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Big college debut for former Troup Tiger

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

For four seasons, Ryan Bliss tormented opposing teams as the starting shortstop for the Troup Tigers.

Bliss wasn’t just a slick-fielding infielder, but he was also a formidable member of the Troup lineup.

Now, Bliss is ready to take on a new challenge.

Bliss is a freshman member of the Auburn baseball team, and during a fall exhibition game on Saturday, he showed he may be ready to conquer a new arena.

During a 7-1 victory over Western Carolina, Bliss had two hits, including a double, and he drove in three runs.

It was the collegiate debut for Bliss, as well as a handful of other highly-touted freshmen.

“It means a lot,” Bliss said. “I’ve been committed here for like two years, and just watching on TV, and coming to games. I was thinking this could be me one day. To do that and finally be here, it means a lot to me. The fans are nice, and it’s a great ballpark. There’s nothing like being on the plains.”

Bliss comes to Auburn after a sensational high-school career that ended with a spectacular senior season where he hit close to .500 and led the team in home runs and RBIs.

Bliss was drafted in the 30th round by the Boston Red Sox, but he chose to go the college route.

Now, Bliss will try to crack the lineup for a team that ended with a loss to Florida in the NCAA super regional.

While Bliss was exclusively a shortstop at Troup, he played second base during Friday’s game.

Junior Will Holland is the returning starter at shortstop, and he was one of Auburn’s best players last season.

Bliss had all sorts of options when it came time to choose a collegiate home, and during his signing ceremony, he said Auburn felt like the ideal fit.

“With coach (Butch) Thompson and all those guys, I knew it was home,” Bliss said. “Sometimes you just feel things are right, and that was just right. It’s perfect. And Auburn’s gotten so much better. They almost made the College World Series last year. It’ll be fun.”