Times Baseball Player of the Year | Zach Plesac, Crown Point

Crown Point's Zach Plesac makes the plays to be Times Baseball Player of the Year

2013-06-13T21:00:00Z 2014-06-28T19:56:05Z Crown Point's Zach Plesac makes the plays to be Times Baseball Player of the YearHillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

When Zach Plesac was a freshman, the Crown Point baseball coaching staff made him a catcher.

He'd never played catcher before. He'd arrive home from practices with his arms covered in bruises from blocking balls pitched in the dirt.

"I think that truly helped me become a better pitcher," Plesac said. "It taught me where the spots were to throw the ball, where to put the ball at specific points in the count. At the time, that stunk because I took a beating.

"It definitely toughened me up a lot."

That was his only foray as a backstop, for the Bulldogs or any team. His real talent was elsewhere in the field: on the mound and at shortstop. 

"He's one of the best defensive players we've ever had," Crown Point coach Steve Strayer said. "He was great on the mound, but when (his twin brother) Ronnie was throwing for us, that was great, because that means Zach was at shortstop. We liked that combination."

By his sophomore season, Plesac was moved to the infield, playing on the varsity team at third base. He was close enough to his best position he could almost taste it.

His defensive prowess as well as his dominance on the mound made him The Times baseball Player of the Year for 2013.

Strayer said he lost count of all the defensive plays that Plesac made that the dugout marveled at. Whether it was a diving catch and a double-play throw from the ground, or a throw from the back of the infield, he's sure it will be a while before he sees them again.

"In the sectional, he called off the third baseman on a ball that should have been the third baseman's ball, he shouldn't have called that off, but he made the play, threw the ball and it was pretty outstanding," Strayer said. "I thought, 'wow, we won't make that play next year.' That's how good he is, it will take a while before we get someone else to make that play is what I'm thinking."

Plesac said that besides the acrobatics and "oohs" from the crowd, there's nothing different between a routine play and a diving catch. He was credited with 26 putouts and a team-high 59 assists this season.

"Not all balls you play are equally routine, but they're all equally important," Plesac said. "You have to get the tag to first base at first base.

"You have to have that fire of not letting any ball get past you. You take it off the chest if you have to."

He would stay as long as the coaches would let him practice fielding hit after hit off the fungo bat until he was told to go home.

"He stood out in the field at practice, and he always wanted that play to be right on the edge" Strayer said. "He wanted to be challenged out there. That was his makeup, his competitive makeup is what drove him to be such a good defensive player."

As a pitcher, Plesac was 5-2 with three saves, a 1.25 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. He'll be at Ball State in the fall, where he said he's been told he'll have the opportunity to play both positions.

"I think teams want him No. 1 for his pitching, because of what he can do," Strayer said. "But what he can do with a glove, to have a guy like that sitting on the bench, you have to utilize that."

Plesac's skills are so in demand that he's spending the summer in Cincinnati, playing for the Midland Redskins, a Connie Mack team with a roster of players from around the country.

He was contacted by the team late in the season and is staying with a host family while he pitches for the Redskins in tournaments in Atlanta and Murfreesboro, Tenn.

"My parents were bummed I'd be gone all summer," Plesac said. "I'll be gone until Aug. 10, and then go to college. They want me to do big things, so they understand. Going into college this is a great opportunity for me."

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