Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
When Tye Chastain was seven years old, he stepped up to the plate and swung the bat hard enough to send the baseball soaring into the outfield. That is when his mother April knew he was going to be a baseball player.
“At that moment, we just knew baseball was going to be his sport,” said April.
Tye grew up in the dugout, playing little league, travel ball, summer leagues, and being part of lineups that won state championships and national titles. After graduating from Franklin High School, Tye enrolled in UNC Asheville to play collegiate baseball. Even after being a standout player from an early age, April said she was still overjoyed when Tye was named to the 2020 Futures Collegiate Baseball League roster for the North Shore Navigators.
“To be honest, I was kind of sad at first — it means he won’t be home for the summer,” joked April. “But it really is such an incredible honor. We are so proud of him and all of the hard work he has done to make it to this point.”
Each franchise in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) is made up of elite collegiate athletes competing in a minor league style format to gain experience and exposure to major league scouts.
Tye is excited to be playing for the Navigators this summer and is looking forward to the opportunity to further his career.
“When my coach texted me and told me that I would be playing for the North Shore Navigators, I was in shock to realize I would be playing ball in Massachusetts. My reaction to being selected to the summer league was absolute excitement and I was really nervous. It’s about 15 hours from home. I’ve never been that far away from family and friends. A plus is that one of my teammates is on the same team.”
Tye will be joined by his UNC Asheville teammate, Drew Bristow.
The 6-foot-1, 208-pound Chastain joined the Asheville program from Franklin High School where he was a two-time Mountain Six Conference Player of the Year and earned three all-conference and two All-Western North Carolina honors. He finished his high school career with a .396 average, 112 hits and 91 RBIs. As a senior at FHS, he hit .413 with five homers and drove in 28. He was also a three-year letter-winner in basketball.
“Tye being selected for the Baseball League is a great honor. There are very few players that get this opportunity,” said Jay Brooks, who served as the FHS Athletic Director while Tye played for the Panthers. “He has worked extremely hard on his skills to make this opportunity a reality. Franklin High School is very proud of him. He is going to do great.”
April said that her husband Tracy is already planning the couple’s summer in Massachusetts.
“Tracy is getting ready to retire from the Franklin Police Department, so he is excited to be planning how he is going to spend his free time this summer up North watching Tye play ball,” she said.
While April and Tracy plan to make the trip to Fraser Field to watch Tye take the field, Tye will be matched with a host family during the season, where he will be staying.
Tye’s love for the sport started early on, and despite being a multi-sport athlete, baseball has always been his first love.
“The thing I love most about baseball is that it was the first sport that I played when I was younger,” said Tye. “It felt natural to play. I played basketball and football as well but I was way better at baseball. It was so much more fun to play baseball than all the other sports.”
Tye is gearing up for his regular season with UNCA, where he will be traveling to places around the country he has never been. It isn’t all fun for Tye — he said that while he is grateful for the opportunity to play collegiate ball, he knows that baseball is giving him the opportunity to continue his education. “
“I am focusing on my general education classes right now, so I can get them out of the way,” he said. “Then I am thinking about getting into either health and wellness or business management.”
The Navs are now preparing for the 13th season of collegiate ball at Fraser Field and their ninth in the Futures League. The 2020 opener is scheduled for Wednesday, May 27.