Erin Ball and Jake Fredrickson soar past the rest for The Occidental’s Athlete of the Week

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Image courtesy of Nancy Zhou

Erin Ball

Erin Ball (junior), this week’s athlete of the week, is a member of the women’s track and field team at Occidental College. Thursday, April 11, 2019. Nancy Zhou/The Occidental

Erin Ball (junior) threw 125–7 feet to set a personal record in discus at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational April 6. The mark was enough to place her second in the event and in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) standings and fifth all-time at Occidental. In addition to discus, Ball also set a personal record in the hammer throw and had a season best in pole vault.

“I had a great day all around,” Ball said. “My friend on the team was like ‘You have this PR in disc in your hands, it’s time for you to go get it,’ and I believed it after the day I’d been having.”

According to Ball, what made the difference in her record-breaking performance was simply translating what she was doing in her practice spins to the discus ring. Once the adjustment was made, Ball said her performance was entirely reshaped.

“I was really proud of the fact that I did it naturally,” Ball said. “This weekend, I brought a love for discus and nothing else into the ring, and I just knew that I could throw it far. I’m proud that I didn’t let everybody’s expectations of me get in the way of what I wanted to be doing.”

Fellow thrower Sabrina Degnan (senior) said that Ball’s goal-orientated and enthusiastic approach to training has had a significant impact not only on her own performance but that of her teammates as well.

“She is extremely self-motivated and sets high expectations of herself,” Degnan said. “During every practice, she sets herself short term goals and will continue to practice until she reaches them. I think her positivity and consistent work ethic has really elevated her to achieve this high level of performance.”

Keeping her recent success in mind, Ball has turned her attention to fulfilling a long-term goal of scoring at the SCIAC Championship Meet. Focusing on how her individual placement could contribute to an Occidental victory is what Ball says will propel her to an even higher performance.

“I think if I can not overthink what I’m doing, I can really help at SCIACs,” Ball said. “I trust that I deserve to be there, and that putting in work will get me there and keep me there and do really good things for the team. That motivates me more than anything else.”

Ball is a cognitive science major and mathematics minor, and if she could choose another track and field event to excel in, she would like to be a steeplechase competitor.

Jake Fredrickson

Jake Fredrickson (sophomore), this week’s athlete of the week, is a member of the men’s baseball team at Occidental College. Thursday, April 11, 2019. Nancy Zhou/The Occidental

Jake Fredrickson (sophomore) scored five runs, had seven RBIs and three home runs in an undefeated three-game series against Pomona-Pitzer College April 5 and 6. His batting performance garnered SCIAC Hitter of the Week and D3baseball.com National Team of the Week accolades. Fredrickson attributed his hitting to a more confident at-bat approach and a greater feeling of preparedness to face the Pomona pitchers.

“It was an unbelievably important weekend for us,” Fredrickson said. “We had just lost five conference games in a row to CMS and Chapman and we had a really close game on Friday that we ended up winning. I think that there was more of a sense of urgency for the team in general, and a little bit more fire after having seen failure in the games before.”

Fredrikson said, in addition to having a year of experience under his belt, working with coaches to fine-tune his batting mechanics and study his game has allowed him to trust his abilities to a greater extent than during his first season at Occidental.

“This year, I try to take more of a confidence and rhythm approach to my game,” Fredrickson said. “I have definitely spent more time in the cages this year than last year, hitting whenever I have free time. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at film of my swing and making a lot of small adjustments instead of major ones.”

Pitcher Cade Denyer (junior) said Fredrickson’s firepower at the plate was instrumental in sparking Occidental’s offense.

“Jake helped energize our team all weekend,” Denyer said. “Every at-bat, we were excited to see what he was going to do, and I believe he was a huge part to our success in our sweep against Pomona.”

Fredrickson said, on top of his hitting, he hopes to positively influence the atmosphere of the team with the little things he does, ranging from playing music at practice to keeping things light in between games during double-headers.

“Only being a sophomore but still feeling like I can be someone who influences where the team goes is really something that I enjoy,” Fredrickson said. “I try to keep things loose, I try to make it enjoyable because in my opinion, that’s when I think this team plays the best.”

Fredrickson is an economics major from Shoreline, WA, and his favorite class taken at Occidental so far is Austrian Economics taught by professor Daron Djerdjian.