Fassnacht Day? No, Fassnacht Month

By on March 20, 2019
Ephrata grad Nate Fassnacht, a junior shortstop at George Washing-ton University, is batting .443 for the Colonials. Photo courtesy of GW Athletics

Ephrata grad Nate Fassnacht, a junior shortstop at George Washing-ton University, is batting .443 for the Colonials. Photo courtesy of GW Athletics

Former Ephrata star named A-10’s top player for three straight weeks

Even the best hitters in baseball fail to get on base six or seven times out of 10 at-bats.

It’s just the nature of the game.

Nate Fassnacht, a 2016 Ephrata grad and a three-time L-L League First-Team All-Section shortstop, was dealing with that reality last year.

After being named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team in 2017, his sophomore season at George Washington University saw him bat .277.

Compounding matters, he ended the season dealing with a minor knee injury.

“I didn’t play up to my potential last year, which was definitely frustrating,” Fassnacht said, “but I think it was a big growing moment for me. The game of baseball is a game of failure, so just the way you learn from it and the way you grow from it has been big in my success this year.”

No one can argue the success that Fassnacht has enjoyed through the Colonials’ first 18 games.

In fact, the 5-foot-11 junior shortstop on Monday was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week.

For the third straight week.

“I’ve received it once or twice since I’ve been here, but three times in a row is definitely an awesome feeling,” said Fassnacht, who hit .550 in the Colonials’ 4-1 week with a crazy 1.790 OPS.

The former Ephrata star credits his fortunes to the growth and development he’s made as a player since heading to the Washington D.C. campus.

Mostly, however, Fassnacht talks about the work he’s done on his mental approach with Colonials’ boss Gregg Ritchie and the coaches.

“I’ve been working a lot on just having the right mindset,” he said. “I’ve been having a lot of fun this year through everything and I think that’s one of the biggest things — playing loose and playing free.”

In the off-season, Fassnacht set out to create a more consistent swing. Now, he’s more quiet in the batter’s box. There’s no wasted energy.

“I’ve calmed a lot of my pre-pitch routine down,” Fassnacht said. “It’s a lot simpler and a lot smoother. So I think that’s definitely helped a lot too, just with pitch recognition and stuff like that.”

Clearly, the hard work has paid off.

Fassnacht currently ranks among the top-20 in six different NCAA offensive categories. After hitting 11-for-20 in George Washington’s five games last week, he raised his team-best season batting average to a lusty .443 with a 13-game hit streak.

Those are numbers that would make the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, proud.

But perhaps the thing that Fassnacht likes the most is that he has just three strikeouts — three — in 70 at-bats this season.

“I try not to get too tied up in all of my stats, but I know I’ve been hitting and getting on base a lot,” he said. “One of my biggest differences between this year and last year is strikeouts. Last year, they were up, like, in the 50s by the end of the season. So it’s been a big thing for me just with pitch selection and being more selective early in the count with pitches I can get on.”

Batting number three in the Colonials’ order, Fassnacht comes up behind speedsters Cade Fergus, a freshman center fielder, and Steve Barmakian, a junior third baseman, giving him plenty of RBI opportunities.

“I like hitting number three a lot. I’ve got two fast guys in front of me that get on base a lot,” Fassnacht said, “so right out of the gate, I’m getting to the plate with usually one or two guys on.”

And his mental approach to the game has contributed to 12 doubles, tying him for the NCAA lead with Arizona’s Cameron Cannon and Utah’s Oliver Dunn, and 17 RBIs.

“I think that’s been a big thing — getting away from just simply putting the ball in play to being ready to drive balls early in counts,” he said.

Of course, Fassnacht’s hot start to the season no doubt has Major League Baseball scouts taking notice. He is eligible for the June’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, and the even-keeled Fassnacht has been contacted by a couple of teams.

His time playing in the Cape Cod League in the summer following his freshman year also provided him a lot of exposure.

“I try not to think about (being drafted) a whole lot because I don’t want it to affect how I’m playing,” Fassnacht said. “I just want to go out and do my thing every day. I’ve definitely thought about it a little bit, but I don’t want to let it get in my head at all.”

His thoughts at the moment are focused on trying to help the Colonials win games. As of press time, George Washington is 11-7 overall. Its A10 opening-series is set for this weekend, when the Colonials host Rhode Island from March 22-24.

“We have a very high potential this year,” Fassnacht said. “I think we still have a lot of pieces to put together and we’re a very young team. We have a lot of freshmen and a lot of transfers that are getting to play big roles down the stretch. So I think we’re definitely on the right track, but we have a lot of pieces to still put together.”

In the meantime, Fassnacht will try to just keep doing his thing. And not dwelling on failure.

“Just keep having fun, honestly,” Fassnacht said.

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