ALBANY – After being a reliever to start his varsity career as a junior, Shane Olmscheid is enjoying being a starter this season for the Albany baseball team.
Olmscheid is having a breakout season for the Huskies with a 4-1 record and a 1.56 ERA in five starts. The senior’s only loss came Tuesday in a 1-0, hard-luck loss to Milaca where he gave up one unearned run on three hits in a complete-game effort.
Olmscheid has struck out 28 and walked nine in 31 innings this spring.
“I didn’t mind being a reliever last year,” Olmscheid said. “I’ll do anything to help the team. I would rather start and be in control the whole game. I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get ready for this season. I came in a lot during the mornings in the winter to get my arm in shape.”
Olmscheid was at his best last Monday at Becker when he threw a two-hit shutout at the Bulldogs. He struck out eight and didn’t walk anybody in a complete game. He only allowed singles in the third and fifth innings.
“He’s been really solid for us,” Albany head coach Al Amdahl said. “He threw a couple of relief appearances to start the year because we got started slowly with our schedule. He didn’t start until the third week.
“He spots his fastball and mixes in his other pitches. He’s not overpowering. He works both sides of the plate quickly. That’s one thing we like to have our pitchers do. Our motto is ‘toe and go.’ “
For that game against Becker, and for his strong season, Olmscheid has been named the Times’ Prep Athlete of the Week.
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Olmscheid, who has grown out a full beard this season to provide some intimidation on the mound, said his performance at Becker was the first time he’s ever thrown a shutout.
His fastball, change-up and curveball were all working against the Bulldogs. His change-up has been particularly sharp this season.
“I knew I had some great defense going behind me at Becker. I got a lot of first-pitch strikes and really attacked their hitters,” Olmscheid said. “It was cold out there and some of their hitters might not have been ready. I was pretty excited to get my first shutout.”
The Huskies are 8-6 in the Granite Ridge Conference this season and 11-7 overall. Albany was ranked No. 9 in last week’s Class 2A state poll.
But the Huskies have gone up against some tough competition, including Class 2A No. 1 St. Cloud Cathedral and Rocori. The Crusaders have defeated Albany twice, and Rocori beat the Huskies 11-9 on May 1.
Both teams are in Section 6-2A with Albany. Competing for the section title won’t be easy.
“Our conference and section is really difficult, but we like the challenge,” Olmscheid said. “We have the talent to make a run in the playoffs. Everybody has to be focused. I think we can compete with Rocori and Cathedral. We expect to do that.
“Our goal is the state tournament. We’ve really competed against Cathedral both times we played them. Doing that against the No. 1 team in the state is huge.”
Amdahl credits Olmscheid and the Huskies’ seniors for being the backbone of the team this season.
“We have five senior pitchers and we’ve handed them the baton,” Amdahl said. “Shane threw great relief innings for us last year and he had a great summer with the Legion team. I thought he would be a great starter this year.
“Shane’s a good kid and you’ll have a tough time finding a better teammate. He’s one of the most vocal guys in the dugout and he’s just a good baseball guy.”
Olmscheid is hoping to pitch for St. Cloud Technical & Community College next season. He’ll also play for the St. Martin amateur team this summer.
“I’m waiting to see what the future holds,” Olmscheid said. “I know I want to get a mechanical engineering degree and that I’m going to SCTCC. I’ve always focused on pitching and I’ll try and keep it going as long as I can.”
Follow Andy Rennecke on Twitter @AndyRennecke. Contact him at 255-8735.