CSU San Marcos Series

Seeing my name up on the list to travel after a rough UCSD series at the plate was a boost of confidence for me. Not only did that tell me that the coaches believed that I can bounce back from a tough couple of games, but that meant more opportunities to redeem myself against a team that was having a down year. This series meant a lot to our team because if we were to have lost or split the series (2-2) then we would have been in 5th place, but instead we won 3 out of 4 games and are tied for second place.

The first game was a tough one. The coaches gave another player a chance to start in left field since he wasn’t able to play the series before. San Marcos came out swinging and ended up beating us the first game of the series 8-6. After losing the first game of a series, it is always hard to take 3 in a row from a team because they have all the momentum at that point. But for us, it was crucial that we won as I stated before. The first game of the Saturday double header was a tight game until the 7th, when I started off a 5 run rally with a 0 out 2 rbi double down the third base line. From there, we walked twice and then hit a bases clearing double. At that point it was commanding 8-5 lead with our stellar bullpen pitchers yet to come. We tacked on 3 more after they put up a 2 spot in the bottom of the inning. Chico took the win in the first game.

The second game of the double header was very similar to the first game. Tight in the beginning but in the 4th, I got another 2 rbi single into right in the second, then another single up the middle later in the game. We tacked on 6 runs in the span of 4 innings to go up 2-1 in the series and 2-0 on the day. Chico took the final day and absolutely destroyed San Marcos 7-2. Cats took the series and moved up to 2nd place with 2 series to go. It was a huge series that we took advantage of and set ourself up to have a strong finish to the end of the year.

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Getting Recruited to Chico

This post will be taking us back to the recruitment process in high school and how I got to Chico:

In the beginning of my senior year of high school, I was taking all kinds of recruiting trips to different colleges that I was interested in playing baseball for: USD, UCSB, UNR, Oregon, and a handful of others. As you cn see, Chico was not one of the schools that was high on my list. They weren’t on there because I didn’t like the school, but rather because I hadn’t explored the idea of playing here. After narrowing my schools down to UCSB and USD (mainly because they were the schools showing most interest), USD came to a game of mine in the middle of the season and really liked what they saw. At the same time, Chico reached out to me saying the same things as USD. I decided that I would go to both of their prospect camps near the end of my season for both of the schools to check me out and see what I thought of the campuses.

When I came to Chico to play, I was taken around town to see what it was like. I fell in love immediately. Not only was everyone so friendly, but the coaches seemed very interested in making the players the best they could be. Plus, all the guys on the team working the camp were super friendly. I appreciated all of the hospitality and way they treated the recruits.

Then came there prospect camp. The first ball that was pitched of the game was hit slightly up the middle so I made a back handed play and I did, throwing the runner out at first. Right after the play was made, I glanced over to the coaches who were posted 10 feet behind the catcher with a screen in front and saw all 3 writing something down.My first plate appearance was nerve-racking. I knew I was getting looked at to preform as one of the best on the field, so I tried too hard to be just that. I ended up flying out to shallow center field and jogged back to the dugout frustrated. I had a talk with myself after and basically just told myself to relax and to play as hard as I can. The rest will take care of itself, and that it did. My next at bat I faced another kid who was their top pitching prospect at the camp; a left handed pitcher throwing 87 MPH. I jumped on the first pitch he threw me. A fastball down the middle, and I made him pay. I crushed this ball about 40 feet over the 330 foot wall in left field and promptly jogged around the bases with a ton of confidence, knowing I did just what I needed to do.

After the camp was over, the head coach pulled me aside and told me that they would call me soon with an offer to play at Chico and I told him that I would commit right away. It was a perfect situation for me and I capitalized on an opportunity. Little did I know that I would be playing my first year and contributing to the team.

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Home Run Swing

The Catch

Fast forward to the CSULA series. We finally get down to LA after a 9 hour bus ride. First game I wasn’t in the line up because the other left fielder had a good week of practice, but had a rough first game so they put me in for the second and third games. The second and third games during a weekend series are a double header on Saturday’s: the first game is 9 innings and the second is a 7 inning game.

We won the first game of the double header by a decent amount, but the second game is always the toughest to stay focused in. Luckily for me, I had a good day at the plate both games so it helped me stay engaged in the games. The second game was much closer than the first, however. The score was 3-1 in the last inning. Runner on first base with no outs. A right handed hitter was up who only hit the ball to right field all series up to this point, so I was shifted more towards the left-center field gap. First pitch he sees, he turns on it DEEP into straight away left field. I immediately turned and ran angling to my right.  I sprinted for 7 steps towards the corner and took a leap with my glove flipped over to make a jumping backhanded grab. At the apex of my jump, I felt the ball land perfectly in the pocket of my glove. That catch completely turned the momentum of the inning around because if I don’t catch it, LA has the tying run on second base at least with no outs. Yet again, proving how I can preform under pressure situations.

Longest Game in Program History

The most playing time in the season through 4 series for me came in Monterey, one of the powerhouse schools in our conference. My name was called in the ninth inning, yet again, for a pinch hit opportunity. It was a tied game in the top of the 9th inning and we had runners on first and second with 2 outs. The conditions were brutal down in Monterey. The ocean fog had blown all the way on the field, with any ball in the air being impossible to see. So naturally, that was my thought process coming to the plate: hit the ball in the air. Unfortunately for me, the left fielder was able to track down the ball and we weren’t able to score.

Our coach decided to leave me in the game for the first time after a pinch hit to play defense in left. Trusting a freshman was a big move at the time because this program is run by the junior college transfer player. In the top of the 13th inning, the game was still tied. There were runners on first and second with one out. The winning run on second base. A ball was smoked into left field right at me, but sinking towards the grass. I took four hard steps in and went into a full extension dive to save the game. Our dugout exploded with excitement knowing that we still had life.

Fast forward to the 15th inning, I got my second chance with the go ahead run on third base with 2 outs. Game was still tied. I worked my way to a 3 ball, 2 strike count. The tall left-handed pitcher came set and delivered: a change up low and away. This, however, was the exact pitch I was hoping he would throw. I waited back and barreled the ball up the middle and into center field, scoring the go ahead run. Again, the whole dugout exploding with life and confidence now having the lead in this marathon game. I ended up coming around to score giving us a 2 run lead. Now the bottom of the 15th was a whole different “ballgame”, if you will. Our 6th pitcher of the game got the first out, walked the next batter, and got the third batter of the inning to hit the ball right to the shortstop. He hesitated to throw the ball as our second baseman was late to the base to start the double play, forcing the throw wide right allowing both runners to advance. The following 3 batters all got hits, winning the game for Monterey. The result was very demoralizing for the team; however, I proved to the coaches that I am able to preform under pressure.

Travel to Stanislaus

There it was. The list for who is traveling and who is staying. Coach Taylor had told us prior to practice that the list would be posted after we got done cleaning the field. Taylor also went on to explain the rules and regulations of when we travel, what the appropriate way to act while away. Finally, he went over the format of the list (being pitchers listed first, next would be infielders, and finally outfielders). Being an outfielder, I knew my name would be later on the list. When we got to the clubhouse after our practice, the list was up on the door that we leave from. I tried to play it cool and not rush to it and make me look like an eager freshman, even though on the inside I clearly was.

I changed as quickly as possible, but took a slow walk to look at the list casually. I went down the list and couldn’t find my name. Out of the 28 people traveling to Stanislaus State, I finally found my name next to the last number. The only freshman traveling. My teammates gave me a pat on the back and some “congrats man” but I knew I needed to prove myself every opportunity I had so that my name would stay on the list.

Our series was cut short due to weather, but I only had one at bat in 2 games and got an infield single to lead off the ninth when we were down by a run. I knew that was the beginning of something good for me…

T's 1st Collegiate Away Game

First College Start

There it was. My name put up on the line-up sheet for the first time in my college career. I was so excited that I could feel my heart pounding out of my chest. It was the second game of a double header on the second day of action for the weekend. The pitching coach, Andy Burschinger, came up to me as I was sitting in the clubhouse and uttered the words “you’re starting in left” to me under his breath so only I could hear.

When the game started, I was so nervous that I was throwing the ball all over the place in warm ups, just trying to lock in. My first at bat of the start was a laser to the third baseman. Great contact, but just right at him. I was just a little too anxious and swung at a ball down in the zone around my knees. Dang, still hitless as a Wildcat. While in left, I had two easy pop flies hit my way and I handled them perfectly. Finally it was my turn to hit again in the fourth inning. I stepped into the batters box, determined to get my first hit. There was a runner on second base with no outs and my job was to move him to third by hitting the ball either up the middle or to the right side of the field (second base and over). I was down to a 1 ball, 2 strike count when the pitcher left a ball over the middle of the plate. I jumped on the pitch and drilled it up the middle. My first thought was it was going to be a single and an RBI but that was not the case. The second baseman dove and barely touched it with his glove, sending it into center but not far enough for the runner to score. Still, my first college hit. I can barely remember what happened next because I was so happy, but from what I can piece together is that I got to second but did not score. I had another at bat in that game and ended up walking on a full count. This made me 1-2 on the day. Great first start.

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First at bat of the night

How to Have the Perfect Baseball Swing

 

How to Have the Perfect Baseball Swing

This piece is about how to have the perfect baseball swing. An outline of how to make your swing the best will be laid out by a step by step process. The steps outlined today will be the setup, load, contact point, extension, and finish. Within these steps, we will discuss more specifics of your hand placement, foot placement, and where your weight should be.

Step 1: First step to a good baseball swing is the setup. This means how you are positioned when stepping up to the plate. The best way to do this, is whatever is comfortable to you, but what is the most important is that your feet should be fairly even with each other pointing towards the pitcher. Having your feet shoulder width apart is most important to start out. Your hands should be held around your ear over your back shoulder with the bat tilted slightly backwards. This helps with balance and creating power within the next step. (See picture below)

Step 2: The load is where all the power in the swing is created and is also the most complicated step. What the “load” includes is the shifting of weight into your back leg. This step is often compared to stretching a rubber band before releasing it. What it literally looks like is someone shifting their weight back by “striding”. Here is a video that outlines the importance of the stride and how to accurately accomplish it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1mV81xI1cs .

Step 3: The contact point is where the ball meets the bat. When you swing at the ball, your hands should be positioned as “palm up, palm down” when the ball meets the bat. This creates backspin of the ball, which keeps it in the air longer/flies farther. The back leg should be rotated which releases your hips towards the ball, which in turn creates power. (See picture below)

Step 4: Extension after contact point is what gives the ball it’s flight in the air after leaving your bat. What extension is in a nutshell is the straightening of your arms and pulling the barrel of the bath through the “hitting zone”. This is important because you don’t want the ball to go too far up or too far down. The ideal path of the ball would be on a line, going slightly up. Extension is the release of power that was created in step 2. The ideal extension will end up in the end of the bat pointing at the pitcher. (See picture below)

Step 5: The final step is the finish of your swing. The finish is really just finishing your swing. There is no real form to a good finish, other than making sure your hands and bat finish over your front shoulder and your back foot totally rotated. Ultimately, it’s up to the batter how they want to finish because it really is just how they do it naturally. (See picture below)

T's 1st Collegiate Away Game
Step 1
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Step 3
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Step 4

 

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Step 5

First Experience in College Baseball

The thought of my first collegiate baseball game gave me a lot of butterflies. I talked to returners such as Cameron Santos, Dan Beavers, and Casey Costello about how it was when they broke into their first game and how they dealt with the pressures of being an athlete at this level. Cam gave the best advice to me, “Stay mentally focused and be ready for your opportunity”. As a freshman, I know that this year I will be more of a “roll guy” in terms of the coach using me in certain situations in which they need me. My roll on this Chico State team, as I came to find out, is to bring energy on the bench for the guys who are playing and when my name is called, to try and execute to the best of my ability to help the team.

Evidently, my name was called in the second game of the season for a pinch hitting at bat. My heart was pounding. My mind was racing. The adrenaline was coursing through my veins. The simple phrase of “Olson, swing a bat and get loose” from our head coach Dave Taylor gave me goose bumps. I promptly jogged down to the bullpen to swing a bat. Not long after I got down to the bullpen, I got the nod to head to the plate for my first college at bat. I did my pre-pitch ritual of touching both sides of the plate, tapped my cross and tapped my helmet… and I was ready. A runner was on second base with one out.

The first pitch came in as a ball, high and tight. I worked a 6 pitch at bat, working a full count of 3 balls and 2 strikes. Thinking about an earlier strike called high, I saw a high fastball coming in and took a mighty hack at it, but swung right through it. Damn. Strike three wasn’t even touched. Even so, I held my head high knowing I had a good at bat in my first plate appearance. As I walked back to the dugout, my teammates were excited and gave me positive feedback on how to deal with such calls next time. We went on to win the series (2 games to 1). Off on the right foot on a long season to come. I can tell this will be a special season for the Chico State Baseball Team.

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