Ferntheil signs with Cochise College baseball in Arizona

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Apr 12, 2014

Second chances are rare in life, but 19-year-old pitcher Zach Ferntheil of Anchorage got a redo last month in Arizona.

And now he’ll get another shot in college baseball.

The 2012 Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year from Service High has signed with Cochise College, a premier JC program in Arizona. 

“It was a situation where it seemed right,” he told me. “All coaches have their recruiting pitches and theirs sit best with me. Arizona was definitely a plus.”

Ferntheil played last season at Calhoun Community College in Alabama, where he won his season debut and posted a 6.30 ERA in 10 innings over three appearances. He left and was in need of a new team.

Enter Tony Wylie of the Alaska Baseball Academy. The former high school state championship coach at East has a ton of contacts in baseball and got Ferntheil a chance to pitch for Lagley Blaze manager Doug Mathieson.

“I gotta give a shout out to Doug because he said yes,” Fernthiel said.

The 6-foot-1 right-hander played with the Blaze during last month’s exhibition series in Arizona against minor league teams in front of dozens of college scouts. That’s where he met the coaches from Cochise.

“They were looking for a guy to come in and throw 80 to 100 innings and I definitely I feel like that’s something I’d be able to do,” Ferntheil said. “Previously I think I kind of got off track and didn’t really focus on pitching, but I think I figured that out and I’m so much more prepared.”

For starters, he simplified his approach. Don’t think, just throw. And throw strikes.

“I try to be executed oriented rather than outcome oriented, and by that I mean, I just want to throw a strike rather than thinking I’m going to walk him if I throw a ball,” he said. “It’s college baseball; you’re not facing MLB hitters. You don’t have to throw 95 and have great off-speed to get guys out. Stay around the zone and you’ll be alright because most hitters will get themselves out.”

Starter, reliever, it doesn’t matter – Ferntheil is ready to pitch in any situation for Cochise next season.

“I’m going in with the mindset that I’m trying to see how good I can be and wherever I fit in is where I fit in,” he said. “It’s important to continue to compete, and if you give up a hit, it’s not a big deal, it doesn’t need to cause a snowball effect.  It’s only a failure if you don’t learn from it. If you do crappy, you work hard and come back more focused next time and get the job done.”

This story was written by Van Williams, a freelance writer in Anchorage and the ALB Media Director.