Bonney Lake High pitcher Zac Horne has a lot of expectations on him this season as the Panthers look to their senior right-hander to fill the role of staff ace.
Gone are the days where Grant Townsend was called upon to pick up the win in those clutch moments, as the Panthers’ former ace now pitches for Central Arizona College. Now more than ever, Horne and his fellow seniors will be relied on for success.
If we reached beyond regionals, we might made (Zac Horne) our No. 2 (starter).
Bonney Lake coach Mike Olson
“Grant was awesome to watch work. He made it look easier for us, and we knew we were always going to be in games he started for us,” Horne said. “It gave us confidence.”
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And that’s what Horne and fellow seniors Thomas Reindl and Kyle Muller will need to be for Bonney Lake as the Panthers try to take the 3A South Puget Sound League title from last year’s champion, Auburn Mountainview.
“(Horne) was our No. 3 (last year),” Bonney Lake coach Mike Olson said. “Sometimes in high school you need a No. 3 and sometimes you don’t. He had about 25 or so innings, and he had a really good season. (It was) just inconsistent with (getting) opportunities.”
“If we reached beyond regionals, we might made him our No. 2,” the coach said. “We were debating that choice.”
The stats don’t say enough about Horne’s season, Olson added, referring to his 2-2 record and 3.27 earned run average over 25.1 innings pitched. He also recorded 17 strikeouts and 11 walks.
I feel like I just need to perform at my best, be there for the team, and be the top pitcher.
Sometime late last season, a change happened in Horne. He started to become locked in on the mound, Olson recalled, as the senior became tough to hit.
Coming in, there wasn’t a doubt in Olson’s mind that Horne was this season’s ace for Bonney Lake. He saw the potential in his budding pitcher.
“He’s the only guy we got with experience right now, but Zac got better as (last) year went on, and I’m positive he’ll have a nice season for us,” Olson said.
And that will be crucial for Horne to perform as Bonney Lake is taking a step back. Not in talent, but in experience.
Only Horne understands the pressures of what a league season can do to a pitcher. Or what it means to have someone who can take the mound and deliver outs.
“I feel like I just need to perform at my best, be there for the team and be the top pitcher,” Horne said. “When we lost all those seniors, I felt like I needed to step up. Before, I wasn’t one to step up, but now being one of the top guys, I needed (to).”
No longer is Horne hiding or relying on other teammates to set the tone. It’s his time to do that.
“It’s my time to go out there and have the best senior season I can for myself and for my team,” Horne said.