ATHENS — The Southern Ohio Copperheads battled change in the pitching staff all summer.
However, Zach Iverson was a constant and the league rewarded him last week.
Iverson was named the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League Lou Laslo Pitcher of the Year.
Iverson was one of five Copperheads named to the list.
Iverson came to Southern Ohio from Michigan State, where he played primarily third base for the Spartans. Iverson only pitched 6 1-3 innings last spring.
Iverson also played third base for the Copperheads, but shined during his days on the mound. He was tied for the league lead in wins, going 5-0 in eight starts. He finished second in the GLSCL with a 1.51 ERA and strikeouts (57). He finished fifth in innings pitched at 51.0, only two behind the league leader.
Iverson only walked seven batters, compared to his 57 strikeouts. Opponents hit only .249 against him, and his WHIP was 1.1.
“He’s not even really a pitcher,” Southern Ohio manager Austin Dunfee said after a win on July 12. “I think the fact that his arm is well rested and he has a little bit of a pitching background has given him an edge. He’s just been setting the league on fire.
“We get to look forward to seeing Zach Iverson on the mound,” he added. “Gives you a little breath of fresh air that, hey we’re going to win this game because our guy is on the mound today.”
Iverson was part of a strong pitching rotation at the start of the season, but seven pitchers left the team around the start of July due to injuries and other pitch-count limitations. Iverson helped hold down the fort, as the Copperheads came within a win of a playoff spot.
Joining Iverson on the 2019 GLSCL Post Season Award team are catcher Scott Combs, outfielders Sebastian Fabik and Jared Heard and relief pitcher Braxton Kelly.
Fabik was named a first-team outfielder and was the top hitter on the team. He hit a team-best .345 in 39 games, gaining 57 hits in 165 at-bats. He had five home runs, 18 doubles and 38 RBIs.
Fabik led the GLSCL in doubles, was third in RBIs, sixth in batting average and tied for seventh in home runs.
Combs was named a second-team catcher, playing in 21 games for the Copperheads. He finished with a .325 average — 25 hits in 77 at-bats — to go with 12 RBIs and four walks.
Kelly was a second-team pick as a relief pitcher. He started the season as Southern Ohio’s closer but ended up starting three games at the end of the season as the Copperheads looked to fill out the starting rotation.
Kelly appeared in 13 games total, posting a 2.67 ERA in 36 2-3 innings. He struck out 48, walking 17.
Kelly had four saves in 10 outings out of the bullpen, then went 2-1 in three starts.
Heard was named a third-team outfielder. He hit .302 in 26 games, with 36 hits in 86 at-bats. He hit three home runs and collected 27 RBIs. He drew 20 walks, raising his on-base percentage to .445.
Lima’s Tyler Tolve was named the Gary Henschen Player of the Year, as well as the Ron Miller Top Player Prospect.
Lake Erie’s Sam Benschoter was the Tony Lucadella Top Pitcher Prospect.
Southern Ohio went 23-18 during the summer, a season after winning the GLSCL championship.
The playoff format was reduced from six teams last year, to just four teams in 2019 and the Copperheads just missed out. They lost on the last night of the regular season to Richmond in a do-or-die game.
Southern Ohio was just a half-game behind Cincinnati (24-18) which took the final playoff spot.
The GLSCL postseason began last Thursday, and both division champions have advanced to the finals.
Licking County swept Cincinnati, 2-0. The Settlers won the first game 9-5, then won the second game 3-1 to advance.
The Lima Locos have emerged from the North Division, sweeping the Muskegon Clippers in two games.
Lima won the first game, 9-6, and the second game, 3-1.
The best-of-three GLSCL championship series between Lima and Licking County was set to begin Saturday at Licking County. Lima (25-16) and Licking County (25-17) had the two best records in the league during the regular season.
Game 2 is scheduled for Sunday at Lima, and a potential game 3 would also be at Lima on Monday.