Zerrusen signing

Tony Zerrusen (seated center) signs a letter of intent to play baseball for Lake Land College. He is flanked by his parents Kris and Dave Zerrusen. Standing are, left to right, Teutopolis High School Coach Justin Fleener and former Lake Land College coach Jim Jarrett.

TEUTOPOLIS — Tony Zerrusen has his mind on basketball at this point in the season, but the Teutopolis High School senior will be entering his final year on the baseball team during the spring season.

After graduating, Zerrusen will go on with his baseball career after signing a letter of intent with Lake Land College.

"I like the coaching staff, the facilities as well as the idea of being able to earn a spot in the pitching rotation," said Zerrusen, the son of Dave and Kris Zerrusen. "Plus, I will still have time to improve with the help of players and coaches that are currently there."

Zerrusen knows he will need to work on several things to compete as a pitcher at the college level.

"Speed and velocity are the main areas of improvement, but also being able to work both sides of the plate," said Zerrusen. "My strengths include my ability to mix up my pitches, while pitching for contact and not trying to strike every batter out."

Zerrusen was named National Trail All-Conference honorable mention as a junior and All-Conference as a senior along with being named Illinois Basketball Coaches Association All-State.

"Tony is a winner and comes from a winning program," said Jim Jarrett, who has retired from Lake Land College as the baseball coach, but still recruited Zerrusen. "Tony is a competitor and a hard worker. He can come in and compete for a starting position on the pitching staff and as a position player. He is very athletic and comes from an athletic family."

Zerrusen will major in finance.

"As a player Tony is very competitive," said T-town Coach Justin Fleener. "When he is on the mound, he gives us a shot at winning. He has played outfield, first base and pitched. He is also one of the top hitters on the team the last two years.

"His strength is his ability to get batters to make outs. His fastball has enough pop to keep most high school hitters off balance. He locates his pitches pretty well and he has good off-speed stuff to be effective.

"To be effective at the college level he will need to be even more accurate with his pitches. He will not be able to leave his fastball out over the plate at the college level. He will need to have better off-speed pitches (changeup, or any pitch that will keep batters off balance). He realizes he will need to get better to have success, that is what has made him a good high school baseball player and he has worked to make himself better.

"As for hitting, his swing will need to get shorter and quicker. Pitchers will throw harder and have better 'stuff'."

Zerrusen had a 3-0 pitching record in the fall and last spring was 9-3. He averaged .381 batting in the fall when the Wooden Shoes went 23-0 and .439 in the spring when the team finished with a 19-9 record.

"All one would have to do is look at his statistics and see how he has contributed to the team," said Fleener. "A .423 batting average, a 1.45 ERA, a 4 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. But I believe that Tony wants to win.

"He wants to be on a team that wins most important above all else. He wants to succeed, so the team succeeds. This was very evident to me this fall on the day of the NTC championship game. Tony was injured during batting practice and went to the doctor to get checked out. He was scheduled to be the starting pitcher, but he was not back from the doctor's office yet, so Clint Lustig stepped up and assumed the starting pitcher role.

"Tony arrived about the second inning and was instantly getting loose. I was going to substitute Tony to hit for Clint about the fourth inning, but Tony said this was Clint's game to win, he was doing a wonderful job on the mound and he realized "why mess with something that was working."

Now he could have moped around the dugout and pouted about not getting to play, but he didn't. He was up just like everyone else pulling for everybody on the field. The attitude is evident with a lot of players on our team. We have the idea or mindset of team first. The moment was winning the NTC tournament and finishing out an undefeated season and not thinking about himself.

"I think Tony made the right choice by choosing Lake Land. He will fit in fine. He is very coachable and will want to win just as bad as he did here at Teutopolis."

Millie Lange can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 123 or millie.lange@effinghamdailynews.com.

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