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Stillwater fearless in start

By Amelia Rayno, Star Tribune, 04/29/11, 9:24AM CDT


With Pernu out, Zorn steps up

 Joe Zorn wasn’t really expected to be a shut-down guy in the section this year, so you’ll have to forgive opponents for walking away from the plate in a little bit of a shock after they face the Stillwater righthander.

There are times, even, when he leaves his own coach stunned. Even so, the 6-6 senior is starting to get some major respect, and with good reason. His first three starts of the season have all been complete games, he’s given up only a single run and walked out none while striking out 25.
“He’s been incredibly competitive on the mound … a very pleasant surprise for us this year,” coach Mike Parker said of Zorn who he asked to take a bigger role after ace Jayson Pernu was unable to start the season due to a shoulder surgery. “He doesn’t have much fear. He goes right after the hitter... I’ve seen some head shaking.”
 If that’s true, Zorn isn’t noticing. He laughed at the idea that some might.
“I don’t really pay attention to that he said. I tend to kind of just be in the moment.”
 In that moment, he’s always had a quiet confidence about himself, he says, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had his own moments of realization in a season in which he has already been so dominant and his fastball has increased by at least five miles an hour, to mid-80’s, according to Parker.
“I guess that’s what it feels like,” Zorn said of the speed increase. “I guess you could say I’m a little surprised at how everything has been able to fall together. It’s a little bit of a shock – I’m just trying to keep this ball rolling.”
Although the Ponies recently lost two games to Cretin-Derham Hall and Hastings – by one and two runs, respectively; Parker pointed out how their hitting, especially timely hitting, has been spotty --  the coach is focusing on the good. Through eight games, the team has had just five errors, including four error-free games. The team strike-to-walk ratio – of which Parker sets 4-to-1 as a goal – is currently 8-to-1.
Zorn said he isn’t afraid to lose a few games; he instead is concerned about the team learning and improving as they go.
“We always want to get off to a good start, to get some momentum for the rest of the year, but we don’t want to peak too early,” he said.
That doesn’t seem like too much of a threat, with Pernu—who went 8-2 with a 1.02 ERA for the Ponies last year, but has been out since a February surgery for a cumulative shoulder injury  -- set to return in early May.
“That will be huge for us,” Zorn said. “He could make us that much stronger.

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