Shippensburg University pitcher Kyle Lysy, a senior and catcher Chase Zurawski, junior are back on the diamond after a three-month absence from the game due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Lysy and Zurawski are both competing in collegiate baseball leagues this summer. Lysy is a member of the Butler Ironbucks in the Tri-State Collegiate League (TSCL), while Zurawski signed with the Lake Norman Copperheads in the Southern Collegiate Baseball League (SCBL).
Both players said that they are more excited than ever to get back on the field, despite the continuing concern of the virus. The rush of excitement to return to the diamond comes from the pain of the cancellation of their 2020 season. The team only played 18 games.
“For the last few months, I’ve been ready to run through a brick wall to get back out on that mound,” Lysy said. “After not throwing in a game for three months, it’s great to get back out there.”
Both players said that they are not fearful of contracting the virus. The TSCL and the SCBL continue to follow the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to the SU athletes.
In the SCBL, Zurawski said his temperature is taken and he is asked numerous questions regarding the virus before every game. Some of the questions include if he has tested positive for COVID-19, if he has been in contact with anyone who has the virus or if he has contracted any other illnesses recently.
While it may seem excessive, both players said they are thankful for the strides and efforts the leagues are putting in to keep the athletes safe. With most summer leagues cancelling their seasons, Lysy and Zurawski said they are happy to be back playing the game they love. Especially after all the hard work they have put in once their spring season was brought to a screeching halt.
Lysy and Zurawski said they used the past three months to work on their craft and improve on small parts of their game. Both players have also been getting in extra reps with roommates and Lysy has even worked with former Raider and current professional pitcher Michael Hope.
“I always want to grow and learn more to perfect my craft,” Lysy said. “I have been working on a two-seam fastball and a changeup during this time. Instead of three pitches, I now have four that I’m commanding pretty well.”
The unexpected time off has also provided the SU duo some extra motivation for their summer season.
“The motivation is high after not knowing when we would be allowed to play baseball again,” Zurawski said. “It is an awesome feeling to be getting back on the field.”
Both players are looking to add to the monumental numbers they have compiled thus far in their careers at SU.
Lysy is coming off his best season yet, finishing with a 2.76 ERA in 29.1 innings of work while totaling 28 strikeouts. The SU senior also added two wins to his season total, including one complete game shutout.
Zurawski burst onto the scene in his freshman season, compiling a .429 batting average. He managed to repeat his success with a .305 batting average in his sophomore campaign; rounding out with a career .292 batting average in his three-year tenure. Additionally, he owns a career .372 on-base percentage and a career .991 fielding percentage behind the plate.
While both players hope to contribute to their teams early in the season, they realize it may take some time to get back to their true form.
Lysy earned his first start of his summer campaign on June 9, pitching a solid outing. He scattered four hits over 5.2 innings of work while allowing three earned runs and struck out eight. He also walked four batters.
Zurawski kicked off his summer season on June 15. The SU junior owns a .143 batting average through his first six games played but totaled three RBIs in an impressive performance in a 16-2 win against the Concord Athletics on June 23.
In the end, both players feel grateful for the opportunity to play ball again. They will use the time to make up for the 30 games they missed this spring as well as prepare for the 2021 season.
“It is amazing to be back out on the bump and to be able to have this opportunity to play the game I love,” Lysy said. “So, I’m very appreciative that I’m able to get my innings in and stay sharp.”
“It is a great feeling to be playing organized baseball again with everything that had happened,” Zurawski added.
Both Raiders have plenty more baseball ahead of them. Lysy will complete his season July 19 and Zurawski finishes July 30.