Pitman High's 2015 lefty-ace-pitcher, Zach Wichman, will have his catcher with him in college—at least for two years.
Coleton Horner and Wichman have both decided to attend Merced College and help a Blue Devil team that comes off a 23-15 overall posting this past season.
“I felt like Merced was the best place to be for me because it’s an opportunity to play a lot and develop as a ball player,” Horner said. “It’s definitely nice to have someone I know and a close friend going to the same school as me too.”
“Coach Devine really made a push for me and he is a lefty pitching coach, which helps me,” said Wichman. “So that felt like a comfortable atmosphere and I have played with some guys on the roster already as well and Coleton going makes it more of a good place for me.”
This past year, the Blue Devil team rostered eight players from Turlock and Pitman High, six of which are set to return for the upcoming season.
Merced College placed second in league with a 16-8 record as the team made the postseason but eventually lost in the first round to San Mateo in back-to-back games.
Coming off a sensational senior campaign, Wichman won the player of the year honors in the Central California Conference and was consistently one of the best pitchers in the league, leading a Pride squad that went a league best 13-2 and 24-7 overall.
Wichman also picked up seven of those team wins in 58 innings pitched and accumulated an ERA of 1.69, while batting .350 for the year.
“I did well my last year, but my goals are absolutely to get bigger, stronger and I am working on getting my velocity up, so at the start of the season I can be at the level of college pitching,” Wichman said.
Horner was one of the steadiest hitters in the Pride lineup over the last two seasons. As a junior he went on a unique 37-game hitting streak while finishing with a batting average of .468. As a senior, Horner batted .349 with 17 RBI and caught all 31 games.
“I have grown a lot between my first year of varsity to now. My skills as a catcher and hitter have developed quite a bit. But I have a lot to learn. There's always room to get better,” Horner said.
Over the years Horner had been training nonstop with his dad, Bill, when he wasn't at practice getting advice and help from Pitman head coach John Acha.
His ability to stay consistent helped him succeed over the last two years and although he was not recruited by many schools, the Blue Devils took a big interest in the local kid from Pitman.
“I did not get recruited by anybody else, but I did not give up,” said Horner. “I also feel like Merced is my best fit because they have a good weight-lifting and conditioning program so they will definitely get me in shape before the season and I believe I can play behind the dish consistently if I work hard.”
Horner also hopes to continue his career in baseball at a four-year university.
“My plan is on playing in college and to continue my baseball career as far as I can and have fun and learn a lot in the process,” he added. “I am just anxious to start my college career and I believe I can succeed at the next level.”
Wichman will be competing at the Merced County and Stanislaus County All-Star game which is being played at Merced College at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.