Olsen sets up things nicely for Hawaii
Rich Olsen has supplied a lot of relief for the Hawaii Rainbows over the last three and a half seasons.
In 54 appearances out of the bullpen the 2002 Iolani graduate has saved seven games, but his primary role has been to set everything up for the closer.
UC Santa Barbara at Hawaii
When: Today 1:05 p.m.; Tomorrow and Tuesday, 6:35 p.m.
Where: Les Murakami Stadium
TV: Tuesday's game only, live, KFVE, Ch. 5
Radio: All games live, KKEA, 1420-AM
Tickets: $7 orange and blue sections; $6 red section; $5 seniors, and $3 students ages 4-18, UH students in the red section
Note: The Rainbows have won seven of their 10 games played against the Gauchos.
"I love the pressure situations with one or two runners on base. I feel more comfortable because you can't mess up at all," said Olsen.
In his last two outings, against Louisiana Tech and Hawaii-Hilo, the right-hander came in to quell threats in the seventh and sixth innings, respectively, by striking out the final batter with his devastating curve.
Where the redshirt junior runs into trouble at times is when he starts an inning. Coach Mike Trapasso has discussed this situation with Olsen several times.
"Coach says I'm too nice a guy," said Olsen. "When I start an inning, there is no pressure and I'm too relaxed. He says I've got to be more aggressive and go right after people."
Trapasso said, "We've seen it before. There is no question he needs to be tougher out there. We need him to do that because he is important to our success.
"Rich is laid-back, the nicest guy you will ever meet, but sometimes that works against him."
Trapasso also said there has been improvement in Olsen's ability to sustain his outings.
"He is our first man out of the pen. That's where he has been good," Trapasso said.
Olsen worked all fall on developing his fastball command so it would be an effective pitch to complement his curve. He also throws a changeup, but rarely, one or two times an outing.
When he entered Iolani, he was a third baseman.
"They asked me to pitch because my dad (Rich) was a pitcher," said Olsen, who is not a Jr., because he and his dad have different middle names.
His father pitched for UH from 1976 to 1978 before enjoying a long pro career with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Hanshin Tigers (Japan) and Grosseto (Italy).
Olsen also played football (center) his first two years at Iolani.
"I decided to concentrate on baseball because I felt that was my best opportunity to go to college. I talked with Pacific (Ore.) and was invited to walk on at USC, but I wanted to play at home," Olsen said.
"I grew up watching the Rainbows. My dad would take me to the games. I got to go in the dugout and meet the players and Coach (Les) Murakami. My dad taught me pretty much all I know about pitching."
There have been injury setbacks during his UH career.
Olsen received a medical redshirt year in 2003 for a stress fracture in his back. The origin of the injury was never determined.
He also has battled a muscle strain in his right arm at times.
At the present, he has therapy on his left knee for a torn meniscus that required arthroscopic surgery in December. He suffered that injury lifting weights (squats) at UH.
"Once you are injured, you can't do anything about it. The best thing is to rest and start strengthening the thing as soon as possible," said Olsen, a communications major.
He would like to follow his father into pro ball, a goal he has had ever since he was little. He has filled out information forms for pro scouts.
"I just have to show them that I can do it on the mound. I just try to do my best all the time. If you don't give 100 percent, you will have something to regret," Olsen said.
On the Rainbows' recent "cruise-control" mode, Olsen said, "We have to play every inning like it's our last. We have the talent."