By David Willis
---- — Throughout the preseason, Tim Awiszus couldn’t seem to find his groove. That sweet swing simply felt off.
“Before the (regular) season started, I couldn’t seem to get the barrel of the bat on the ball,” Awiszus said. “But in the season-opener, I really got one on the sweet spot of the bat and it flew. That’s when I started feeling good.”
Starting with that at bat, Awiszus seems to have found that swing in a big way. A year after fighting tooth and nail to earn a place on the varsity roster, Awiszus has begun his senior season with the Andover High baseball team in outstanding fashion.
The outfielder entered the week hitting a whopping .500 with eight RBIs, helping the Golden Warriors to a 4-1 start.
“I feel like I am seeing the ball pretty well and am off to a good start,” Awiszus said. “There is no feeling better than hitting the baseball and really helping out the team.”
Growing up in Andover as a star infielder for the Little League and Babe Ruth programs, Awiszus dreamed of playing baseball for the Golden Warriors.
After spending his first high school season with the freshman team and his sophomore year on JV, Awiszus set his eyes on making the varsity squad a season ago.
But on a team filled with veteran players, Awiszus faced the challenging task of finding a role to grasp as his own.
“Going into last year, Tim had earned a spot on the varsity team,” Warriors coach Dan Grams said. “But it looked like he might not see much playing time. Tim came to me and said, ‘Coach, I just want to play. I will play anywhere on the field.’”
So the veteran coach had some advice for his young player.
“Coach Grams told me to have every glove in my bag when I came to the field and be ready to play anywhere,” Awiszus said. “I just wanted to get into the lineup anyway I could.
“I had always played the infield growing up, first as a shortstop then third baseman. But toward the end of my sophomore year, I started to try a little outfield in JV. So last season, I went to the coaches and offered to play the outfield.”
Awiszus did not find his way into the lineup in the opening game of his junior year. But he earned his first career start in Game 2, and has not looked back since.
“I was definitely nervous,” Awiszus said. “Varsity is very different. But in my first game, I had two hits and that’s when I started to believe I could play. My bat was pretty hot early on last year.”
The slugger was more than just hot to start his varsity career, he was sizzling.
Awiszus recorded at least one hit in each of his first 12 games with the Golden Warriors, hitting a scorching .450 (13 for 29) over that stretch. He recorded four multi-hit games, including a 3-for-3 night, and drove in three RBIs in three different contests.
“The team welcomed me, and it made it easier because I was producing well,” he said. “And I fell in love with playing the outfield. After just a few games, I really enjoyed it.”
Awiszus finished his junior season with an impressive .307 average with 13 RBIs and five runs scored.
He then set to work preparing for his senior season, training with teammates including fellow outfielder Jack Cox, refining his swing and lifting weights.
Whatever he did in the offseason, including standing out for the golf team, it has certainly worked.
Awiszus headed into school vacation week hitting the outstanding .500 exactly (10 for 20), with eight RBIs and six runs. He has at least two hits in all but one game, including a four-hit day against Haverhill, and three RBIs in each of his last two contests.
“I feel like I am a power hitter,” Awiszus said. “I like to hit to the gaps. I look for the fastball early in the count, something I can drive. The, if we get deep in the count I look for a breaking ball I can take to the opposite field.”
His coach is thrilled with the star’s progress, not just as a hitter but also as an outfielder and a leader.
“He is swinging the bat very well and is such a good hitter,” Grams said. “But he has also become a very good outfielder. He made one of the best catches I have ever seen in the preseason. And even though he isn’t a captain, he is one of our best leaders.”
In the fall, Awiszus will be attending Florida Gulf Coast College, where he hopes to be a walk-on for the baseball team. But first, he wants to end his high school season with a bang.
“We want to start by winning the MVC title,” he said. “Then we want to make a run in the tournament. We can all hit the ball, and we can pitch. We believe.”