Zach Wilbur thrives in team environments.
It’s a mentality built into his nature. The senior pitcher performs his best when working with his teammates toward a common goal. He wants to see his team succeed, and he’ll do whatever he can to push them toward that success.
The pitcher’s eyes never left that goal, and it paid dividends during his senior season. Wilbur threw the second no-hitter of his career in Wellston’s win over Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant in the Division III sectional semifinals in mid-May. It’s a feat that’s been untouched since Rick Maerker set the record for most no-hitters by a pitcher in Wellston history in 1980. Maerker threw two no-hitters during his career, and Wilbur matched him over four decades later.
The Courier got a chance to speak with Wilbur about his two no-hitters, Wellston’s season and what the future holds for the senior pitcher.
Question: Wellston had that really good stretch down the middle of the season, an 11-game win streak. Can you give your thoughts on that?
Wilbur: We were definitely impressing ourselves a lot. I think it kind of helped with the theme we learned that we were better than what we thought we were, and we were ready to win some games.
Q: So was it a matter of surprising yourselves with how well you performed?
W: I think we all knew what we were capable of. It’s just that we started off kind of slow. We dropped one to Athens in our first TVC game of the year, and we all were devastated after that game. After that game I think we all knew we’ve got to take this one game at a time.
Q: You recently tied a school record when you recorded the second no-hitter of your career against Dawson-Bryant. How are you feeling about it now?
W: I definitely feel great right now. The first no-hitter I threw was very special to me because on the school website we have the list of no-hitters. My dad and I used to look at that all the time and I always wanted my name to be up there. The first one felt good, but then coming out in the sectional semis and doing it felt better. I do feel really good right now. My confidence is at a high right now, and it does feel good to know that I got a school record.
Q: Does it feel a little weird tying a school record that stood for 42 years at that point?
W: It does feel crazy. It wasn’t really put into perspective until my grandpa told me that he went to school with that guy. It feels crazy, and I hope for Wellston’s sake that it doesn’t last that long again. I hope someone beats me next year. It just does feel very weird to know that me and a guy who’s way older than me have that record.
Q: That leads a bit into the next question. Is there a kind of method to how you approach game days or days you know you’re going to start?
W: I told Coach Stevens before the year because he would do it some last year, but I like to know at least the night before whether I’m going to start pitching or not. It lets me focus on the game. I like to take a little bit of time out of my day just to think about what I’ve got to do. I just need to hit my spots and trust the defense. I’m also a very superstitious guy. I always drink a Ski and eat a small bag of Doritos before every start.
Q: Is there a particular flavor of Doritos you like to eat before?
W: Definitely the original Nacho Cheese. It’s the best one.
Q: I want to ask about your future. Are you planning on playing anywhere else, or going to college at all?
W: Right now, my plan after high school is that I’m going to pursue a career in firefighting. I just don’t know if (college is) for me. But I’ve been looking into playing Legion ball in the summer and seeing how I feel about it. If I want to go do it, then I may go try out for a team just to see what happens.