine wins and a Class 3A sectional championship.

Now that it’s baseball season, the senior does it numerous times each game.

Ross, who grew up playing quarterback, was needed in the defensive secondary during his junior campaign. He was again behind center in 2020 — parlaying his ability to throw and run with the pigskin into a spot on next season’s roster at Franklin College, a Division III program.

Ross, who carries a 3.4 grade-point average, plans to major in business management.

In the meantime, however, he’s handling shortstop responsibilities for coach Ryan Oppy’s baseball squad while being the second hitter in the Tri-West lineup.

With the postseason about to begin, Ross leads the Bruins in hits (17), runs (15) and batting average (.298). The Bruins drew a bye at the Class 3A Brebeuf Sectional and face Ritter in the 10 a.m. semifinal on May 31.

“I’m looking for him to drive the ball to either move the (No. 1 hitter) along or drive him in. And for Kai to get on base himself,” said Oppy. “Kai has the most runs scored on our team, so he’s doing well in that role.

“As a fielder, he’s very consistent, making some somewhat hard plays look easy.”

Ross’s baseball career will last as long as Tri-West remains in the postseason. After that, he’ll focus solely on football as part of the Grizzlies program, which is led by second-year coach Alan Hensell.

Ross did a Q&A with ICON:

Q: Quarterback and shortstop are two of the most pressure-packed positions in sports. What is the key to being able to excel at both?

A: I’ve played shortstop most of my life and quarterback most of my football career. It’s a matter of practicing like you play. Being a shortstop helps a lot with being a quarterback with getting out of the pocket and arm angles (when you throw).

Q: How will you look back at your athletic career at Tri-West?

A: Obviously, not having a spring season last year was tough, but I’ll look back on it and think I’ve done as much as I could. I’m happy with it. Tri-West is just all about tradition.

Q: What will be your major at Franklin College, and what do you like about the opportunity to be a student-athlete there?

A: I will major in business management. I like how Franklin College is a small school like Tri-West, and the town is really nice, too. And I love the football stadium (Faught Stadium).

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