Zack Mozingo - All-Area baseball pitcher of the year
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on June 11, 2011 11:03 PM
A competitor who relishes pressure situations and a strike thrower with control of his command, Zack Mozingo has spent the past three years developing into Wayne County's top high school pitcher.
And, at times, he can be downright unhittable.
Mozingo compiled a 9-3 record this season with 1.44 earned run average and 136 strikeouts in 82 2/3 innings. That strong effort on the rubber has earned Mozingo the 2011 News-Argus All-Area Baseball Pitcher-of-the-Year award.
Thrust in the fire on the varsity level as a freshman, Mozingo started the 2009 Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference championship game in New Hope against rival Charles B. Aycock.
He surrendered two earned runs on four hits in 4 2/3 innings and settled for a no-decision in the Warriors' 4-2 comeback victory. He gained valuable experience during Eastern Wayne's run to the state finals and followed that up with a 4-7 record in 2010 with a 2.31 ERA.
"When he was a freshman we ran him out on the mound in some crucial games." said Warriors' head coach Jabo Fulghum. "At the time we were testing him and he came through. Mo's a competitor and he's the type of kid that wants the baseball in a tough situation.
"You want your guy to be able to say, 'when the tough gets going I want to get it done.'"
Through off-season workouts and experience with Wayne County's American Legion team and by playing showcase baseball with the Dirtbags, Mozingo continued to improve his velocity and his off-speed pitches.
Diligent work in the bullpen with Eastern Wayne assistant coach Rabbit Fulghum improved the downward motion on Mozingo's curveball and his ability to throw his changeup consistently for strikes. The extra effort paid off with no-hit performances against ECC foe Triton and 2010 eastern champion Wilson Hunt.
Mozingo recorded 10 or more strikeouts in seven games this season. He struck out a season-high 15 batters in the playoffs at Hunt and tallied 11 strikeouts in the no-hitter at Triton. Mozingo allowed just 22 walks and opponents hit .140 against him.
"My curveball my freshman and sophomore year wasn't that good," said Mozingo. "I've developed more bite and more movement on it, and it's led to more strikeouts. My control was there in both of those no-hitters. Coach Fulghum calls pitches and I just throw what he calls.
"He calls a good game to set guys up and get outs."
The list of colleges interested in Mozingo continued to grow throughout his junior season. He recently narrowed his list to two -- North Carolina and N.C. State.
Having a pitcher who thrives in big-game situations with an electric fastball and three years of varsity experience is an asset Fulghum knows breathes confidence into his team.
"By Mozingo being able to give us a strong performance every time he goes out there, it gives guys confidence and helps us out defensively as well as offensively," said Fulghum. "When you have a guy that wants to go out there in big situations it make a difference for the team."