12/20/2013 2:31 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – December 20, 2013 – The Northwest Indiana Oilmen, a team that has reached the league championship series back-to-back seasons, has added a player with a winning background of his own. Jason Gasser, who helped Mount Carmel to state championships in both football and baseball last year, will roam the Oil City Stadium outfield in 2014.
Gasser, a freshman at Northern Illinois University, singled in Jerry Houston, who spent last summer with the Southland Vikings of the Midwest Collegiate League, for the first run of the Class 4A IHSA State Championship last season. That tally proved to be the difference in the game.
“My number one high school baseball memory is definitely winning state,” Gasser said. “That’s a dream of any high school baseball player. I knew from the beginning of the season that we had a really talented team, and I knew if we could put this all together we had a shot to win it all.”
Gasser turned in a .425 batting average, 33 runs batted in and three home runs as a senior at Mount Carmel.
“He’s one heck of an athlete; he truly is,” NIU coach Ed Mathey said. “He was college strong before he even got here. He’s got great foot speed and he’s got a great first step.”
Mathey would like to see Gasser work on contact frequency and smoothing out his swing over the course of his freshman season. Gasser said he would like to improve his ability to hit off speed pitches. Defensively, boosting arm strength and accuracy will be at the top of his priority list.
“He’s got a great work ethic,” Mathey said. “He comes in every day ready to get better and improve. He’s one heck of a competitor. Base stealing is something that some guys have trouble adjusting to and he’s got a pretty good handle on that right now.”
Gasser, who resides in Dyer, elected to play for the Oilmen partially because it provides him with an opportunity to stay home during his first summer of college. Putting on the gold and white Oilmen uniform will also give him the chance to continue the winning ways that he grew accustomed to during his tenure at Mount Carmel.
“They have a really good ball club,” he said. “I know they did pretty well last year and I’m just looking to play with the best of the best.”
The Oilmen roster also includes Portage High School senior Kevin Jones, who has signed his National Letter of Intent to play his college ball at NIU.
“I think you’re going to get two guys that really want to win baseball games,” Mathey said. “They do the work to win baseball games. When they’re out there on the field, it’s no secret that that’s where they want to be.”
In addition to a state championship ring and a college scholarship, Gasser’s senior season also earned him the 2013 Chicago Sun-Times Baseball Player of the Year and 2013 Times Illinois Player of the Year distinctions. Oilmen manager Justin Huisman is also a former Times Illinois Player of the Year, having won the award in 1997 during his high school days at Thornwood.
Mathey hopes to continue the relationship between the Huskies and Oilmen in the years to come.
“I think it’s a good organization,” Mathey said. “I’ve known the coaching staff for a long time, being from the same part of the south suburbs as they’re from originally. The fact that Jason and Kevin are both guys from the region out there is an extra tie-in for them to go out and win some baseball games.”