Hard Work, Humility Behind Olsen’s Success
10 months ago Andrew Luberda 0
Florence baseball two-way star Mat Olsen has combined hard work and humility to develop into the ace of the Gophers’ pitching staff in addition to being one of the team’s most dangerous hitters.
In the final year of his Gophers’ four-year varsity career, the right-handed throwing Olsen owns a team-leading 0.78 ERA with 16 hits allowed and 98 strikeouts in 44-and-two-thirds innings pitched. In half of his 12 appearances this year, the Central Arizona College commit has not allowed a hit, including a seven-inning no-hitter against Benjamin Franklin on Apr. 12. In five other appearances, Olsen allowed three hits or fewer.
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Olsen, who was a 3A All-Conference First-Team selection as a junior, is among the Gophers’ leaders in five offensive categories as well, including a .400 batting average (3rd), 28 hits (2nd), six doubles (3rd), four triples (1st), and two homeruns (T-2nd). His 12 RBI as the leadoff hitter are tied for fourth best on the team.
“I play a lot,” the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Olsen answered when asked to attribute his success. “It’s all the hard work in the weight room and playing (and) pitching is showing now.”
In his response, Olsen hardly mentioned his ability as a hitter, which is nearly equal to his pitching talent. Might be a two-way player for the Vaqueros?
“We haven’t talked about it much,” Olsen responded. “I’d like to be, but I’m ready to take on whatever they ask me to do over there.”
According to Gophers’ head coach, J.T. Neal, Olsen is a “field rat” – the first to arrive and the last to leave. That type of behavior is setting an example for the younger players on the team.
“To (see) Mat still have that commitment and dedication to practice, in addition the work ethic he has is huge,” Neal told CountyLinePreps.com.
Neal said the Vaqueros are getting “a true hard-nose player” in Olsen and acknowledged the development of his best player started at home.
“His mom has done a great job with him,” Neal said. “Mat doesn’t think he’s better than the next person. He knows he has to work harder to be as good as the next person, and that starts at home. His parents have done a good job with that.
“I attribute much of his success to his homelife, which makes it easier on us as coaches.”
Olsen said his experience as a player in the Gophers’ program will provide benefits for the rest of his life.
“It’s been great,” the Gophers’ Player-of-the-Year candidate said. “They always hold me accountable here. It’s not one of those things where I can get away with certain (stuff) or they give me any leeway or anything like that.
“It shows me to be good person and (not) think I’m above anyone else.”
When Olsen isn’t studying or competing on the diamond, baseball and girlfriend Mikayla Flores – and not in that order – occupy his time.
“I hangout with my girlfriend quite a bit,” said Olsen. “I always have MLB Network on at home, so it’s always revolving around baseball.”
Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw is his favorite player to watch, but he’s always paying attention to other pitchers too.
“I like to pick apart what they’re doing,” Olsen said. “I like to learn from everything I watch.”
The younger Gophers’ players would be wise to watch Olsen and learn.