Ollie Steals Bases and UCI’s Heart
He goes by Ollie, he’s only 19 and he is the sole freshmen on the UC Irvine Baseball team’s starting line up.
His full name is Winston Oliver Linton, but he’s come to be known as Ollie after adopting it as his nickname on the field.
He is a unique individual and a freshman in a sport mostly dominated by upperclassmen here at UCI.
Linton is half Jamaican and half Filipino, and the oldest of three.
His hometown is Winnetka, California and he graduated from Crespi High School.
There he played football, baseball and basketball, but as the years passed he ‘just seemed to retire from a sport’ reflected Linton.
In his junior and senior year it was solely baseball and even before that he ‘knew baseball was going to be the one’ he stuck with.
At Crespi, Linton garnered numerous awards and records, and went to CIF twice, once as the championship team and twice as part of the El Segundo Championship team.
Yet Linton’s initial involvement with the sport of baseball was ‘through family and watching it on TV or going to games,’ Linton mentioned.
Not only did the sport catch his interest but it was the one he ‘had the most fun in.’
So he started playing tee-ball when he was young and was the first member of his family to be good at it.
UCI’s previous head coach, John Savage, recruited him while Linton was still in high school.
There were other schools pining for Linton, but none ‘really caught my eye too much.’
Linton wasn’t too familiar with UCI’s baseball program either, but some of his future ‘teammates lived in my area and told me to come here.’
In the end Linton ended up going to UCI ‘because of the school, players and what was going to go on with the new coaching staff’.
Then, after all that, Linton thought that maybe he would red shirt his first season because he said, ‘ [I] didn’t know if I would see the field my first year.’
Luckily for the team, things went the other way and he got his chance to play.
Linton has also seen the field a lot more than most other rookies. He’s part of the starting lineup, playing in the outfield and hitting several times over the mound when at bat.
Linton is also notorious for stealing bases and set a school record of 29 stolen bases at Crespi High School along with numerous other records.
Because he’s a young freshman and much smaller, Linton wants to ‘gain respect from other teams and my teammates.’
But it plays to his advantage, as he is quick to and from bases and agile on plays.
This season Linton has broken out as a key player for the Anteaters and has provided a breath of fresh air after a season that started out shaky.
It has been his family who have kept him grounded and who also keep ‘me inspired and motivated to keep playing the game,’ said Linton.
Even with the long distance between Irvine and Winnetka ‘they’re always there, trying to make it to every game,’ Linton said.
During his first season of college baseball, Linton has learned a lot.
College baseball, for Linton, has ‘taken the game to another level. things move faster. I’ve learned more about basically what my role is on the field.’
Linton is also more aware of what type of player he is and is trying to stop ‘letting the little things take me out of the player that I am,’ as well as taking care of those ‘rookie mistakes.’
His goals for the upcoming seasons are ‘to get experience and learn more. To basically get a better feel for the game since it’s at a higher level,’ and of course to ‘get better.’
Ultimately, he hopes to be ‘picked up by one of the major league teams and if not then … I’m not sure. I haven’t thought that far ahead,’ Linton said.
However, he is making it a point to play baseball for as long as he can.
As for this year, Linton hopes that his team wraps up the ‘season and hopefully gets selected to make regionals.’
The point is to make it further than last season, but as of right now, it all depends on whether UCI can win at least two of three games against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in their final series of the season.
UCI is currently trying to get the third spot in the Big West Conference from Cal Poly.
However, whether or not the season ends in regionals, it has definitely been one that introduced a powerful offensive and defensive player to the Anteaters’ lineup.