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U-18 Men's Softball World Cup 2020 - Official Payoff

17-year-old pitcher Jakub Osička gives Czech softball bright future

17-year-old pitcher Jakub Osička gives Czech softball bright future
13/03/2020
Named the best pitcher of the U-18 Softball World Cup, the Czech fireballer was the stats leader across six categories including ERA, strikeouts, wins, innings pitched, complete games and games started.

The Czech Republic made history in Palmerston North, New Zealand earlier this month, earning a bronze medal at the U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup. This first-ever medal for a European nation at this age bracket could be a turning point for an even brighter future for Czech softball.

Right-handed pitcher Jakub Osička was named the best pitcher of the tournament. He led the stats in six categories, including ERA (1.13), strikeouts (84), wins (5), complete games (4), games started (7), and innings pitched (43.1), and capped off a brilliant individual performance with the Czech Republic's podium finish.  

Back in the Czech Republic after the historic campaign, the U-18 Czech Softball National Team was welcomed by a huge crowd at the airport. Osička, the leader of a very solid Czech squad, talked with Pavel Hrdina in an interview published on the Czech Softball website (translation to English by SC United Prague).

“It was great," said Osička. "We definitely didn’t expect this many people to show up. Just think about all the sleep they had to sacrifice to watch our games, it was insane. After we got home to Břeclav, a couple of my teammates and classmates threw me a welcome party. We watched the highlights from the bronze medal games and exchanged stories from the diamond and from watching the broadcasts over here.”

Osička was named to the U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup All-World Team, which recognizes the best players at each position. Osička was named the best pitcher of the tournament.

“I was incredibly happy," Osička said, "the feeling that all that hard work paid off. It was one of my individual long-term goals, so I am happy I managed to meet it. The Argentinian pitcher (Nahuel Saenz) also pitched some great games and he was a decent hitter as well, so there was plenty of competition.”

Asked about their pitching role models, Osička said: “In our club (Locos Breclav), the person who has told me the most is Lukáš Kubát. Talking about international pitchers, I obviously follow Adam Folkard, I was fortunate enough to talk to him in Prague last year. But I try to follow all the top pitchers. At Supercup 2018, I learned a lot from Roman Godoy.” 

“I believe that as a pitcher you shouldn’t try to imitate others down to the very last detail. You need the fundamentals as a foundation onto which you can add bits that suit you most, learn from everybody and always put it all to 100% use. My top pitcher list includes Hikaru Matsuda, Sean Cleary, Adam Folkard and the Argentinian pitching school in general,” said the 17-year-old right-hander.

Throughout the tournament, his team faced a lot of pressure situations, but Osička handled it with mastery: “I must say I surprised myself, even though there were a couple of stressful situations. Speaking for myself, I think I handled them well. The hardest point was the sixth inning of the Bronze Medal Game, where the game-tying run was on second with one out. We finally got lucky at that moment.”

“What helps me most in games is not worrying about the things going on around you – fielding errors, bad calls. I switch off and try to focus solely on the spot that I am supposed to hit. It usually worked. Even Canada loaded the bases in two innings and we always managed to get out. These situations are easier to handle if you are up by at least three runs, the pressure isn’t as hard then,” he added. 

Osicka also recognized the coaching staff for his success in the tournament: “The scouts did a terrific job. I didn’t really worry about it at all, I was told what I needed to know before each pitch. The approach was the same every game – a lot of pitches inside. And then there were details. For instance, we used a lot of riseballs against Guatemala, and even more against Argentina, but no slow pitches.”

Asked about the next steps in his career and the chance to get the call for the senior team, the pitcher takes it easy: “It’s up to the coaches to decide whether I deserve a chance to fight for a spot at Euro. There are currently enough good pitchers on the national team. I am not rushing things, we will see what comes next.”


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