David S. Driver
"Providing my byline by your deadline"
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September 3, 2008
By David Driver
For the Stafford County Sun
Used with permission
Old Dominion University has annually had one of the top baseball programs in the Colonial Athletic Association, a Division I league that now stretches from Boston to Atlanta.
But that success is not why Zack Miller, a 2008 North Stafford High graduate, decided to join the Monarchs. While he has not ruled out a future in professional baseball, academics are also important to the Stafford County product.
“I would like to be drafted like any baseball player. At the same time I want to get my degree,” said Miller, who had a grade-point average of 3.5 in high school and plans to study computer engineering.
But the right-handed pitcher, whose fast ball has been clocked in the low 90s, certainly picked a good place to hone his skills on the mound.
ODU head coach Jerry Meyers was the pitching coach for Team USA this past summer. The Americans went 24-0 and won the FISU World Championships in the Czech Republic.
The U.S. team posted an ERA of 0.88 and beat Japan 1-0 in 12 innings in the gold medal game. Meyers was the CAA coach of the year in 2006.
ODU was 25-27 overall and 14-14 in the CAA in 2008. Miller was able to watch the Monarchs play in Fairfax against CAA foe George Mason in late March, when ODU won two of three games against the Patriots.
Before Meyers came to ODU the school produced Justin Verlander, now a starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Verlander was 10-14 in his first 28 starts this year.
ODU had four pitchers drafted in June by Major League teams: Dan Hudson (White Sox), Anthony Shalwer (Tigers), Dexter Carter (White Sox) and Ryan Bergh (Phillies).
Miller will be a recruited freshman walk-on when fall practice begins this month. He was the co-district player of the year as a senior at North Stafford, a first-team all-district player in 2008 and a second-team performer as a sophomore.
“He is a pretty mature kid for his age,” said Jim Labrusciano, the head coach at North Stafford. “He is going to have to get stronger. He is a young college freshman.”
Miller was also recruited by Longwood of Virginia and Mount St. Mary’s of Maryland. Marshall Thomason of North Stafford High was a freshman pitcher for The Mount last season.
“To me it was like an education-based decision,” Miller said of deciding on ODU.
Miller is one of three seniors from the North Stafford class of 2008 with college programs this fall. John Tate is at Hampden-Sydney College and Tony Adams is at Christopher Newport, according to Miller.
The 2008 team at Christopher Newport included Joey Martin (North Stafford), Michael Romett (North Stafford) and Josh Hankins (Colonial Forge).
n Not es: Miller played on the same summer league team earlier this year with Sean Sizemore, a freshman on the ODU team in 2008 … Miller’s brother, Ben, is a sophomore at North Stafford and plays baseball … Miller is friends with Andrew Slebonick, who is on the football roster at ODU. Slebonick went to North
Stafford and his brother, Patrick, is on the football team at Virginia. Chris Lovitt of Colonial Forge is also on the ODU football roster. The Monarchs have a new football program and will start its schedule in 2009 … Miller played one year of football at North Stafford.