Baseball’s power hitting duo of senior utility player Dom D’Alessandro and junior shortstop Nate Fassnacht has served as the heart of GW’s offense this season.
D’Alessandro and Fassnacht rank near the top of the Colonials’ (30–24 11–13 A-10) leaderboard in batting average, hits, runs, walks, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Their offensive prowess helped elevate the team to 30 wins this season.
“I’ve just focused on playing to win, playing for the team and then good things will happen,” D’Alessandro said. “Sometimes people find themselves only caring about how they do but for me, I’ve learned this last year to do what the team needs and then everything will fall into place.”
The duo has also achieved individual successes, charging straight into the Atlantic 10 top-five in on-base percentage, batting average, home runs, runs batted in, runs and slugging percentage.
D’Alessandro’s .423 batting average leads the conference and ranks fifth among all NCAA baseball players. He also hit a conference-leading 13 bombs this year. Fassnacht is tied for first in RBI and has circled the bases a conference-high 59 times, tying freshman outfielder Cade Fergus.
D’Alessandro said a factor in his success this season has been improved discipline at the plate, which has allowed him to walk 13 more times and strike out six fewer times than he did last season.
“I’ve really worked on getting my pitch and not swinging on any bad pitches that I wasn’t prepared to hit,” D’Alessandro said.
As upperclassmen, Fassnacht and D’Alessandro provided experience and leadership on a team with nine freshmen. D’Alessandro said he and Fassnacht assumed the responsibility of being role models to the younger players.
“Nate is not the most vocal leader, he’s more of a lead-by-example kind of kid,” D’Alessandro said. “He has taken on that role of leading by example and a lot of the younger guys look up to him.”
Both players turned in career performances, demonstrating growth in power and pitch selection. Both D’Alessandro’s and Fassnacht’s batting averages are nearly a .1 jump from last season. D’Alessandro’s .318 batting average spiked to .423, and Fassnacht’s batting average jumped from .277 to .372.
Fassnacht said an adjusted mental approach at the plate was a game changer in his performance this season. He said he has begun to hold off on hitting fastball pitches, which has helped him improve his batting average.
“I changed my thought process when I’m at the plate and let myself be more aggressive,” Fassnacht said.
Fassnacht said he and D’Alessandro have been pushing each other forward throughout the season, both benefiting from the healthy competition between teammates.
“We egg each other on,” Fassnacht said. “There’s definitely an internal competition, we have a different relationship than the other players because of our offensive success this season.”
The duo made a one-two punch in the lineup as Fassnacht and D’Alessandro were typically slotted third and fourth, respectively. The two players combined for 172 of the Colonials’ 565 hits this season and about a third of the squad’s RBI.
On the team’s senior day, Fassnacht was honored as the most valuable player of the season. Head coach Gregg Ritchie said that it was nearly impossible to choose between the two players.
“I was pulling hair out over MVP, it was very difficult,” Ritchie said. “Dom and him were neck and neck. If there was a time to give out co-MVPs, that would have been it.”
Despite winning 30 games for the third consecutive year and leading in offensive categories, the Colonials did not make the A-10 tournament. The squad ended the year ranked No. 9 in the conference, just outside the top-eight bubble.
The team’s 11-13 A-10 record was the first losing conference record since 2014. The Colonials’ conference play has been “frustrating,” D’Alessandro said, because his team is better than its position in the standings.
“We had a ton of talent this year but I did know it was going to be tough to win conference because in conference games, anything can happen,” he said. “We have a lot of young guys who just don’t have too much experience, so I knew it was going to be a challenge, but I definitely think we were better than what we played to in the rankings.”