BY GABE COHN
Growing up in Whitby, Ontario, starting catcher Josh-Daniel Osborne (JD) played a variety of sports. Hockey had always been the most popular sport in Canada so Osborne played, but he also took a liking for the great American pastime: baseball. His father, Clare Osborne, was a major influence and helped spark his eagerness to put on his catcher’s mask.
“My father had been huge into hockey and baseball so it wasn’t a surprise that I would eventually end up loving and playing both sports competitively,” Osborne said. “But even though I loved both sports I had a very strong passion for baseball so I stuck with it and eventually it took me on a path to the states to play collegiate baseball.”
Osborne played hockey in the winter and baseball in the summer while growing up. But once he put the majority of his focus on baseball, he thrived. So much so that he had the opportunity in 2013 to represent Canada in the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) U18 World Cup in Taiwan. The Canadian team didn’t advance past the qualifiers, but Osborne had a solid tournament, hitting .319 in five games. Through traveling and competition, the IBAF World Cup served as a great experience for Osborne.
“Competing at the Worlds was arguably the greatest experience of my life just based off the relationships that I built with my teammates and coaches,” Osborne said. “We busted our tail and competed hard for our country and fell a little short, but the experience of being treated like a big leaguer was unexplainable. I enjoyed every moment of the whole process.”
After the World Cup, Osborne attended Polk State College after being heavily recruited by the school while attending All Saints Academy. As a freshman, in 53 games, Osborne hit .292 with three home runs and 53 runs batted in. After such a strong debut, Osborne showed even more improvement as a sophomore. In 54 games, Osborne hit a staggering .354 and drove in 50 runs. His production as a sophomore earned him a spot on the first-team All-Suncoast Conference.
Leaving the two-year program at Polk State College, Osborne was recruited by UT head coach Joe Urso to play, and after visiting UT, decided to join the program.
“University of Tampa felt like home after I went on my visit and I was very attracted to the success there,” Osborne said. “I am excited to be a part of the family here and just want to do my part and contribute to the success.”
So far this season, Osborne has thrived as a Spartan. In seven games this season he is producing a .297 AVG/.367 OBP/.704 SLG slash line with three home runs and nine runs batted in. His three home runs and nine RBIs lead the team.
Besides being a key hitter in the middle of the Spartan lineup, Osborne also has the duties of a starting catcher. As a starting catcher he manages the very talented Spartan rotation. This season the pitching staff has a combined (earned run average) of 3.50 and has only given up more than four runs once.
His success can also be tied to his respect to major leaguers whom he has looked up to and modeled his game after. In spite of not having a lot of major league players to look up to in Canada, Osborne was influenced by one Canadian player that changed the way he sees the game.
“I model my game after a fellow Canadian, [Chicago White Sox second baseman] Brett Lawrie,” Osborne said. “He brings a lot of intensity to the game and has fun doing it. I try to get the boys fired up and keep everyone focused throughout nine innings for us to get a win.”
Spartan third baseman Cody deNollyes, a teammate of Osborne’s at Polk State college, can attest to JD’s antics and personality around his teammates.
“JD has a great personality and is always trying to pick people up and set a positive atmosphere,” deNoyelles said. “While we were at Polk State, we had a great relationship and he always made sure that I was not just playing the game, but enjoying the game.”
Transferring from one college to another can be hard for players, but Spartan outfielder Casey Scoggins explains that Osborne seemed to fit right in.
“JD understands the hard work mentality that is preached around here,” Scoggins said. “He works hard, especially when it comes to improving as a catcher. He is always one of the first people at practice and one of the last to leave and he carries that mentality onto the field.”
The Spartans, along with their anchor JD Osborne, look to continue their path towards a repeat this weekend against the Barry University Bucs.