His father was once a head basketball coach.

His older sister was involved in sports too.

Thus, it was inevitable that Andrew Ayres would make his way to the playing field in some way, shape or form.

And he isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

Ayres recently decided to continue his academic and baseball careers at Heidelberg University, a Division III private university in Tiffin.

The Tallmadge senior first baseman is undecided about his major, but he is leaning toward taking business-related courses. Ayres, a four-year letter winner, was a three-year starter for the Blue Devils.

When he made his way toward Seneca County, Ayres immediately fell in love with the 110-acre campus.

"I chose Heidelberg without seriously considering any other colleges because of its past success and because of how much I enjoyed my visit there," he said.

This "past success" included a trip to the World Series.

The Student Princes reached that prestigious destination for the second time in school history last year. They finished 33-17 overall, including a 14-4 mark in the Ohio Athletic Conference.

Success has been the norm at Heidelberg for much of the 21st century.

The Student Princes have won seven OAC regular-season titles since 2003 and four OAC tournament championships.

Unfortunately, Heidelberg’s 2020 season was abruptly cut short due to a deadly respiratory tract infection known as the coronavirus.

At least the Student Princes were able to get on the field a few times, though. Heidelberg was 7-5 when the NCAA decided to cancel the rest of the season.

Ayres, on the other hand, did not get to experience a single second of his senior season on the diamond. The Ohio High School Athletic Association canceled the entire spring season last month due to the virus.

"This season was very disappointing," Ayres said. "I looked forward to my senior year of baseball for a long time and it just got taken away from me."

While Ayres would have done anything to get his season back, it was quite a ride for the slick-fielding cornerman.

Ayres was a member of the Blue Devils’ 2017 team, which won its first state title in 15 years. He also was the starting first baseman when Tallmadge reached the state semifinals the following year.

By the way, Ayres batted .343 with 17 RBIs for the Blue Devils as a sophomore.

Although he struggled at times in the batter’s box last year, Ayres found himself in the cleanup spot for most of the season and played his usual stellar defense.

Tallmadge finished 17-8 overall and reached regional play for the third consecutive year.

"He does a nice job around the bag," longtime Blue Devils head coach Kenny Linn said. "Last year, we moved him from the seven-hole to the four-hole and he never really got going. We didn’t do him any favors."

Thanks to some off-season work, though, Ayres had the makings of an elite hitter heading into this season. Linn certainly thought so.

"He had a great off-season," the coach said. "He worked really hard on his swing. We were excited about him."

Since he was surrounded by sports figures, Ayres, who also played basketball, was destined to thrive in a competitive atmosphere.

His father Darrell was the Blue Devils head boys basketball coach from 2009 to 2011. His older sister Olivia, a 2017 Tallmadge graduate, was a key contributor to the Blue Devils’ volleyball, basketball and softball teams.

"Sports have always been a big part of my family," Ayres said. "My family members have influenced me a lot by helping me when I need it, but they have never forced me to do anything."

If you’re expecting Ayres to deliver a passionate speech, don’t hold your breath. Ayres is the type of person who prefers to let his bat and glove do most of the talking.

"Andrew is the type of kid who doesn’t have a lot to say," Linn said. "He leads by example. You didn’t have to ask Andrew to play hard. He’s a die-hard baseball kid who loves to play the game and work on his game."

That’s not an exaggeration.

Ayres has been playing baseball since he was 6 years old. He started off as a third baseman before he made the permanent switch to the opposite side of the infield.

Well, maybe permanent is the wrong word. Ayres could possibly return to the hot corner when he heads to College Hill. Or maybe he’ll play somewhere else.

One way or another, a position switch won’t be an issue for Ayres. He just wants to get back on the field as quickly as possible.

"I don’t know if I’m going to play right away or not, but I plan to work as hard as I can to play as much as I can at first base or wherever they need me," Ayres said.

He won’t forget his roots either. Although he never got a chance to experience his senior season with some of his closest friends, Ayres will always have a fondness for a place that considers the grand old game more sacred than most.

Longtime residents affectionately refer to it as "T-Town."

"Playing for Tallmadge was like a family," Ayres said. "Everyone liked everyone on the team and we would do anything for each other."

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, faceto@recordpub.com or @FrankAceto_Gannett.