Baseball: Notre Dame’s Koziol works on his options
Notre Dame batter Dion Ursino, representing the ESCC, takes a cut against a North Surburban Conference pitcher during the Harvey Foster Stevenson Showcase. | Ruthie Hauge~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 23, 2012 6:13AM
In the latter stages of the Notre Dame baseball team’s season, Dons coach Nelson Gord adopted a strategy used by few coaches around the country.
He employed seven pitchers who each worked one inning during Notre Dame’s final four games. The goal was to allow Notre Dame’s pitchers to attack the batter, while preventing opponents from getting comfortable at the plate.
This plan helped the Dons advance to the Grayslake Central regional final, and also aided senior pitcher Zach Koziol as he prepared for the Harvey Foster Showcase at Stevenson, where pitchers threw only one inning.
“If I go out there thinking every inning’s the same, one inning at a time, it’s a little easier,” said Koziol.
With more than 100 college scouts expected to attend, the setting was particularly stressful for incoming seniors who want to play baseball in college. There was a brief opportunity to catch the eye of the college scouts. Moreover, lineups were comprised of the best hitters from each conference’s 2013 class.
Koziol felt particularly nervous on the first day of the showcase. To make matters worse, the Notre Dame senior on Friday had to wait until the ninth inning to pitch. He was left to sit and think about what would happen, but pitched well when it came time to perform.
Over the course of two days, Koziol allowed one hit and didn’t surrender any runs for the East Suburban Catholic’s team.
“I was a little nervous, on the first day especially,” said Koziol, who pitched the first inning in Saturday’s game. “But I just went out there and threw the ball just how I did this whole season — hit my spots and all that.”
Notre Dame teammates Dion Ursino and Danny Hyde were also selected for the game, giving Koziol at least two familiar faces among the throng.
“I’m used to showcases,” Koziol said. “This is my first one this year. Last year I did a few at some colleges.”
Many of his teammates from the Schaumburg Seminoles were there as well.
Koziol is spending part of his summer with the Seminoles. He hopes to improve his baseball skills and draw increased exposure from college scouts.
He also is working at becoming more than just a pitcher for Notre Dame next season. Koziol’s goal is to play the outfield when he’s not pitching and to add another pitch to his repertoire.
“Next year I’m hoping to play right field, along with starting pitching,” Koziol said. “I’ve been working this summer on outfield, hitting and trying to get a couple more pitches, too — specifically a slider, I was thinking.”