It’s hard to say what the 2018 high school baseball season will bring, but one thing seems fairly certain: Mattituck will lead the league in Tyler Olsens.
The Tuckers have not one, but two players by those first and last names. As if the potential for confusion isn’t great enough, they’re both juniors and the two blondes look similar enough that they could be mistaken for relatives, which they are not.
Now the differences. The Olsens have different middle names, play different positions and use different arms to throw.
Tyler C. Olsen (the “C” stands for Charles) is a righthanded pitcher and the first switch hitter Steve DeCaro has had in his 16 years as Mattituck’s coach. Tyler F. Olsen (the “F” stands for Flanner) is a lefthanded first baseman/outfielder.
“We’ll have the same classes and it’s pretty confusing, especially in a small school like this, it’s even more unusual,” Tyler F. Olsen said at practice Monday, which was his 17th birthday.
So, what do people call them in order to differentiate between the two?
“My nickname my dad gave me was TO, and that’s been my nickname throughout school, and he’s always just been Tyler,” said Tyler C. Olsen.
The Mattituck baseball program found another way. When the Olsens were eighth-graders, junior high school coach John Albers used their middle initials, going with the shorthand of Colsen and Folsen.
“They just stuck,” DeCaro said. “Folsen and Colsen. It works.”
The Olsens said they met each other while playing PAL football 10 years ago, although they didn’t immediately know they shared the same names. “I think we figured it out pretty quickly,” said Folsen.
The two rose through the ranks together, sharing classes and playing on the same junior high school, junior varsity and travel baseball teams together when they were younger.
“I think at first we weren’t great friends, but as we got more and more classes together and we grew up together, we’ve kind of become closer, especially through baseball,” Colsen said. “I actually had people from other schools tell me, ‘Are you this Tyler Olsen that I grew up with?’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m not. He’s a different person, but we have the same names,’ and they’re always so confused. It’s pretty much been like that the entire time when we were in school together.”
Both Olsens are looking to make a name for themselves this coming season for the Tuckers, who last season won their second regional title in three years.
“I think that Colsen is probably going to be our [No.] 3 pitcher and Folsen, if he doesn’t start at first, he’s going to start in the outfield, so he’s going to start somewhere for us,” said DeCaro.
Folsen, who is also the assistant general manager for the North Fork Ospreys of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, said, “I’ve really been waiting for this for years now, and just really to get an opportunity to contribute, it’s really exciting.” He continued: “I try to be as scrappy and as hard-working as possible. I’m not going to hit any 400-foot home runs, but I just want to hit line drives and contribute to the team however I can, whatever position. Whatever Coach needs me to do, I’m happy to do.”
Colsen said: “This is my first full season on the varsity and hopefully I can make a big impact and help the team out, get some wins. I’m just very excited for the season, looking forward to it.”
Last season both Olsens were brought up to the varsity team for the playoffs. They must have grinned when the names Tyler Olsen were announced in succession over the public-address system and puzzled fans looked at each other.
Mattituck is hardly new to having players with the same last name on its roster. Over the years there have been brothers Ian and James Nish, John and Tom Boucher, Chris and Jon Dwyer, Joe and Jon Lisowy. But now, with the potential for two Tyler Olsens on the field, umpires may be doing a double take when looking at the lineup card.
“We’re going to have Tyler Olsens up the wazoo,” DeCaro said. “They’re both good sports about it. They think it’s funny. They’ve grown up together like this probably sitting next to each other most of their lives. They’re both really nice kids, and smart. They’re great kids. They’re both going to be big parts of us for the next two years, and we’re happy to have them.”
Photo caption: Tyler C. Olsen working on a fielding drill during Monday’s practice. (Credit: Bob Liepa)