Zalegowski Hopes His Strong Fall Season Leads to an Even Better Spring
Senior Nate Zalegowski has yet to play an inning of varsity baseball at North Haven High School, but that isn’t deterring him from pursuing his passion. After pitching for the Indians’ JV team and North Haven’s Senior Legion baseball team earlier this year, Nate was lights out on the mound for the North Haven Maroon fall ball squad, which is affiliated with the American Legion program. Nate helped the club notch a record of 20-3 and advance all the way to the championship game of its playoff tournament this fall.
“My junior year, I pitched a lot more [for JV] than sophomore year. I never played a varsity inning yet, never even made the varsity team. It drives me,” Nate says. “To get on that mound and start as a senior who hasn’t seen a varsity inning yet, it’s a goal, because I feel as though I’m more than ready.”
Nate has been playing baseball for as long as he can remember, although he didn’t start pitching until the 7th grade. Once he took the hill, Nate fell in love with being in control of the game.
“Whenever you have the ball on the mound, you have the game in your hand. Beside the catcher, you’re the captain on the field,” says Nate, who also plays first base. “You have control of the game, because you set the mentality.”
Nate says he has somewhat of an unorthodox style on the mound and feels that’s one of his biggest assets when it comes to retiring batters. Nate’s repertoire features a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a curveball, and a changeup.
“A lot of my teammates said I have the weirdest arm rotation. It’s kind of like a sidearm delivery,” Nate says. “My ball likes to tail into righties. I would say that’s my biggest weapon.”
Tim Binkoski was Nate’s head coach with both his Legion and fall ball squads this year. Binkoski says that one of Nate’s greatest strengths is the ability to effectively mix up the pitches in his arsenal.
“He’s got good deviation between his fastball speed and his changeup, and he does a good job of locating his fastball in the zone, so it makes it harder for hitters to pick up his change. He also does a really good job of keeping that down,” says Binkoski. “He’s worked hard this year to develop an out pitch with a breaking ball, so when he’s on and has all three in command, he’s able to set them up from there.”
Binkoski gave Nate the nod to start when North Haven faced Newtown with the title on the line in the final of its fall league playoffs. Nate struggled through the first inning, but escaped unscathed, and went on to toss five scoreless frames before North Haven lost 1-0 in extra innings. He finished the campaign with two wins and a 2.85 earned-run average in 39.1 innings pitched.
“That game was one for the record books for me. It was all about calming my nerves,” Nate says. “I threw so many pitches [in the first inning], and a lot of them were balls, but after not letting anybody score, I settled in and kept my focus.”
Nate feels that pitching in a pressure-packed situation like that helped him prepare for what life on the high-school mound might entail. It won’t be long for Nate will get his chance to see if he can solidify a spot in North Haven’s varsity ranks.
“That game was a varsity game for me. It’s probably what high school will look like,” he says. “That game prepared me for what I’m going to be seeing if I pitch varsity. I’ll be seeing those big lefties and righties.”