Scott Holzwasser’s first attempt at a senior spring may have been cut short, but he still kept up the heat throughout the summer.
Northeastern’s starting second baseman spent his summer on the Rhode Island coast, hitting .460 over the newly formed 17-game Newport Collegiate Baseball League, or NCBL, season and adding an MVP award as the cherry on top.
Now, after getting an extra year of eligibility as a senior and a second chance at his final year with the Huskies, the leadoff man has hit the ground running as Northeastern returned to practice this past week.
The News spoke with Holzwasser about the end of the spring season, his summer of success and his reaction to getting back out onto Friedman Diamond.
The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
The Huntington News: Back in the spring, can you take me through those moments when you found out the season was canceled? How did you react?
Scott Holzwasser: The day we found out was after we played Hartford. After the game, we went in the locker room and saw the news all over Twitter and through friends. We realized it was going to come to us in the CAA, so obviously we were all really upset because we felt like our team was doing something pretty special. It wasn’t soon after that that we found out the seniors could actually come back for another year of eligibility, so that time of being really upset sort of subsided and we just started focusing on next year. I was excited for another summer of baseball.
HN: After not being able to finish out the spring season, what was it like to be able to play the summer year in the NCBL, especially since that was a new league this year?
Holzwasser: That was awesome. So originally, I was supposed to play in the NECBL [New England Collegiate Baseball League] in Newport for the Gulls. But that league got cancelled, so at that moment I thought summer baseball wasn’t going to be an option for me. But luckily, one of the guys that works for the Gulls created the Newport League, and he invited me and asked if I would get Spencer Smith, our shortstop at Northeastern, to come to the league as well, so I got Spencer. I mean, it was a weekend league in Newport, so it was pretty fun to be playing baseball in some nice weather.
HN: What was the environment of the league like? With all the players for each team located in that one town, was there a community aspect to the league?
Holzwasser: Yeah, I’d say so. So no one stayed in Newport, just because of COVID-19 reasons obviously, but it was all local guys, people I’ve played against for a long time, just because they go to school in New England. You definitely get close to the guys on your team because you’re with them on the weekends. It was just really fun to compete with people again and see some friends that you haven’t seen in a little while and watch them play some baseball.
HN: Can you tell me about some of the safety protocols you had to follow this summer?
Holzwasser: The field at Newport [Cardines Field] is pretty unique. The dugouts are very small, and they’re located on the same side of the field so that wasn’t going to be an option. Both teams sat in the stands, six feet apart from each other, on orange “X”s on the stands.All the umpires were wearing masks. Once you got to first base, the first baseman and whoever was standing on first would wear a mask, since that was kind of the only point in the game where you’d be that close to somebody. To join the league, you had to test negative before showing up, and they did contact tracing and temperature checks every day before showing up to the field.
HN: Can you take me through a typical game day during the summer season?
Holzwasser: So there’s either day games or night games. The day games were at one. We’d show up as a team at this middle school field to take some batting practice. All the same protocols were in place at that field: temperature checks at the beginning, wearing masks, social distancing. We’d take BP for an hour then drive to Cardines Field, which was like 15 minutes away. You’d sit in the stands until your team was ready to do some warm-ups, and then really just typical game day preparations, like infield-outfield, and just getting ready for the game.
HN: You obviously had an incredible season in the summer, earning MVP. Did you find you were doing anything differently in your approach over the summer?
Holzwasser: I’d say it was kind of fine-tuning changes that I made not this summer, but the one before when I played in Newport [in the NECBL with the Gulls]. I had a hitting coach, Jim Sauro, that really helped me a lot, just kind of keeping my hands up in the box and staying balanced and on time, so it’s sort of like a stance switch that I was using this last spring and thinking that it helped me. It was more of a fine-tuning summer for me.
HN: Now that you’re back with the Huskies, what was it like being out there on the field for the first time?
Holzwasser: It was great, I hadn’t been to Parsons since that game against Hartford, so it was obviously great to be back here at our home field and seeing all your friends doing the thing that we love to do. It was a great first week, and we had good weather. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.
HN: Does it feel any different being out there practicing this year? Obviously, you have the safety protocols and the masks, but is there just a different energy out there?
Holzwasser: It is great because [it’s] most of the same guys from last year, so it’s not like there’s much turnover going on. So you feel really comfortable with who’s there. Obviously, things are different with the masks, and we’re in small groups still, so I’m only really with the infielders at the moment. It’s good to get super comfortable with the infielders because that’s who I’m going to be spending the most time with. We’re all just really excited to get going. We’ve had a bunch of different team meetings going over our expectations and everyone’s slowly starting to get on the same page.
HN: So with everything that’s going on in the world right now, do you find it difficult at all to focus on baseball?
Holzwasser: It’s definitely a release. I still have to get up at 7:30 in the morning but [head coach Mike Glavine] always says, “You don’t have to come to the field, you get to come to the field.” I definitely feel that it’s something I’m lucky I get to be able to do. A lot of people don’t have that release in their lives. I’m lucky.
HN: How will you continue to build off the success from the summer and sort of keep that momentum going into the spring?
Holzwasser: That’s why baseball is so hard because there’s so many ups and downs and it’s such a long season. I’m just going to focus on the little things, think about what I have to do to prepare every day. Staying on time, and that means taking every rep like it’s a game rep and even when you’re on deck or watching someone take batting practice, you’re still thinking about what you have to do and getting on time to the pitcher. I’d say it’s taking things slowly and taking it day by day.
HN: Is there anything else you think I should know about the team, or anything that’s going on as you get ready for the season?
Holzwasser: Last year’s team was a super special team. It reminded me a lot of my sophomore year, when we made it to a (NCAA Tournament) regional. It just had that competitiveness, but at that same time a family environment. We knew how to have fun in practice, but also stay focused, because we had a job at hand. Last year’s team and this year’s team, because we had such big carryover, I think it’s going to be that same way.