Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Valley Grad Adapts on the Run Zalewski Earns a Spot in Kent State's Lineup

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Valley Grad Adapts on the Run Zalewski Earns a Spot in Kent State's Lineup

Article excerpt

Last season, Zarley Zalewski owned the WPIAL.

As a senior shortstop at Valley High School, Zalewski batted .574 with 8 home runs, 36 RBIs, a .693 on-base percentage and a 1.222 slugging percentage.

That, however, was high school.

Making the transition to NCAA Division I baseball, especially at Kent State, was bound to take some time. The Golden Flashes are fresh off a trip to the College World Series, have won four Mid- American Conference titles in a row and finished the season last year ranked No. 6 in the country.

Zalewski's transition lasted for one at-bat.

After sitting out the first game of the season, Zalewski began his collegiate career Feb. 15 against North Carolina Wilmington in Kent State's second game and went 4 for 5 with a double. The Golden Flashes lost the game, 7-6, in 10 innings, but it was an impressive start for a freshman.

"I was nervous when I went up to the plate for my first at-bat and as a result I struck out looking," he said. "I was really nervous. I went up to the plate after that and I just turned it on I guess. I got four hits, I felt pretty good. Not a bad start."

Though the transition from high school to college appeared seamless, it was anything but, Zalewski said.

"Coming straight out of high school into the fall and facing the pitchers we have, it was a tough transition," he said. "I struggled in the fall when I first got up here. Then I got acclimated to hitting and now I'm hitting just fine.

"I feel pretty comfortable that I'm going to go up to the plate and get my job done."

His early outburst at the plate earned him a starting job and Zalewski, a switch-hitter who throws right-handed, made 19 consecutive starts, lifting his batting average to as high as .300. He opened the season at third base, moved to first base for a stretch and is now back at third.

Zalewski has started 36 of the 41 games he has played in this season and is currently batting .268 (34 of 127) with nine multiple- hit games including a 3-for-5 effort against Northern Illinois, two home runs and is fifth on the team in slugging percentage at .339.

Despite playing third base, a position he has seldom played before this season, and first base for the first time, he has committed just four errors. …

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