Zach Olson is settling in nicely with the Red Deer Riggers.
Fresh off a strong season at the Prairie Baseball Academy in Lethbridge, Olson looks like he belongs with the big boys in the Red Deer lineup.
Olson had two hits Tuesday in the Riggers first win of the Sunburst Baseball League season, a 10-0 victory at Great Chief Park over the St. Albert Tigers.
The Red Deer product had an RBI double in the first, a walk and RBI triple in the sixth.
“It’s a fantastic experience. I love it. College prepared me for this. They got me facing good stuff,” said the 20-year-old, who also made running catch in right field late in the game.
“Here, you’re facing men who know how to throw and know how to locate. College prepared me for this. This is just going to be a fantastic experience for me.”
That experience came in the Canadian College Baseball Conference, where the six-foot-four, 210-pound right fielder excelled in his first season.
He had a .347 batting average in 24 regular season games, then hit at a .385 clip in the CCBC Championships late in the year. Through the regular season campaign, he had five home runs, 22 RBI and 34 hits in 98 at-bats.
Olson admits he wasn’t sure he could play at the college level, but the coaching staff in Lethbridge helped him settle in and is a huge part of where he is today as a player.
“There’s nothing like a good college experience. College baseball is the best thing ever. I don’t think I was (ready) to be honest,” he said.
“The coaches down there helped me a lot. They did extra work with me… they just told me to be more aggressive. I’d typically take the first pitch. They would tell me to be aggressive and I would swing at the first pitch I started hitting it pretty well.”
Another coach that helped Olson along the way was his minor baseball coach Dwayne Lalor. Lalor, a long time Rigger player and coach, was the person who originally introduced Olson to Senior AAA baseball.
“I watched a few of his games while he was still playing. The odd time I would come out when I wasn’t playing baseball somewhere else,” Olson added.
Dominant night on the mound
The Riggers got a strong night on the hill from veteran Josh Edwards. The lefty threw five innings, allowed no runs on five hits and struck out three. He threw just 54 pitches before Davin Gulbransen entered the game for Red Deer.
On the other side, St. Albert starter Craig Tomas struggled, going just two and a third innings. He gave up seven runs on five hits and walked five. In the third inning, he walked three and hit two batters leading to four Riggers runs.
Red Deer also got on the board early, putting up five runs in the first inning.
Kevin Curran had an RBI single for the Riggers in the sixth to end the game early.
The Riggers will take on the Edmonton Confederation Park Cubs at home on June 4.