A million roads, one happy place. Some guys read. Some guys nap. Some guys pray.
Chase Boster Oms.
“It’s helped me envision executing every pitch,” Marshall’s right-handed ace said of his pre-start routine. “Picturing the positions I’m going to be in (during) every game and how I’m going to get out of them. It really helps me just clear my mind, helps me to focus on the upcoming game I’m pitching in.”
The outer cool belies a quest for inner peace: For the last two years or so, Boster’s regimen has included at least 20 minutes with eyes closed in quiet meditation. The 6-3, 220-pound flamethrower isn’t at full-speed until he’s found his — well, his full lotus.
“I kind of just sit in a typical position,” said Boster, whose Thundering Herd baseballers (9-6) take a five-game winning streak into a weekend series with Southern Miss (14-4). “And just meditate.”
The only thing a ballplayer loves more than a hot streak is the thing that got him there in the first place. The meditation bug first bit Boster during a yoga class — stretch the limbs, stretch the mind — toward the end of his sophomore year.
“At the end of my class, we would sit around for 45 minutes and just meditate there,” the pitcher recalled. “And it really kind of relaxed me for the rest of the day, and made me feel better.
“And I said, ‘Why don’t I do that before I pitch?’ I kind of tried it out one time and it worked.”
It got his head right, which was more than half the battle. And that head has rarely led the Virginia native astray: As a junior, Boster was named second-team All-Conference USA after a 7-1 record and a team-best 2.95 ERA — and to the league’s All-Academic team thanks to a 3.37 GPA in chemistry. Whether toeing the rubber or scrolling the periodic table, shortcuts are somebody else’s bag.
“My professors have been extraordinary,” Boster said. “And they’ve been very helpful with me traveling (for baseball) and being able to make up assignments. I mean, there are a lot of bus rides … even though we could have a long weekend, I just try to make time to study and make sure I get all my work done.”
Boster rarely forgets a detail. Or a slight. That no Division I school in Virginia — he grew up a Tech fan — offered up a baseball scholarship still irks the living heck out of him. The same goes for the occasional lapses in poise, lapses in control. Especially control.
“Honestly, I’m just really concerned with throwing strikes with all my pitches,” said Boster, who takes a 1-1 record and a 5.56 ERA through four starts into the Herd’s C-USA opener. “Throwing strikes and limiting the amount of walks I give up per game. That’s the big thing I’m focusing on this year.”
So far, so good: After allowing three free passes over 7 2/3 innings in his first two starts, the righty hasn’t allowed a walk in his last two appearances while fanning eight over 15 innings of work.
“I think I was just kind of overthrowing the ball a little bit the first two weekends,” Boster explained. “I think, this time, I just kind of relaxed and focused on hitting my spots, and it really worked out for me.”
Through counsel with pitching coach Josh Newman, the Herd senior realized he might’ve been overthinking things a little bit, too. The key was getting back to basics: Ice in the veins, chill between the ears.
“We just kind of tried to take the same success that we had last year,” the hurler said, “and kind of build from it.”
The foundation feels stronger than ever. Unlike last spring, which was interrupted by a nagging tendonitis, Boster says he’s been throwing without pain, free and easy. No hiccups. No worries.
“The best that I’ve (felt) in college,” he said.
Even better than the summer before his stellar junior year, when he tore up the wood-bat Prospect League, allowing only 28 hits over 60 1/3 innings while posting a miniscule 0.74 ERA. While that (justifiably) got the pro scouts’ attention, Boster was curiously passed over during the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft.
“I really don’t even know why,” he said. “At the same time, I didn’t say anything (about money). I just really listened to everything and I kind of waited there. It just didn’t happen.
“I wasn’t distraught. I’ve got my senior year. I’ve got my boys here. So I was excited about going back. It really didn’t faze me that much.”
One more run. One more ride. Meditate on that.