Chaszar’s arm helps lead Post 26 into district playoffs
Aug 03, 2015 06:15AM ● Published by Community News Service
Bordentown Post 26 manager Tom Dolan paid his rightfielder Austin Chaszar a nice compliment, but to the lesser informed, it may not seem like praise.
“He’s exactly like a softball player,” Dolan said. “That’s the best thing you can say about him.”
Anyone who watches a lot of softball knows that when base hits travel to right field, they are often turned into outs when the right fielder comes up gunning to nail the runner before she gets to first base.
Chaszar made a habit of doing that this year. Of his nine outfield assists, two came when he threw out runners at home, and the other seven came by gunning down surprised baserunners at first. That helped earn him the Mercer County American Legion League’s Ed McGlone Gold Glove award.
The Bordentown High School graduate, who just completed his freshman year at Keystone College, played right field regularly for the first time.
“When he put me out there I had two options—throw to first or throw to second,” Chaszar said. “I decided to go to first, and I have a pretty accurate arm.”
It’s also a strong arm, which runners find out when they discover their hit got turned into a 9-3 putout. Or, they get their single, but are nailed making the turn because they are used to the throw going into second.
“It takes them by surprise,” Chaszar said. “I know most players, if they hit the ball in the outfield, most likely they’re gonna round the bag. I think I did take a few guys by surprise. If people are hearing about it I guess coaches are telling them to watch out for it.”
Right field is the latest stop on the Austin Chaszar position tour, as he has been all over the diamond.
He started his career in Bordentown T-Ball and then moved up to the Minors in little league. Soon after, he was called up to the Majors when a team was missing a few players.
“I liked that,” he said. “I like to be ahead of the game. If you’re at the back of the game, you lose the grip on it. Playing up with them gave me a lot of experience to see what I’d be facing in future.”
Chaszar played for Bordentown’s 2008 New Jersey State Champion Little League 12-year-old team and enjoyed the run despite not being an impact player.
“I said to myself ‘I have to get back ahead in this sport,’” Chaszar said. “I went to the weight room, got my reps in and got in better shape.”
He then played for the Northern Burlington Babe Ruth League, and moved on to Junior Legion, travel ball and American Legion while also playing for BHS. Throughout that time, he played the infield, outfield, pitched and caught.
“I was much better in the outfield, and when I went to Babe Ruth that was my first year in the outfield,” he said. “I pitched in high school.. As a freshman I was a closer for varsity. My sophomore year I was mostly a starter. My junior year I went back to closer and my senior year I decided to catch. I said ‘Coach if you need someone to catch, I’ll do it.’”
While that might seem like a sacrifice for some players, Chaszar enjoyed donning the gear.
“In the outfield, some days you’re lucky if you get one ball hit to you,” he said. “As a catcher you get a play every once in a while and you’re catching over 100 pitches. It keeps you in the game, you get to know ump’s strike zone and where he’s gonna call it.”
Chaszar ended up going to Keystone College in Pennsylvania, where he is majoring in recreation and sports management. Keystone has evolved from a successful Junior College program to an NCAA school, and one of Chaszar’s former coaches recruited him to go there.
“I went down for a visit, it was really nice,” he said. “There were banners all across the wall. I thought ‘This team really wins a lot of games, I want to be part of it.’ It just caught my eye and I wanted to join it.”
He was told that he would not play much as a freshman and that his playing time would increase each season.
“The more you stay, the more they respect you and will give you playing time,” Chaszar said.
After playing sparingly in the outfield in the spring, he regained his full-time status with Post 26 this summer and helped Bordentown to a 19-5 record heading into the District playoffs. He was successful at the plate, too. Chaszar carried a .290 average with 7 RBI, four extra base hits, 15 runs scored, and two stolen bases.
Dolan said he was glad to have Chaszar back, especially since Post 26 was without a rightfielder at the start of the season. The manager had to move Chaszar over there, and he can’t help but enjoy watching the Keystone sophomore bedevil baserunners.
“He’s definitely looking to throw a kid out,” Dolan said. “I don’t care how fast he is or whatever. His first instinct is to come up throwing. He’s blessed to play with a short fence here (280 feet to right field) so he gets to cheat a little bit more, but he’s throwing them out at West Windsor and all over. The kid is just unbelievable, he gets to the ball so quick.”
The right fielder’s bat is also quick. Dolan slotted Chaszar seventh in the lineup specifically so he would see more fastballs thrown his way.
“For his size, he’s got a lot of pop,” the coach said. “Sometimes he tries to do a little too much, that’s when we start yelling at him. But he corrects it.”
Yelling is not Chaszar’s style, however.
“He’s not a rah rah kid but he’ll stick up for his teammates,” Dolan said. “In a quiet way he’ll try and lead by example instead of with his mouth.”