Coming out of North Eugene High School two years ago, Robert Ahlstrom’s only offer to play baseball at a four-year college came from Simpson University.
Ahlstrom turned down the NAIA school in Redding, Calif., to play at Chemeketa Community College in Salem.
“I didn’t have many options, but I didn’t get discouraged,” Ahlstrom said. “I wasn’t fully developed so I knew that if I went to a JuCo and got stronger and got some innings under my belt at the college level that would be better than trying to force my way into a university and not get the innings I wanted.”
Ahlstrom was named most valuable player in the South Division of the Northwest Athletic Conference while earning third-team all-American honors. The 6-foot-2 lefty went 4-3 with a 2.55 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 10 starts while batting .302 with six doubles and 29 runs scored for the Storm.
“I got a lot stronger, mentally and physically, and put on 15 pounds,” he said. “It was a grind and I got a lot of innings under my belt. It got my confidence up.”
Ahlstrom went to play for the Medford Rogues of the Great West League, a summer spot for college players, when he got an offer to pitch for Oregon.
“A whole bunch of schools started talking to me so that was cool to get the recognition and see my hard work pay off,” Ahlstrom said. “I went to a camp at Oregon right after my senior year of high school and kind of got on their radar. They checked in with me throughout that year at Chemeketa.”
Ahlstrom is expected to begin his sophomore season in the bullpen for the Ducks, who start a four-game series to open the season at Texas Tech on Friday.
“I’ve never been on a plane so to go to Texas for my first series is awesome,” he said.
Ahlstrom moved from Placerville, Calif., to Eugene before his freshman season at North Eugene. He was a three-time, all-Midwestern League selection for the Highlanders who went 5-2 with a 2.01 ERA as a senior in 2017 when he threw a no-hitter against Marist.
“I was always a fan of college baseball and moving to a town with this program, I went to a lot of Civil War games and any other games I could,” said Ahlstrom, whose brother, Tommy, is a senior infielder at Western Oregon. “It is still kind of strange. I always came here as a fan and now I will get to play here.”