Braves graduate excels on diamond, tennis court

For The Tribune

Sy Zickler began playing baseball at a young age and tennis in middle school.

He enjoyed both sports so much he continued them during the time he was at Brownstown Central High School.

“Playing tennis is something my family has always done, so in seventh grade and eighth grade, I played tennis and kind of got my feet wet in that,” he said. “In high school, I kind of excelled under coach (Ron) Slaton. I really liked him as a coach. He was somebody I looked up to and had fun playing tennis.

“I started playing baseball when I was 4 or 5 years old. Coming to Brownstown, the goal was to always win a sectional, and winning the (2016) sectional for the first time in 34 years was something special.”

Zickler holds the record for career tennis wins at Brownstown with 70 and season wins (with Sam Hoff with 22), and he was a sectional champion at No. 1 doubles.

In baseball, he pitched a no-hitter this spring at Borden and helped the team win the sectional title last year.

This spring, he split his playing time between third base and pitching.

“This year, I really blossomed as a pitcher,” Zickler said. “I feel like coach (John) Lawson had a lot of faith in me pitching bigger games. He worked me a lot more this year, which I enjoyed. I like getting out there on the mound and controlling the pace of the game. I really like pitching.”

On the mound, Zickler tosses a variety of pitches.

“This year, I developed a knuckleball and a two-seam fastball, so I throw a four-seam, a two-seam, a knuckle ball and a knuckle curveball,” he said.

“I’d say my curveball is my No. 1. From my junior year to my senior year was my biggest jump in my fastball development, so I was glad to see that this year. I felt like I’ve gotten a lot more pace and velocity.”

In the lineup, Zickler hit third throughout the season.

“I hit fifth last year, but I feel like I embraced it to the best of my ability this year,” he said. “I hit pretty well. I’ve had quite a few doubles, and I drove in a lot of runs, which is the most important thing. My on-base percentage was pretty high.”

He talked about first-pitch strikes as a pitcher and as a batter.

“Being a good pitcher also feeds off being a good hitter, too, because you know as a hitter what the pitcher wants, and as a pitcher, you know what the hitter wants,” he said. “Getting ahead in the count is definitely one of my main things. Against Borden, when I threw that no-hitter, I think I was ahead in the count to almost every batter, which obviously helped, because then you’re ahead and he feels like he has to catch up.”

Zickler will play baseball at Clark State Community College, located north of Cincinnati, Ohio.

He said he looks forward to playing third base and pitching when called upon for that position.

Zickler played No. 2 doubles in tennis his junior year, and then moved up to No. 1 last fall.

“I enjoyed the team aspect of the game,” Zickler said. “A lot of people think it’s just an individual type sport, but winning as a team is something to be proud of, which is what we did a lot the past couple years. We had successful teams my four years here, so that was always exciting.

“Being individual sectional champion was awesome. We had a good run. We had good competition. We had Seymour and Scottsburg. In the regional, we played Madison, and when we lost, we played North Posey. They were definitely our toughest match of the year.”

He said he played some singles matches his freshman year before transitioning to doubles.

“My freshman year, when I played JV singles, I always went back and forth on it if I wanted to play singles or doubles,” Zickler said. “Doubles is definitely a lot more fun having Ethan (Carlin, junior year) and Sam and even Kent Criminger my sophomore year. I’ve always loved my partner, and we had a good time playing.”

Whether it was tennis or baseball, Zickler looked forward to the home games.

“The home matches were great,” Zickler said. “(Tennis) Coach (Scott) Dittmer came in this year and made it really fun for us. The thing I remember the most probably is going out there to practice every day with the coach. He really helped us advance our game more. He was great out there, and playing at home was a good atmosphere.”

Zickler said he had a lot of big wins in tennis, but beating Seymour in the sectional and Madison to advance his senior year is at the top of his list.

He said practice is important in all sports, and the mental part was big.

“I always want to think of myself as more of a mental player than a physical player, which is something that I feel is very important to my game,” Zickler said. “I like to think ahead and get in the mind of the other players.”

Zickler said the relationships built through athletics will last a lifetime.

“I liked the bond with all the guys I met and all the guys I played against over the years,” he said. “I’m good friends with a lot of the guys we played. Building relationships with other guys is definitely something I’ll always remember.”

The recent grad enjoyed his time at BCHS.

“I’ve had a good four years here academically,” Zickler said. “I can’t say enough about the teachers here and how great they are. It’s been a fun ride.”

Zickler file

Name: Sy Zickler

School: Brownstown Central High School

Parents: Heather and Craig Zickler

Sibling: Gunnar

Sports: Baseball, four years; tennis, four years

Athletic highlights: Baseball, 2016 sectional champions, all-county team, no-hitter vs. Borden; tennis, most career wins (70), sectional doubles champions

Organizations: Booster Club, Lettermen’s Club

Plans after high school: Attend Clark State Community College and play baseball

Favorite food: Wings

Favorite musician: Mike Stud

Favorite TV show: “Real Time with Bill Maher”

Favorite movie: “Saving Private Ryan”

Favorite team: Cincinnati Reds

Author photo
Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.