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
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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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