Zach Kuchmaner may not have finished his career at Marvin Ridge the way he wanted, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have one of the most successful seasons in the county.
The recent Marvin Ridge graduate has known from the start of the season that he wanted to make it to the Class 3A state
championship series. And despite finishing Southern Carolinas Conference play in first place with a 12-3 record, Kuchmaner and his Mav teammates fell in the second round of the state tournament in a tough 5-3 loss to South Rowan – an unexpected defeat that was hard for Kuchmaner to shake off.
“We were playing well at the end of the season, but obviously that loss wasn’t what we wanted,” he said. “It was tough going out like that my senior year.”
But while many senior Mavs walked off the field for the last time, Kuchmaner’s career is only getting started and the accolades are flowing in. The 6-foot-1, left-handed first baseman and star pitcher recently signed to play with North Carolina – a program that’s gone 78-40 in the ACC over the last four seasons. He was named the 2014 Southern Carolinas Conference Player of the Year and was added to the N.C. Coaches Association all-state team, an honor reserved for the state’s elite. Now, he’s the 2014 Union County Weekly Baseball Player of the Year.
For Kuchmaner, the recognitions ease the pain of a disappointing playoff loss.
“It’s been awesome,” Kuchmaner said of his eye-popping accomplishments. “I grew over the last few seasons and it’s cool to see that pay off. It definitely makes the way we went out a little easier… I’ve loved my time as a Maverick.”
The Mavericks got off to a slow start this year, dropping their first three games. But it wasn’t long before they hit their stride, going on an 11-game winning streak, including two big wins over defending state champion Piedmont. Kuchmaner was at the forefront of that success, leading the Mavs – and all of Union County – from the plate batting .474 with an on-base percentage of .541. He finished the season with 29 singles, 23 RBIs and a county-high 20 stolen bases.
But the lefty’s talent didn’t stop there. The Mavs had an experienced staff of pitchers including University of Arizona commit Max Wotell, Hunter Colonna and Connor Murphy, but Kuchmaner saw 48 innings on the hill and finished 6-2 with an ERA of 2.03. He recorded 61 strikeouts and even threw a no hitter against Sun Valley.
“I had my ups and downs over the season,” Kuchmaner said. “You can’t play well every game, of course, but I was really proud of the senior season I had. I think I played my hardest.”
Kuchmaner comes from a baseball family as the middle of three boys, all of whom have played on the Maverick baseball team. His older brother, Vic, graduated last year and his younger brother, Jake, made the varsity team this season as a freshman. Between the influence of his brothers and playing summer ball with the Union County American Legion team, it’s no wonder Kuchmaner has become one of the best players in the state.
“I play year-round, I work hard and I get in the weight room,” Kuchmaner said of his successful tenure at Marvin Ridge. “But I also played under a great program and great coach. (Mark) Mennitt is really well respected and a college-caliber coach, so that’s gone a long way in my development.”
Kuchmaner was one of the top arms in the rotation for his Unionville Post 535 this summer, where he played alongside Weddington’s Landon Kay (Furman) and Piedmont’s Austin Harding, Hunter Jones (Charlotte 49ers) and Nigel Hester (N.C. A&T). With Kuchmaner spending the majority of the time on the mound, they recovered from a 1-7 start to end up in the Area IV quarterfinal series.
And his summer schedule isn’t slowing down – Kuchmaner will report to Chapel Hill in about two weeks and begin his lifelong dream of playing collegiate baseball.
“I had been talking to their coaches during the second part of my senior year,” Kuchmaner explained. “When they asked me to play for them, it was a no-brainer. The school is great, their baseball program is incredible and the atmosphere is awesome. It was an easy choice. They’re one of the top five programs in the country and I get to be a part of that.”
And though his senior season as a Maverick didn’t end the way he wanted, Kuchmaner knows big things are in store for his future.
“I’m going to miss the family atmosphere of this team,” he said. “I’m going to miss the Marvin Ridge family. But I couldn’t be more excited about what’s ahead. I know it’s going to be great.”