Reporting Shane Kitzman
How in the world does a college rookie hit .462 at the plate — nearly 50 points above his closest conference competitor?
Not even the man who posted the gaudy Ted Williams-esque figures can quite figure it out.
However, Carleton’s fresh faced first-year Hayden Tsutsui does offer two possible explanations as to how he jumped from batting .340 his senior year at Chatsworth in Northridge, Calif., to being named D3baseball.com’s National Rookie of the Year this spring.
1. He finally implemented his high school coach Tom Meusborn’s techniques.
“He taught me to be mentally tough – to not get caught on the highs or lows too much, and to focus on the moment instead,” the speedy centerfielder said. “He also emphasized my top hand because I used to have a habit of dropping it and hitting too many foul balls.”
2. Spiritual pre-game and post-game podcasted sermons.
“It’s an app on my iPhone, ‘Grace to You’ by John MacArthur and it gives me an edge,” he said. “It reminds me that he’s there.”
The Cali transplant picked Carleton because he wanted to experience other realms of the US, not just the LA suburbs … and the small town of Northfield, Minn., has never been confused with Hollywood.
“I think Northfield has shown me a lot of things I would have never seen if I stayed in California,” he said. “I wanted to focus on more important things, like God, and he has been gracious to me this entire time.”
In the two-college town (arch-rival St. Olaf’s located on the other side of the Cannon River) Tsutsui found a home, gushing about the tight-knit community Carleton sports.
And those fast friendships were put to the test quickly for the West Coast kid.
Yes, on the field this past season was near perfect for the 19-year-old — he was named All-MIAC, led the league in hits and total bases, and was tabbed All-Midwest Region First-Team.
But off the field, it wasn’t as easy, losing his beloved aunt to cancer.
“She was always there for me … I asked God things like ‘Why did she have to go,’ and ‘Why her?’” Tsutsui recalled. “And I can’t articulate it, but God answered and it has helped me through.”
In the classroom, he’s all about economics. But that hasn’t kept the No. 3-hole hitter from dreaming of a career possibly spent in the big leagues.
“My ultimate dream is to play Major League Baseball,” he said. “I won’t let the odds of making it get to me. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant it to be.”