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Ozbalt switches positions

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    OZBOLT

A change in position has resulted in more playing time for Cody Ozbolt.

The Iola High School graduate entered the Southwestern Christian University baseball program as a corner infielder.

But the freshman has found a role as a middle relief pitcher.

“He has actually been a quality surprise for us,” Southwestern Christian head coach Joe Blackwell said. “He was coming in as a position player. We didn’t even realize he could pitch.”

“He has a very repeatable delivery,” he said. “He’s got good mechanics. He’s somebody we can really work with.”

Through 24 games (15-9), the 6-foot-2 Ozbolt pitched in six. The right-hander had one save and a 2.84 earned run average.

He has embraced his new position. “I know this is my best opportunity right now,” he said.

As a reliever, he has entered games to start an inning, while others he has entered with men on base. “There’s always a little bit of pressure,” he said, noting that he tries not to think too much about inherited baserunners. “I’m playing the game I’ve played my whole life.”

Though considered a middle reliever, Ozbolt has appeared in late-inning relief multiple times and likely will have a future as a closer, according to Blackwell. He allowed five hits and one earned run in throwing the final two innings during a win over Ran dall. He struck out four and did not factor in the decision.

He has tweaked his delivery to be more effective. “My arm would be a little bit slower than my body. I wasn’t getting as much velocity as I could,” he said.

His velocity has been in the low 80s, Blackwell said, adding, “I think he can top out in the low 90s.”

Ozbolt throws the twoand four-seam fastballs, curveball and breaking ball, with the curveball his primary secondary pitch, the coach said.

Send updates about area athletes to Barbara Boxleitner at jdanddoc@gmail.com.