Freshman pitcher finds role with NIU

Ryan Ostry

DeKALB — Growing up in the town of McHenry surrounded by corn stalks, freshman pitcher Michael Lasiewicz had one love and passion as his favorite pastime — baseball.

“I started playing when I was about four or five,” Lasiewicz said. “I honestly just taught myself, because neither my mom or dad played the game.”

The freshman phenom said he tries to replicate his game around the ones who play it best.

“Baseballwise, my mentor is Anthony Rizzo,” Lasiewicz said. “With the way he battled cancer and came back, that was amazing, and he just goes about his business and plays the game very well.”

Lasiewicz said he has the old-fashioned, blue collar mentality when he is on and off the mound.

“When I go on that mound, I just want to put my head down, do my best, hit my spots and execute my pitches the best I can.” Lasiewicz said.

At McHenry High School, the star pitcher accomplished a lot.

Some of those accolades included earning first team All-Fox Valley Conference honors, winning 17 career games, which is second in school history, striking out 169 career batters, which ranks No. 3 in school history and recording a no-hitter against Dundee-Crown High School.

“That game was just awesome,” Lasiewicz said. “I was just hitting every spot I wanted to, and my defense just really backed me up the whole game as well.”

Lasiewicz started getting offers heading into his senior year, and that is when he knew that Division I college baseball was a possibility for him.

“I honestly only really visited two schools besides NIU, which were Eastern [Illinois] and Southern [Illinois],” Lasiewicz said. “I got a lot of calls from other schools, but I never really followed up with them.”

Lasiewicz has adapted nicely in his new environment being a student-athlete at the college level, and he said he’s really enjoying his pick.

“I love the people here,” Lasiewicz said. “My teammates — it really just doesn’t get better than that, even my classmates here are all just really nice.”

So far to date, Lasiewicz has led the way for the Huskie pitching staff with a 2.70 ERA, 32 strikeouts in 30 innings, holding batters to a .254 batting average and not giving up more than a double.

“[Lasiewicz] has really stepped up being a freshman for us this year getting the nod on Sundays,” said senior pitcher George Faue. “He’s just been lights out. He’s still got a lot to learn being a freshman, but he’s been absolutely shoving it for us, which is huge.”

Even though the star studded pitcher is young, he has gotten high praise from his coach who has put him on a pedestal.

“[Lasiewicz] is one of the best I’ve seen,” said Head Coach Mike Kunigonis. “Hands down, he is up there with Jesse Hahn and a couple other guys at the big leagues who I’ve coached,” according to a Feb. 26 Northern Star article.

If the freshman keeps up his solid play, he will be playing baseball for a long time.