PORT ANGELES — The purest baseball swing on the North Olympic Peninsula has its roots in an early-childhood intervention.
Port Angeles right fielder/pitcher Ethan Flodstrom throws with his right hand, but his power-packed line drives come with Flodstrom swinging freely as a lefty.
“I’m a natural right hander,” Flodstrom said. “My dad [Eric] worked with me since I was super young, as soon as I could pick up a bat, so all credit to him for making me a lefty.”
Flodstrom was quick to say his parents supported him in all his athletic endeavors, but baseball won out in the end.
“I tried out everything but my love for baseball is over everything else,” Flodstrom said.
And Flodstrom displays that love in his approach to the game.
“It’s a combination of him being an extremely talented but also a hard working kid,” Port Angeles coach Karl Myers said.
“He’s able to combine the work ethic with his abilities and has becomes a special player.
“He’s been a big-time influence to get guys to go hit, to throw, he’s really stepping into a leadership role with the team.”
As a sophomore, Flodstrom led the Olympic League 2A Division-champion Roughriders (18-5) back to the state tournament, leading the team in batting average (.448), on-base percentage (.618), slugging percentage (.655), RBIs (22), and tied for first in extra-base hits (six doubles, three triples).
He was a first-team All-Olympic League 2A Division selection as an outfielder.
And Flodstrom is the All-Peninsula Baseball MVP as selected by area coaches and the sports staff of the Peninsula Daily News.
“His ability to hit is something I haven’t seen as a coach,” Myers said. “Not just his swing, but his approach at the plate. He is able to break down what pitcher is trying to do and sticks to his plan. He can flip on a breaking ball, he can go the other way if the pitcher wants to set up on the outer half.
“And his two-strike approach is phenomenal. He can fight pitches off and still get hard contact when pitcher is trying his best to strike him out.”
Flodstrom was able to improve up on an impressive debut as a freshman despite seeing less of what hitters like (fastballs).
“The other thing is as he gets older and becomes more of a known commodity guys are pitching around him,” Myers said. “That can be tough as a hitter when you get only one or two pitches a game, so his ability to capitalize and make those pitchers pay is strong.”
Flodstrom said he noticed a change at the plate from freshman season to his sophomore campaign, calling it a “big jump.”
“Freshman season I got a bunch of fastballs and hit low in the order. This year, pitchers pitched me differently and I had to outhink the pitcher a lot more and wait for my pitch. It was a lot harder to hit this year for sure, but it was a nice challenge to get that higher level of competition.
“I saw mostly curve balls, maybe one or two fastballs a game. Pitchers were getting their curves over for strikes, so I had to deal with the curve and jump on the fastballs.
Another hallmark of Flodstrom’s swing is the bat speed he generates. Simply put, he swings with conviction.
“I had a pitching coach tell me one time if you want to throw hard you have to throw hard,” Myers said. “And you’ve got to swing the bat with pretty good pace to hit home runs.”
Flodstrom didn’t have one of those sophomore year, but the summer baseball fence at Civic Field isn’t installed during the spring sports season, taking away two sure-thing home runs from Flodstrom in a nonleague game against Lynden.
“He has a really good pace, he doesn’t lose vision and he’s adapted to a violent swing, a controlled violence where he’s swinging to drive the ball.”
Flodstrom also pitches for Port Angeles, posting a 2.80 ERA in 15 innings with an 0-1 record and an 11/3 strikeout to walk ratio.
“He works extremely fast and that’s something as a coach you love to see and love to see as a defender backing him up,” Myers said.
“He has the ability to throw on both sides of the plate, elevate and pitch off his fastball.”
Flodstrom also has a changeup and a curve to fool hitters.
And Flodstrom has a strong arm in right field.
“He’s a good solid outfielder,” Myers said. “He has the ability to throw guys out and make special plays with his arm.”
Flodstrom pointed to Port Angeles’ comeback from a 7-0 deficit to beat North Kitsap at home with the Olympic League 2A title on the line as his highlight of the season.
“It was definitely fun to see us progress as the season moved on and get better and better,” Flodstrom said.
“But the biggest highlight was to walk it off and win the league title at home. “One of our goals to win the league title, so that was an amazing feeling. It was crazy, everybody was hugging each other, we dog piled out in the middle of the field. Everybody was so happy. Seven runs is a lot to overcome, so it made it even sweeter that we fought back and grinded out a win. We don’t pull that off if we don’t play together and play for each other.”
Flodstrom also was pleased that the team qualified for a third-straight state tournament appearance.
“Now the goal is to move on in the state tournament and advance to play the last weekend [in Yakima in the state championship],” Flodstrom said.
“That’s definitely the big goal.”
2018 All-Peninsula Baseball Team
• MVP: Ethan Flodstrom, soph., Port Angeles — Outfielder/pitcher was best player on Peninsula’s best team.
• Brody Merritt, soph., Port Angeles — First-team All-Olympic League selection at pitcher and third base. Posted miserly 0.81 ERA in 25.2 innings pitched with 33 to six strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 3-0 record with one save. Also hit .296 at the plate, coming on strong during Olympic League play.
• Chance Wilson, senior, Forks — First-team All-Evergreen League infielder hit .522 with 10 extra base hits (seven doubles, two triples, one home run) and seven stolen bases for Spartans. Will play at Shoreline Community College.
• Johnnie Young, junior, Sequim — Second-team All-Olympic League selection at first base and also was Wolves No. 2 pitcher.
• Ian Miller, senior, Sequim — Second-team All-Olympic League selection as Wolves No. 1 pitcher will play for Yakima Valley Community College.
• Carson Jackson, senior, Port Angeles — Second-team All-Olympic League pick sparked Riders from the leadoff spot with a .329 batting average, team-high 32 runs.
• Matt Bainbridge, senior, Chimacum — First-team All-Olympic League pick as an infielder for Cowboys.
• Joel Wood, junior, Port Angeles — Exceptional behind the dish at catcher for Riders, guiding pitchers through games, keeping balls in front of him and making sure base runners stay honest. Hit .339 with a .506 on-base percentage and third on team in RBI and runs.
• Colton McGuffey, senior, Port Angeles — First-team All-Olympic League pick as a utility player. Versatile pitcher/infielder had a 2.35 ERA in 38.2 innings, a 32 to 13 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 5-2 record. Second on team in batting average (.357) and RBIs (20).
Gavin Guerrero, jr., Port Angeles; Bo Bradow, jr., Port Angeles; Hayden Woods, jr., Port Angeles; Michael Young, frosh., Sequim; Reece Blatner, sr., Forks; Isaac Purser, jr., Chimacum; Cole Dotson, jr., Chimacum; Andy Johnston, senior, Quilcene.