Carlsen returns to UW

One more year with the Huskies for the NKHS grad.

“SEATTLE – After he was drafted by the Oakland Athletics this summer, Jeff Carlsen, a UW pitcher and North Kitsap High School graduate, has decided to return to the Huskies for his senior season. Carlsen, a 6’7 starting pitcher who is the all-time leader for UW in starts, hopes to take to the mound when the Husky season begins in February. It is the second time Carlsen has turned down a professional team. After the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him after high school graduation, Carlsen decided to attend UW. But, a shoulder injury sustained during his junior year hurt his draft status. When the A’s drafted him, it was in the 42nd round – 18 rounds after Pittsburgh had drafted him two years ago. Carlsen has been rehabilitating the shoulder injury. The return to UW will give him time to get stronger, he said. I just didn’t feel one hundred percent yet, Carlsen said. No way was it a letdown (to return to school). It’s a great place to play, the competition is really good, and I’ll have the opportunity next year to go again. Carlsen’s return to the Huskies has already given him an experience he won’t get elsewhere. Carlsen, along with the rest of the Huskies baseball team, got to travel and play in Cuba in early September. They split the series with the Cubans, 2-2. Not bad, Carlsen said, considering that the competition kept getting better (and older). The first games were against younger teams. We beat the young team really bad, Carlsen said. They brought in a totally new team the next day. They were good enough to beat us, but we had a great game. Carlsen said the third team, which had players in their early 20s, was even better. They were awesome. They were some of the best players I ever played against. The games were played at a school that had been converted to an insane asylum, Carlsen remembers. All the people there were a little bit crazy. They were watching the game, he said. It was kind of a weird experience. The field was small, Carlsen added (315 feet to center) with a thick, slow infield. Orlando Hernandez, the Yankees star who defected from Cuba, had grown up blocks away. And the outfields presented challenges. Instead of mole holes, there were tarantula holes, Carlsen said. A couple of players saw tarantula legs come out, then go back down. The Cuban people’s love for baseball is strong, Carlsen said. They are totally in love with baseball. There’s baseball in the streets – kids walking around playing stickball, he said.It was just amazing. It’s such a cultural experience to see the way people live. The team stayed in a hotel in Havana. When not playing baseball, they went scuba-diving and snorkeling, and travelled around the town. It was awesome, Carlsen said. Now that he is back in the states, Carlsen is rehabilitating his injury with range-of-motion and flexibility exercises. He is not pitching yet but hopes to have a good year. I’d say my number one goal is to get healthy and help the team win, Carlsen said. I’d like to go out on a great note. I was kind of disappointed by how poorly we played last year. We played good but were young and inexperienced. I’d like to take a step forward, go to regionals, and see where it takes us. The all-time lead in starts is not Carlsen’s only honor at UW. After a career at North Kitsap High School, where he was a captain for two years and league MVP as a senior, Carlsen went to UW and was named to the All-Pac-10 North team his freshman year. He made 14 starts his sophomore year, and ended up with a 5-2 record and 1.89 ERA. He was a league all-star, and went into his junior year with high expectations. Carlsen had good numbers that junior year with a 6-3 record, but the shoulder injury, a bone bruise, cut his year short. The Athletics drafted him and later offered him a contract, but Carlsen will return for one more year. I can’t say enough about how professional they were, Carlsen said. As soon as he returned to school, the A’s lost his rights. He hopes to be drafted after his senior year. I thought it was best to get totally healthy, have a great year, and get drafted again, he said. And I hope everyone in Kitsap County will come over and watch the games. “