Dylan Foster was a freshman and new to the outfield when Husson University baseball coach Jason Harvey had him start shagging fly balls.
“I’d never really done it before my freshman year here,” Foster said. “I had to get used to getting a read on the ball off the bat.”
Now a senior, Foster, a Messalonskee High School graduate, is one of the Eagles’ most reliable outfielders and the team’s leadoff hitter. Foster will be at the top of order when Husson plays the University of Maine at Farmington in a doubleheader today at the Winkin Complex in Bangor.
“Looking back four years ago, to where he is now, Dylan’s a completely different player,” Harvey said. “He’s been a tremendous part of our program. He’s a guy who comes in and does his job on a daily basis.”
Foster has played in all 10 Husson (3-7) games so far this season. He began the season as the Eagles’ right fielder, but when Pat Thibodeau went down with an injury, Foster slid over to center field, where he’s played the last three games.
“He’s very versatile. If we asked him to come back into the infield (Foster played shortstop at Messalonskee), he could do it in a few days,” Harvey said.
Foster began the season as the two hitter in Husson’s lineup, but with Thibodeau injured, he’s moved to leadoff. Foster has a .324 batting average and an on-base percentage of .432. He’s tied for the team lead with seven walks, and is also tied for the team lead with eight runs. Foster also has seven RBI.
Foster’s batting average has increased each season, as he’s become a more experienced and disciplined hitter.
“Freshman year, I would just try to put the ball in play and use my speed,” Foster said. “Every year, I’ve gained more of an understanding of what pitchers are trying to do… For me, a seven pitch walk might be better than a double. I can get on base and steal second and get into scoring position.”
“One thing Dylan’s always had is speed. He can run with anybody,” Harvey said. “He’s become really confident at the plate. He’s getting swings off the tee year round. He’s been committed to the weight room.”
A Hospitality and Tourism Management major, Foster will graduate this spring, then begin work on a master’s degree in the fall. He’d like to work in the cruise industry, before getting into hotel management and ownership. First, he’d like to help Husson win the North Atlantic Conference tournament and get back to the NCAA regionals for the first time since 2011.
“I think we can make a run to regionals,” Foster said.
With snow still blanketing most of northern New England, the NAC has determined that any baseball team that plays at least half its conference schedule will be eligible for the conference playoffs. Because of the artificial surface at the Winkin Complex, Harvey thinks Husson will be able to play most of its games.
“I think at the end of the year, it will play itself out. It’s something that’s out of our control,” Harvey said.