(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
Just last year, Sebastian Zawada was playing college baseball at South Mountain Community College, a little known school in Phoenix.
Fast forward a year and the Tucson native is now playing at a school located a mere eight miles away, Arizona State University. Not only has he moved up to the NCAA level, but he finds himself as a regular in the lineup and has carved out quite the niche as a power bat and the primary designated hitter for head coach Tracy Smith.
Despite his quick success at ASU, baseball wasn’t always in the cards for Zawada. He went the Junior College route because he was unsure whether he was going to continue to pursue baseball or move on.
“I wanted to go to college and pursue personal training and health and nutrition. My dad told me to give baseball a chance again.”
The adjustment was rough at first for him, but growing comfortable in his own skin was a huge key to his success.
“There were times where baseball didn’t seem right,” he said. “But giving it the chance I did, it turned out to be quite the opposite.”
The decision for Zawada to continue his baseball career at the next level paid off. He put up video game numbers in his second season at South Mountain, hitting .380 with 19 home runs. He earned both 1st team All-Conference and All-Region honors.
Zawada’s development went smoothly at SMCC, which he credits not only to his head coach Todd Eastin, but also to himself, for learning how to properly use the tools that he has.
His success in his first two years let to the chance to play at the NCAA level. The close proximity to ASU and baseball history at the school made it an easy decision for Zawada to become a Sun Devil.
“If you are a baseball guy, everyone knows what a Sun Devil is and what it means to be one, so there wasn’t much of a choice,” he said.
The concept of using the tools at his disposal properly has carried over to the NCAA level. With the mindset that he is a power hitter, Zawada has emerged as the most feared power hitter in the lineup. He currently leads the Sun Devils with four home runs and is third on the team in slugging percentage.
“That’s why we brought him here,” Smith said. “He’s got power.”
While it seems like he would have had to make a variety of adjustments playing at an advanced level, Zawada said he did not change much and that most of his adjustments were just mental and trusting his stuff.
He did add that the biggest difference is something that he noticed quickly, which lies within the pitching that he is facing.
“You are always going to have a better second pitch at this level,” he said. “Guys are only able to throw a fastball in JuCo, they may not be able to locate their offspeed, but these guys can locate their offspeed.”
It’s been a group effort in getting Zawada prepared for his first season at ASU. He credits everyone from the coaches down in being instrumental to his success.
The strong power in the short time he has been with the Sun Devils and the obvious potential for more growth in the future makes every at-bat of his a must-watch.