Young shortstop maturing after rookie success
Edward Rudman – Sports Writer
With large shoes to fill as a freshman, shortstop Zach Bedryczuk has stepped up to the plate and excelled in his first year at the collegiate level. Bedryczuk posted a .526 batting average in six games during a shortened 2020 season halted by COVID-19.
“At this level, you have to make the most of your opportunities, and that’s exactly what Zach did,” said Head Coach Tim Shea. “Even though it was a small sample size, I don’t want to say we were surprised because all of the players we bring in. It’s next man up and we expect them to do well, but that sample size then made me realize I have to figure out how to get this guy in the lineup every day.”
Coming in as a freshman during the 2020 season, Zach joined an Owls program. The group had just lost one of its best players, team captain and shortstop Jim Palmer, who graduated from Southern Connecticut in 2019.
Not only was Bedryczuk able to adjust to the college level quickly, but he helped fill the recent gap in the Owls’ lineup. As lead-off hitter, Bedryczuk plays an important position in the lineup, one that requires a high on-base percentage and a competent batter at the plate, which is exactly what Bedryczuk was able to accomplish in his freshman season.
“I’ve always had the confidence in myself I’m kind of on the smaller end, so I’ve always had to prove myself to everyone,” said Bedryczuk. “People didn’t expect me to be where I am or to be good, so when Coach Shea believed in me that I could do this, I knew that right there I was in good hands.”
In his debut for the Owls, Bedryczuk made three hits in a 12-11 extra-inning shoot-out against Florida National University on Feb. 14, 2020, the first freshman to get three hits in their career debut since Tyler Criscuolo did so against Chestnut Hill on Feb. 27, 2016, according to Southern’s athletic website.
Bedryczuk proved from the start that he would be a valuable part of the Owl’s lineup for seasons to come, and although he might not have as much experience at the NCAA level as other players on the team, he brings with him a lifetime of experience with baseball itself.
“I always loved baseball. My sister played Tee-ball and she’s a little older than me, and my dad was the coach, so I always went to the games with them and was on the sidelines. I was too young to play but I loved the game so much,” said Bedryczuk. “My parents always tell me that they just couldn’t get me off the field basically, even as a 3- or 4-year-old, so they actually went and got permission from the league to allow me to play at that young age.”
From that moment forward, baseball was his passion. The rest of his story has yet to unfold, but he will hopefully resume this 2021 spring with the scheduled season in place.
Bedryczuk said, “My goal for this season is for the team to make a World Series run, try to win every game and to do the best that we can. Be as successful as we can be, make regionals, go out there and just have some fun.”