Kasparie sees ‘a lot of opportunity’ to grow his game with Purdue Fort Wayne baseball program


John Wood Community College center fielder Ben Kasparie, a Quincy Notre Dame graduate, recently signed with Purdue Fort Wayne, giving the Trail Blazers a pair of NCAA Division I signees. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Engage Ben Kasparie in a conversation about baseball if you get the chance.

What you will discover is a player whose appreciation for the craft is as strong as his spirit to compete.

“A swing is like painting a picture,” said Kasparie, a graduate of Quincy Notre Dame and John Wood Community College who recently committed to play baseball at NCAA Division I Purdue Fort Wayne. “It’s a work of art. When you watch the pro baseball players swing a bat, there’s a lot of similarities. You have to get those similarities down.

“There are differences in your stance and everything like that, but when it comes down to contact with that ball, there is an outline of a way to get pretty good contact on that ball.”

His ability to make contact, create chaos on the basepaths with his speed and make defensive plays from gap-to-gap in center field is why D-I programs showed an interest in the all-region Gold Glove outfielder.

But it was the Purdue Fort Wayne’s needs and Kasparie’s wants that matched perfectly that ultimately led to him deciding to head to the Horizon League school.

Kasparie became the eight JWCC sophomore to land a spot with a four-year college program and the second to ink a scholarship at a Division I school. Payton Mansfield previously signed with Jacksonville State.

“I was talking to some other teams and got some offers, but not really from places I wanted to go but somewhere I would settle down and go to if need be,” Kasparie said. “Purdue Fort Wayne was the right fit. They play the same kind of baseball that I like to play. They do a lot of things I’ve already been doing at John Wood and that Coach (Adam) Hightower teaches.”

They met his series of wants, which came down to three things.

One, Kasparie wanted to play at the highest level possible.

“I believe I can compete at any level if I get the chance,” he said.

Two, Kasparie wanted a program that would help him grow as a player.

“Every player’s dream is to get drafted,” he said. “If you go to a place where you feel you can get better and you feel motivated to get better, it’s the right fit. They have a need for me, so I’m motivated to fulfill their needs.”

Three, Kasparie wanted to attend a high-quality academic institution and graduate with a worthwhile degree.

“If you graduate from Purdue Fort Wayne, your diploma says ‘Purdue University,’” Kasparie said. “That’s pretty cool right there. They sold me on that, too.”

A bigger selling point was the chance to have an impact on the diamond.

Last spring, Kasparie hit .294 in earning honorable mention All-Mid-West Athletic Conference honors. He stole 34 bases and was caught stealing only once. He made only two errors in 130 chances in center field to earn the Gold Glove honor.

More importantly, he used his time at JWCC to improve his game in every aspect.

“I say I was a lot better of a football player than I was a baseball player two years ago,” Kasparie said. “My dad and I have talked about it for years that football is tough on the body and there is more opportunity in baseball.”

That opportunity came through a series of phone conversations in mid-June with members of the Purdue Fort Wayne coaching staff. Kasparie had been in contact with them during the spring, but the interest seemed to have waned until one day while he was doing construction.

“I got a phone call in the middle of work and I was like, ‘Hello?’” Kasparie said.

It turned out to be Fort Wayne assistant coach Justin Huff.

“He told me they were looking into me and really liked what I had to offer,” Kasparie said. “I was like, ‘Awesome.’”

Later the same week, Mastodons assistant Brent McNeil called and the conversation kept going. It went from interest to applying for admissions to talking about financial aid and scholarship money.

“They offered in the afternoon and I committed in the evening,” Kasparie said. “I was ready to go. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.”

The Mastodons graduated 15 players, opening the door for new players to make an impact.

“A lot of opportunity,” Kasparie said. “That’s what they keep telling me.”

An opportunity is all he needs.

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