Zwolenik seeing a bigger role
As a sophomore, Evan Zwolenik threw 16.1 innings for Northampton in a limited role.
However, the lefthander picked up an important, late-season victory over Liberty, helping the Kids keep pace to qualify for districts.
This season, Zwolenik would be cast in a bigger role. And the junior certainly has been a headliner.
Zwolenik recently tossed a complete-game, eight-inning, six-hitter in the Kids’ 3-2 win over Nazareth, marking their seventh straight victory (7-2).
With the win, Zwolenik raised his season to 2-0 with a 1.09 ERA and 24 strikeouts, 22 hits, and two walks over a team-high 25.2 innings.
“I felt really good,” said Zwolenik. “My curveball was working and I didn’t have trouble locating my fastball. We all have been playing with a lot of confidence and we believed we were going to win this game.
“Nazareth is a rivalry for us, and it was a big win.”
Head coach Mick Sugra has had high aspirations for Zwolenik all season.
“Evan (Zwolenik) is a competitor,” he said. “He always wants the ball, and he does the little things to prepare himself and take care of his arm. Evan is an emotional guy and shows it.
“He’s always full of positive energy and he’s a great teammate.”
Zwolenik sees the victory over Liberty last year as a game-changer for him.
“I think it helped me that I was more looked down upon as a sophomore,” he said. “It helped me get motivated.
“But when they gave me the ball against Liberty last year, it really helped my confidence. That helped make this year a lot easier.”
Zwolenik’s main pitch is his curveball, but he had spent time working on a change-up.
“My curveball and change-up have been my go-to pitches,” he said. “They have been working for me.”
When he was younger, Zwolenik admitted playing every sport. Pitching quickly became his forte.
“I remember being a pitcher when I was seven and I thought that was pretty cool,” he said. “When I was nine, I pitched a one-hitter in a tournament. I knew if I kept working at it, I would have a future with pitching.
“It kept me motivated to get better.”
Zwolenik also began his pitching career through the help of his father, Todd, who began it all in the backyard. His mother, Robin, and older brother, Ryan, a 2014 NHS graduate track standout, also have been there for him.
“My dad would have me field ground balls off the mound and work on pickoff plays as well as have my throw,” he said. “My mom would take me anywhere I had a game she still does. All of them have helped me tremendously along the way.”
As well as his own enthusiastic manner, Zwolenik has high hopes for his team. The Kids have been considered one of the area’s surprise teams this spring.
However, it’s not a surprise to Zwolenik and his team.
“We have a very underrated pitching staff and a very solid team,” he said. “Everything is going well and we have high expectations for the remainder of the season.
“My confidence level is high, but I am not totally satisfied yet. I know I can throw better, and I won’t be satisfied until we get a district title.”