Florence’s Ian Ostberg remains levelheaded amid tough summer

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  • Ian Ostberg, of Florence, who plays for the Ocean State Waves, heads to the field in the first inning against the Valley Blue Sox, Thursday, at Mackenzie Stadium in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Colin Donnelly, of the Valley Blue Sox, pitches to the Ocean State Waves during the first game of a double header Thursday, July 25, 2019 at Mackenzie Stadium in Holyoke. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • UMass basketball coach Matt McCall throws the first pitch to start the second game of a double header between the Valley Blue Sox and the Ocean State Waves, Thursday, July 25, 2019 at Mackenzie Stadium in Holyoke. It was UMass Athletics Night. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Isaac Alexander, left, of the Valley Blue Sox, waits for the throw as Elijah Dunham, of the Ocean State Waves, begins a slide into second on a steal during the first game of a double header Thursday, July 25, 2019 at Mackenzie Stadium in Holyoke. He was safe. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ian Ostberg, of Florence, who plays for the Ocean State Waves, watches his hit in the first inning against the Valley Blue Sox, Thursday at Mackenzie Stadium in Holyoke. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Richard Constantine, left, of the Valley Blue Sox, eyes a throw to first as Xavier Vargas, of the Ocean State Waves, logs a single during the first game of a double header Thursday, July 25, 2019 at Mackenzie Stadium in Holyoke. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ian Ostberg, of Florence, who plays for the Ocean State Waves, heads to the dugout at the end of the first inning against the Valley Blue Sox, Thursday, July 25, 2019 at Mackenzie Stadium in Holyoke. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ian Ostberg, of Florence, who plays for the Ocean State Waves, warms up before batting in the fourth inning against the Valley Blue Sox, Thursday, July 25, 2019 at Mackenzie Stadium in Holyoke. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ian Ostberg, of Florence, who plays for the Ocean State Waves, watches his single against the Valley Blue Sox, Thursday, July 25, 2019 at Mackenzie Stadium in Holyoke. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ian Ostberg, of Florence, who plays for the Ocean State Waves, heads to the field in the first inning against the Valley Blue Sox, Thursday, July 25, 2019 at Mackenzie Stadium in Holyoke. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/25/2019 11:20:36 PM

HOLYOKE — Ian Ostberg would be among the first to say baseball has a way of keeping players even-keeled.

A hot streak can end at any moment and be immediately followed by a prolonged slump. A cold drought could just as easily be succeeded by a stretch of remarkable hitting. No matter the past, the future is still an unknown when it comes to baseball.

“Baseball is a very humbling game,” the Florence native said Thursday after the Ocean State Waves’ sweep of a doubleheader from the Valley Blue Sox at Mackenzie Stadium. “Wood bats, good pitching, if you find yourself struggling, it’s tough to make the mental adjustment, but it’s all about persevering, being tough and doing whatever you need to do to help the team win whether you’re hot or not.”

Ostberg has learned all of this firsthand over the past five months. The infielder batted .321 over 57 games during his sophomore season at Quinnipiac, helping the Bobcats advance to the NCAA Regionals. He joined the Waves of the New England College Baseball League this summer, but has struggled at the plate, entering Thursday’s doubleheader with a .208 batting average in 22 appearances for Ocean State.

Some of that can be chalked up to bad luck like the line drive he hit in his first at-bat of the second game Thursday that was snared by a leaping Matthew Richardson. But Ostberg said those types of plate appearances are helpful to overcoming a slump and finding ways to contribute.

“I’m just trying to put the ball in play, stay behind it and have competitive at-bats,” said Ostberg, who scored the winning run in the first game of the doubleheader as a pinch runner. “You can have the worst swing in the world, you can still get hits if you just put the bat out on the ball and compete.”

That strategy has paid off for Ostberg this summer as he has found different ways to reach base and put pressure on the defense. He has only registered eight strikeouts this season and has an on-base percentage of .365 thanks to 11 walks. But he also is able to use his speed to reach base as evidenced by his second plate appearance of the game when Richardson hurried himself and muffed a routine groundball to allow Ostberg to reach safely.

Although his contact is not finding holes right now, Ostberg said he is continuing to tinker with his swing before games. But once the game starts, he’s focused on going to battle and finding ways to help his team win.

“We’ve got a lot of good coaches here, so pregame I’ll be thinking about my swing, making some adjustments,” Ostberg said. “But once the lights come on, you’re out here and you’re just a warrior in the box and not thinking about anything other than hitting the ball.”

Perhaps one reason for Ostberg’s poorer stats this summer is the fatigue that he is feeling after a long year at Quinnipiac. Most college players have a week or two of break between the end of their collegiate seasons and the beginning of the summer league schedule. That was not the case for Ostberg, who played his final game for the Bobcats on June 2 – a loss to Campbell in the NCAA Regionals – and was playing for the Waves by June 8.

There was a little break to deal with a minor injury he said that affected him at the regional, but other than that, there has been no rest for the 20-year-old. He said although this grind has taken a toll on him, he also wants to make the most of the time he has left in his baseball career and cherish the moments he has to play the game competitively.

“It’s tough, but that’s what you sign up for,” Ostberg said. “You can only do this for so long, you’ve got to appreciate every moment out there. Obviously, I didn’t get much of a break coming from (Quinnipiac) to here, but you’ve just got to appreciate it. It’s tiring, it’s exhausting, it’s cruel, but at the end of the day, we’re here because we love baseball so we need to appreciate it and want to be on the field as much as possible.”

The Waves are currently battling for the final playoff spot in the NECBL’s South Division, moving to within two games of Danbury for that berth with eight contests remaining. Once the season ends, though, Ostberg will finally have time to heal and prepare for his junior year at Quinnipiac.

Regardless of how he finishes the summer at the plate, Ostberg said he isn’t worried about how it will affect him moving forward. It goes back to his belief that baseball is a sport of momentum and a player can’t let those swings of momentum affect them.

“Baseball is such a streaky game, one good season doesn’t define you and one bad season doesn’t define you,” Ostberg said. “I just want to keep playing hard, keep winning games, keep playing my game and it’ll all work out, I’m not too worried. This is the final push and then we’ll get back, rest, get my body right then I’ll get back to the cage and figure some stuff out.”




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