Hinsdale Central’s Ben Oosterbaan slowly strolled to the plate in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s game.
Since committing to Michigan in late June, Oosterbaan is a must-see player in the Chicago area.
At 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds, Oosterbaan presented an imposing figure to contend with at that moment, especially with the bases loaded and no outs.
Oosterbaan was in his sweet zone, coming off two hard-hit singles in his first two at-bats to set the tone in the first game of a three-game series against West Suburban Silver Conference rival Lyons.
Oosterbaan missed a chance to add to his growing rep, hitting a sacrifice fly to right field to kick-start a two-run inning in a 10-3 win over Lyons. As Hinsdale Central builds toward a possible state tournament run, Oosterbaan is a key figure to watch. After losing his freshman season because of the pandemic, Oosterbaan’s first season on the varsity was a smashing success, though his youth allowed him to stay in the background on a team with Lucas Montesantos, Luke Jurack, Brian Daker and Nick Mulvihill.
Ten games into his junior season, Oosterbaan is ready for the spotlight. He added 25 pounds, which has helped all aspects of his game – fielding, throwing, hitting and pitching. He notched a 5-1 record with a 2.28 ERA to go with 37 strikeouts in 30 innings last season and his pitching was instrumental in helping the Red Devils in the playoffs last year.
“I’ve improved my hitting a lot since last year, just from getting stronger and being able to swing a bit harder,” Oosterbaan said. “It’s way different this year, and way easier on my arm. Last year, every day I pitched, I would be super sore, but now my arm feels a lot better because of the strength around it. I’ve also improved on being more vocal and being a team leader.”
Oosterbaan said he’s experienced another positive to being an upperclassmen this spring.
“It’s nice being a junior and not the guy who gets the jokes played on him,” he said, smiling.
Montesantos, the 2021 West Suburban Silver Pitcher of the Year, is one of the senior leaders on the Red Devils. He’s not lost a varsity game over the last year and a half and is headed to play at University of Illinois-Springfield next season.
Montesantos said Oosterbaan’s potential is unlimited.
“[Ben] has a super bright future,” he said. “He’s going to go places.”
Hinsdale Central catcher Charlie Bergin agreed. “He’s a baller and he can chuck it. He’s a horse.”
Douglas stepping up for Lyons
Lyons junior Frederick Ragsdale III is rapidly becoming a player to watch this season. The left-handed leadoff hitter slapped two singles in Tuesday’s loss to Hinsdale Central. His compact build and speed project well to being a quality college player.
Ragsdale committed to Kent State, but remains somewhat of a mystery figure after playing on the lower level at the start of last season.
“He’s been a good leadoff hitter for us,” Lyons coach Kevin Diete said. “He’s having a very good year, getting on base almost half the time. He has almost a .500 on-base percentage and hitting somewhere around .400 right now, which is very good. We need a quick guy like him on the bases. Then we can run him and score more runs.”
Montella leading Trojans
Timothy Christian had its four-game winning streak snapped in a 4-3 loss to Chicago Christian on Tuesday. The Trojans (6-6) have recovered from a rough 1-4 start in which they suffered a one-run loss to Montini, a 4-2 defeat to Fenwick and were outscored 17-9 by two out-of-area teams during spring break in South Carolina.
Junior Evan Montella is leading the Trojans in hitting, batting .300 with nine hits, two RBIs and eight runs scored. Senior Jacob Friend tossed a complete game one-hitter with six strikeouts against IC Catholic Prep on April 11. Friend’s strong start is a plus for the Trojans, forming a solid one-two combination with Donald Tober.