By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Zach Cover has always dreamed of playing baseball at the Division I level, and soon he might get the chance.
The Strasburg senior is hoping to walk-on at Coastal Carolina next year. Cover said his dad played in the minor leagues, before an injury cut his career short. Cover said he's played the game since he was little, and the chance to play in college and beyond has been a big goal.
Cover, The Northern Virginia Daily's Baseball Player of the Year, said he also looked at George Mason University before deciding to go to Coastal Carolina.
"Ever since I was little, I always wanted to go pretty big and I wanted to go out of state," Cover said. "I just always thought that would be a little more special if you could go out of state and maybe play on a team there. That was a big influence on picking Coastal."
Cover had a solid senior season for the Rams. He finished with a 1.54 ERA, and led the area with 67 strikeouts.
He said one of his biggest improvements this season was being tougher mentally on the mound.
"Being able to dial a little harder when you get bases loaded with less than two outs," Cover said. "I found myself in a lot of those situations this year and I was able to work out of a lot of them. Being able to focus a little harder when times get a little tougher."
Cover pitched in a lot of big games this year for the Rams, and faced other teams' aces a lot of the time. He finished the season with a 7-2 record and pitched 59 innings.
One of the keys to Cover's success on the mound was his change-up.
"If you can only be a one-pitch pitcher, you're not going to make it very far," Cover said. "If you can execute with your curveball or your change-up, or anything else to get that over the plate, you got a pretty good chance at being good."
Cover didn't hit as well as he would have liked to this season. He hit .302 with 26 runs scored and 19 RBIs. However, he picked it up in his last five games of the season and helped lead the Rams to the Group A, Division 2 state quarterfinals.
"I felt like that was going to need to happen throughout our whole lineup," Cover said. "Teams are just going to get better. Everybody's gotta pick it up in some way or not fall off if you're having a really good season.
"I just tried to focus a little harder, and really tried to get things done toward the end of the season."
The Rams had a very good season, with an 18-5 record. They won the Bull Run District regular season and tournament titles. Strasburg was the Region B, Division 2 runner-up and advanced to the state tournament for the second time in four years.
Last year, the Rams failed to qualify for regionals, which fueled the team to try to at least make the state tournament this season.
"We worked hard as a team," Cover said. "We came out here every day and busted our butt just to get better, somehow. I thought a lot of guys stepped up this year. A lot of younger guys did very well. As a team, we played very well.
"I'm very proud of the season we had. It was an honor to play with them my last season at Strasburg."
Cover is excited about his future and achieving some of his biggest dreams. He hopes to not only play at Coastal Carolina, but also try to play in the minor leagues someday, and maybe even the majors. Cover said he knows it will take a lot of hard work, but he believes in having lofty goals.
"Dream big, if you dream little then you aren't going to achieve as much," Cover said. "I plan to dream pretty big."