03/07/2016 10:26 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – March 7, 2016 – When the Lincoln-Way North baseball season comes to a close, it may mark the final chapter in program history, but it won’t be the last hurrah for Tommy Szczasny’s baseball career.
Lincoln-Way North is expected to close its doors next fall – part of Lincoln-Way District 210’s plan to resolve a financial crisis.
However, the end of the season marks a new beginning for Szczasny, a utility infielder who will take his game to the next level this summer with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen before beginning his collegiate tenure at Northern Illinois in the fall.
“My college coach said he sends guys to this league and it’s a really good league,” Szczasny said. “I got excited about it because I started researching and I think it will help me get acclimated to college baseball.”
Szczasny is part of a 10-player recruiting class that second-year Northern Illinois coach Mike Kunigonis is bringing in next season. The class is ranked 94th nationally by Perfect Game and first in the Mid-American Conference.
“The coaches were probably the No. 1 reason I decided on NIU,” Szczasny said. “The facilities were really nice. A new stadium is being built; the weight room is really nice. I think it’s going in the right direction from a program standpoint.”
Szczasny is ranked in the top 500 nationally and No. 34 in Illinois, according to Perfect Game. He was ranked 69th nationally among third basemen by Perfect Game and fourth in Illinois. According to Prep Baseball Report, Szczasny is the 79th best third baseman in the nation and fourth in Illinois.
One constant of Szczasny’s baseball career that is sure to carry over to the college level is an unwavering work ethic.
“I work hard; I know there’s always someone out there trying to beat me,” he said. “I get competitive; I’m going to give it my all. That’s what I plan to do for the next four years. That’s why I’m glad Coach K saw that in me – not many other colleges did. I can’t wait to get to campus this fall.”
Szczasny played 35 games for the Phoenix last season, helping the team to a 23-10-1 mark and regional title. This season, he’s hopeful the school will have a good shot to go out in style by reaching the state championship.
The Tinley Park, Ill. native batted .341 and collected 22 RBIs during his junior season.
“I’ve always been able to hit,” he said. “That’s my main strength. I’ve been improving my arm strength and defense over the last couple years. To play D-I, you need to be a well-rounded player. I’ve been trying to improve everything. I have good instincts; I watch baseball a lot and study it.”
In his free time, Szczasny cheers on the Chicago Blackhawks, does yoga and eats good food.
He’ll join future college teammate and former high school teammate Josh Mutter, a freshman pitcher / outfielder at NIU, on this year’s Oilmen roster. Kevin Jones, Andrew Ray, Jason Gasser, Brad Wood and Joe Jumonville are among the other Huskies who have worn an Oilmen uniform in past seasons.
“I’m trying to have a good start this summer,” Szczasny said. “I want to get acclimated to being around college baseball players. I want to get used to the speed of the game. I think it’ll be a big advantage for me going into the fall because I’ve already seen college competition. I want to go into NIU already adjusted and hopefully have a chance to start my freshman year. That’s my main goal.”