Tyler Zuber’s pitching ability was no secret. It earned him a scholarship with Arkansas State.
All the extra hours of practice paid off for him — extra hours pitching and batting, that is.
“I really wanted to focus on doing both,” he said. “It came out that I got to do that. I just thought, I’m a senior and I’m one of the leaders on the team. I wanted to step up hitting the ball.”
Zuber took many steps up at the plate, going from a .333 average his junior year to .493 as a senior. His offensive contributions this season has earned him the title of The Commercial’s Southeast Arkansas Hitter of the Year.
The process of becoming White Hall’s leader in batting average was “time-consuming,” as Zuber described it.
“I put in multiple hours,” he said. “Going into the batting cage at the house with my dad, staying after practice to work on my swing, I’ve got to give credit to my coaches and my dad for helping me get better.”
Zuber posted a .710 slugging percentage and had a .560 on-base percentage. Of his 34 hits, one was a home run, but he drove in 23 runs. His 34 hits trailed only Landon Reed on the team.
The offense went well with his pitching performance this season. Zuber went 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA, striking out 98 in 54 innings pitched. Of his 999 official pitches throw, 612 of them were strikes.
Sure enough, his all-around play has earned him a spot in Tuesday’s Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star Baseball doubleheader at the University of Central Arkansas. But where were these offensive numbers last year, when White Hall won the 5A state championship?
“He just didn’t get enough opportunities last year,” White Hall coach Skip Carr said. “We focused on him pitching. He hit well last summer for the (American) Legion team, and he took that and built on it for high school ball.
“He’s a hard worker. I think it’s just opportunities. He’s always been able to hit. We were so focused on him pitching, he wasn’t comfortable as a pitcher and hitter.”
Zuber sure seemed that way this season. When he struck out 14 in a state first-round game against Beebe, he lined two hits and had two runs.
White Hall lost its next game to Little Rock Christian to end the season.
“I went 4 for 8 in the state tournament,” Zuber said. “I found my stroke toward the end.”
As Zuber moves on to Arkansas State, he leaves a big hole for the Bulldogs to fill — on both sides of the ball.
Carr said Zuber is a bigger loss as a pitcher because a dominant pitcher can throw around a good hitter and still win a ballgame. But he knows what he’ll be missing in the lineup without the future Red Wolf.
“We have some big shoes to fill there,” Carr said. “He had a lot of big two-out hits. The pressure didn’t bother him.”