Fleischer Produces For Thomas Dale
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Apr 21, 2014, 09:49
Collin Fleischer has thrown a shutout and a no-hitter already this season.
CHESTER — Thomas Dale struggled all game long against a tough Varina team during an especially trying week, but the Knights had a chance in the top of the 7th inning. Trailing by three and with two runners on base, they were confident that they would draw closer because of the player stepping into the box.
Senior Collin Fleischer slowly hit the the barrel of his bat to the plate, dug in his right-foot and glared back at the Blue Devils' pitcher with cruel intentions in his mind. Fleischer eyed the pitcher as he finished his delivery, lifted his front leg and uncorked a powerful swing while connecting the baseball with the barrel of his bat.
The fastball traveled deep down the left-field line, but Fleischer was a bit too early as he pulled it foul. Yet, the senior never panicked or showed any emotion after his narrowly missing a game-tying home run. Instead, he stepped right back into the box and attacked the very next pitch in the same exact way — only this time he had timed it perfectly.
Fleischer, never one to show too much emotion on the diamond because of the respect he has for the game and his opponents, couldn't help but exude joy as he raised his right-arm into the air as he watched his blast sail over the fence to tie the game and give his team new life. Although the Knights would go on to lose on a suicide squeeze in the bottom half of the inning, his blast exhibited the type of impact the third baseman can have on a game.
"I felt confident in my skills and I just didn't want us to lose. I wasn't trying to do anything special, I was just trying to get on base," he said of the at-bat. "You feel good for the team to tie the game ... Unfortunately, it didn't work out, but it feels good to give everyone else a chance to win the game."
It's that humble nature which makes Fleischer standout in a sports world dominated by those who seek the attention. Instead of basking in the moment of hitting a game-tying home run, the senior chose instead to talk about the impact it had for his teammates.
It's of little doubt this is one of the many reasons the Virginia Military Institute offered Fleischer a Division I scholarship for baseball which he signed during the Fall. The Thomas Dale standout already knows what major he intends to study — business — and is prepared for the difficulties in making the transition from high school and travel ball into a D-1 program.
Fleischer knows there will be adjustments to be made and rough patches to come, but he has never been one to shy away from a challenging situation, especially one which has helped him live out one of his dreams in playing baseball after high school.
"I try to stay humble, so when I received my offer it was the first time I ever thought I could possibly play in college," he explained. "It was a dream come true to hopefully get four more years to get better ... I know it's going to be hard, but in the end it will be what's best for me. It's Division I baseball and after that I'll have a good degree."
Added Thomas Dale manager Chris Marshall of his signing back in November, "I know how hard he’s worked and he’s earned it. Very versatile player for us, he’s been an all-district player for his career, obviously a tremendous player. To be honest, he’s probably one of the best hitters I’ve ever coached.”
Yet, that would be only part of the way he impacts the Knights on the field.
Fleischer is also one of the team's core starting pitchers who is able to shutdown opponents seemingly at will. Fleischer started his 2014 campaign with a complete-game effort against Hopewell in which the Blue Devils never threatened in a 14-0 defeat.
The senior was in complete command throughout the game, twirling five innings while striking out seven and allowing just two hits on the night. However, Fleischer would out-do himself against Meadowbrook after he fired a no-hitter to get Thomas Dale back into the win column as they headed into Spring Break on a two-game win-streak.
For his part, Fleischer said he didn't focus on not allowing a hit, but relished the chance to help his teammates earn the win.
"I just took it one inning at a time and it just went the right way for me, I guess," he said."
And it seems that a lot is now going the way of the Knights and Fleischer following the bumpy start to the season.
Thomas Dale has shown signs of possessing the dangerous offense which many predicted after last season's Regional Tournament appearance for the first time since 2009 while the pitching staff has re-established themselves behind the pitching of Tommy Barron, Fleischer and Nathan Eaton.
However, for all the humbleness Fleischer exudes, his middle-of-the-order bat is a key piece to the Knights' success. The senior has been nothing, but consistent all season long while hitting line drives all over the field and yet he is never satisfied.
"I expect a lot out of myself," he said. "I try to get out and work every single day to do something productive."
It's that work-ethic which has directly led to game-tying home runs, no-hitters and helped Thomas Dale win some critical games and become a force in the newly formed Conference 3 while surely setting the stage for a successful college career as well.