BILLINGS — Steen Fredrickson didn’t really know what he was getting into.
“I had been to Montana one time when I made the call to come to MSUB,” Fredrickson said. “I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know anybody here.”
Four years later, the pitcher from Ashland, Oregon, wouldn’t change his decision for the world.
“It’s been amazing,” he told MTN Sports and Montanasports.com without hesitation. “I’d like to call Montana home now. It’s surpassed all my expectations.”
But it didn’t start out that way.
Fredrickson arrived on the MSU Billings campus with a lot of raw talent — that he had no idea what to do with.
“I could throw a ball decently hard back then and didn’t know where it was going,” he recalled. “I kind of got the nickname JoJo.”
“JoJo the Circus Boy, that’s what we used to call him,” joked outfielder Matt Dillon, “because he would get up on the mound and wouldn’t understand where he was at.”
“JoJo the Circus Clown, I believe it was,” head coach Aaron Sutton said. “But he’s harnessed that energy and put it all into the mound, and he’s turned that into a positive for him.”
After a disastrous sophomore season that saw him finish with an ERA above 8.00, something clicked. He came back as a junior and was named the co-Great Northwest Athletic Conference pitcher of the year as the Jackets won their second regular-season title in three seasons.
Dillon marvels at Fredrickson’s progress: “From when he came in as a freshman until now, he’s made tremendous leaps. He’s a stud for us.”
“What we call a stopper,” Sutton said. “Wherever you’re at, if you need a quality outing, he’s a guy that’s going to give you six, seven innings all the time and give you a chance to win a game.”
Fredrickson has been just as good as a senior. He leads the league in wins with an ERA under 4. After winning their tournament opener Wednesday, the Yellowjackets will save him until their most important game as they try to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.
“It’s going to be a grind the next week trying to get this GNAC title and eventually get to regionals, and he’s going to be a big guy in that next step for our program,” said shortstop Wyatt Setian.
From clown to ring leader.