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Winnacunnet graduate Zach Brassill finds his way in SNHU baseball

SANFORD, Maine – Zach Brassill, a 2022 Winnacunnet High School graduate and pitcher for the Sanford Mainers this summer, had a standout performance for the Southern New Hampshire University baseball team this spring.

Brassill earned a commanding 5-2 victory over Jefferson to clinch the Penmen's berth in the East Super Regional of the NCAA Division II tournament. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out seven. It was a big moment for the team and for Brassill, who was a redshirt freshman this spring and hadn't pitched at all in his first year at SNHU.

“I've had my ups and downs all year, and then to be able to start in a regional game and help our team get to the Supers was awesome,” Brassill said. “And I pitched a really good game. It was just a lot of energy and it was super fun.”

Brassill appeared in 15 games for the Penmen this season and was in the starting lineup, pitching 73 innings with a 6.29 ERA, 66 strikeouts and a 7-4 record.

Brassill had two winning streaks – one from February to early March and the other from late April to early May – in which he won three starts in a row.

“I've been fortunate enough to be able to compete every weekend,” Brassill said. “Honestly, not many people get the opportunity to do that as a redshirt freshman, so I'm just glad I got this opportunity.”

In his second start of the season, a win over Molloy, Brassill pitched a complete game, going the full nine innings, allowing one unearned run on five hits and striking out a season-high nine batters. He went at least six innings in seven of his 15 starts and allowed three or fewer earned runs in seven starts.

Brassill had one of only four complete game starts for SNHU this season, and Exeter High School graduate Parker Lendrum also pitched a complete game.

2023 was a learning year for Brassill

Although Brassill did not play in the 2023 season, he was able to improve through hard work and observing his teammates.

“There were a lot of really good players on that team that learned how to handle themselves and how to prepare for games day in and day out,” he said. “That helped a lot, and I just watched a lot of baseball. Even myself, I just worked on my craft and I'm getting better every day.”

Brassill said his biggest focus during his redshirt freshman year in 2024 is being competitive on the mound, adding that he has been taking a lot of live at-bats during the 2023 season and has learned from those sessions.

“I wasn't necessarily scared, but I didn't have the mindset to attack the hitters and go on the offensive,” Brassill said. “So that's what I worked on; it was just a mindset change. And it definitely worked.”

“Baseball is a game that's meant to be fun,” he added. “And you shouldn't be out there afraid of hitters or anything. Hitting is really hard, and when you're pitching on offense, it makes things a lot easier.”

Brassill said college is a different beast than high school, but in a good way, and it's more competitive to earn playing time.

“You never know when your turn is going to come,” Brassill said. “And you have to be ready to go out and play at any time.”

In the summer, Brassill played in the New England Collegiate Baseball League with the Sanford Mainers. In three innings, he recorded four strikeouts and allowed two runs.

Looking ahead to next season, Brassill said he definitely wants to build on the achievements of 2024.

“I just have to continue to get better and also learn how to throw a changeup,” Brassill said. “That's going to be my biggest focus, throwing a changeup and just getting the lead, staying the lead and letting fewer people run.”

After seven wins, Brassill is aiming for double-digit results next season.

“As a starter, I think it's great,” he said. “Obviously it's good for me, but it also helps the team when you go out there and win games for them.”