Obsessed Zywicki is on a roll

Brandon Zywicki is 11-1 this season as a pitcher for Missouri Baptist. The Rochester Mayo graduate is in his first season at the NAIA school.

The city was nice. Golden Gate Bridge, the bay, Fisherman's Wharf, and all that.

But the fit? Not so much, especially with a coaching change having happened just as Brandon Zywicki arrived. That threw him.

So after two summer months trying to get acclimated at the University of San Francisco last year, former Rochester Mayo standout pitcher Brandon Zywicki went searching for a new home.

It would be his third college in three years, the first two spent at junior college "baseball factory" Central Arizona.

"We had 15 Division I transfers while I was there," Zywicki said. "Guys from USC, and all over the place."


Rugged competition

Zywicky fit right in with them. He was an all-conference pitcher his first year at Central Arizona before having his sophomore season cut short by an injury.

"Central Arizona (30 miles from Phoenix) was one of the best experiences I could have had as a college student," Zywicki said. "All you did was your school work, (physical) rehab, and play baseball. That's all we did. It gave us a lot of time to focus on the field."

And really, that's all that Zywicki wants. He's a stellar student (3.7 GPA this year) and is obsessed with pitching and the game of baseball. His goal is to become a professional pitcher, followed by a potential career with the CIA.

After quickly leaving San Francisco, Zywicki put out feelers to Division II schools late last summer. He contacted Winona State, St. Cloud State and Minnesota, Mankato. In each case, Zywicki had gotten a hold of them too close to the school year. Their rosters were set.

So, he took the advice of a Central Arizona coach who'd been hunting around for him, and said yes to Missouri Baptist.

Top NAIA program

Located 20 minutes from St. Louis, Missouri Baptist is regarded as having one of the top NAIA baseball programs in the country. It reached the NAIA World Series last year.


For Zywicki, this third college home has taken some getting used to. Funny to hear it from a Minnesota kid, but the St. Louis-area weather took a toll on him. Too cold.

Yes, he'd been spoiled by Arizona.

"I hate the cold," Zywicki said. "Missouri Baptist is a good place, but the scenery is different than Arizona, and the weather has been kind of miserable. When I was at Central Arizona, we barely got a hint of rain in two years."

While the weather doesn't do it for him at his current college, the baseball has been excellent. Zywicki has played a large role in making it that way, helping the Spartans to a 45-12 record, with just two wins to go to advance to their second straight NAIA college World Series.

Zywicki has done it by going 11-1 with a 2.89 ERA. He's recorded 63 strikeouts against just 21 walks.

Missouri Baptist coach Eddie Uschold says that Zywicki isn't your garden-variety pitcher or person. He's referring to more than just his talent, which includes him throwing a 90-mph fastball, along with four other pitches that come from all angles. That good stuff and those lofty statistics made him the co-Pitcher of the Year in the American Midwest Conference.

But it's his approach to the game — which is obsessive — that makes him unique. So does his deep-thinking baseball mind.

"Brandon is a competitive kid and he really wants to win," Uschold said. "He's almost too much of a perfectionist. About an hour after the team has all done its practicing, Brandon is still out there, working on drills on his own. He's one of those guys who has that mentality, that he wants to be all he can be and do all that he can.


"And having conversations with him, he's a deep-thinker kind of person. He's very cerebral, thinking things through on and off the field."

But above all, he's a driven baseball player. And he'll be driving for more once college is done.

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