By: Nicole Grazioli '12
Drew Ozanne (DO) finished his sophomore year enjoying personal success in his second season on the Bronco baseball team. Stepping up in his role as designated hitter, Ozanne finished second on the team in batting average at .304. He had a key game-winning RBI single in a 10-inning victory over Bakersfield on April 1. SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB) caught up with Ozanne to discuss his thoughts on the past season, his passion for batting and his summer league play.
SCB: When did you start playing baseball? Did you play any other sports growing up?
DO: The day I came home from the hospital, my dad put a glove in my crib – ever since then I have been playing baseball. Growing up in addition to baseball I also played golf, soccer, basketball, football and tennis.
DO: I learned that the perfect pitch that would happen in high school at bat doesn't happen in college. Pitchers don't make mistakes as often in college.
DO: It is a pretty cool opportunity. Matt and I can relate to each other like no one else can. We know how to help each other out since we have known what both of our strengths and weaknesses have been growing up.
SCB: What did you do personally to prepare for this past 2011 season?
DO: In the off-season, I tried to get stronger mentally and physically. I made sure that I was working out on a weekly schedule in order for me to prepare for the fall and winter.
SCB: What were some of your goals for the season? Were any of these accomplished?
DO: My two main personal goals were to start and make an impact on the team the entire season. I accomplished both of these as I started more than half of the games and I thought that I contributed to the best of my abilities in those starts.
DO: Justin Viele did a great job this season keeping the infield in the game every pitch. Communication is a big factor in an effective defense and he made it possible for the infield to be ready for each pitch.
SCB: Do you prefer batting or playing defense in the field? Why?
DO: I think that most of my teammates would agree with me when I say that I prefer batting. I am a better offensive player than I am a defensive player and I like the pressure that is put on you as a hitter in different situations.
SCB: What did you work on during the season to help you at the plate offensively?
DO: Sometimes when I try to do too much, I get around the ball and ground out to the pull side. I started to work on hitting the inside of the baseball and keeping my hand path close to my body so my barrel can stay in the zone longer – this helped give me a better chance to hit the outside and off speed pitches.
SCB: How did the season change for you during the period of it?
DO: I started the majority of the games as the DH, so my role was to be an offensive force for the team. Therefore, I needed to produce on the offensive side when asked of me early in the year. When I started to play defense, I was still expected to contribute with my bat but also make the routine play. They weren't asking me to make a web gem every game, but just to make the plays that I am supposed to make.
SCB: What has been your favorite game and your toughest game at SCU so far?
DO: My favorite game at SCU was probably the first game of the season at South Carolina. We played great baseball and played them close into the 8th inning. South Carolina was in the College World Series again (winning the title again) and I think that the fact that we played them close the entire weekend was a suspenseful feeling and great moment in this past season. I think that this was also our toughest game because we knew we were going into a stadium of 8,000+ fans rooting for the defending national champions of college baseball.
SCB: What do you want to improve and work on for next year?
DO: I want to continue to build physical strength and speed to help me on the defensive side. Improving my foot quickness will help me get a better first step on defense.
SCB: What are you doing for the summer?
DO: I am currently playing baseball in Alaska for nine games, then playing the duration of the summer in Toledo, OH in the Great Lakes League for the Lake Erie Monarchs.
SCB: Who's your favorite baseball team and why?
DO: The Boston Red Sox are my favorite team. I went to Fenway Park in 2003 with my family and I loved the stadium. The atmosphere there is great - even when the fans have watched their team fail to win a World Series for 80+ seasons, they are still showing up to watch their team play. I like their dedication and want to also be a part of it.
DO: I tried to go whenever I could. I have been to the Giants and the Athletics games and it was interesting to see how they prepare for the season. I like how they all play so loose and confident in their ability.