8th grade pitcher has Patriots contending for West title

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At the end of play on May 16, Century is the top team in the West. It’s worth nothing that Century’s pitcher, Maddy Zander, is only in the eighth grader and she is key part of a Patriot’s team.

“As an eighth grader,” Century softball coach Kevin Ziegler said, “she’s elevating herself quite well with us. And the eighth grader thing doesn’t even come into question with us right here.”

Maddy Zander is the starting pitcher for Century this season. She’s allowed to compete against high schoolers under a special NDHSAA provision to increase participation in some sports.

“It’s not as awkward as you think it might be,” Zander said. 

Last year, Maddy was the only seventh grader on the team, but this year there are three other eighth graders on the team. 

“I get called Baby Zander a lot,” Zander said, “or Baby Z because of my age.”

At 14 years young, Maddy competes against girls that are three and four years older than her.

“We think about that all time,” Ziegler said. “When practice is over we have to tell her to go home because she wants to throw a little more, she wants to take a little extra hitting and a little extra fielding.”

“More when I get home after the games,” Zander said. “I’m like wow. I really just did that. There all like four your years older than I am.”

Maddy’s work ethic gives the coaches confidence she can handle the stress of tight race down the stretch. And Maddy likes the pressure.

“I like having people expect a lot out of me,” Zander said. “I expect a lot out of my self. I probably expect more out of myself that people do.”

Those same people doubted Century could perform so well with no seniors and three juniors. And those doubters motivate Maddy and the Patriots.

“People thought that because we were so young and didn’t have a lot of time at the varsity level that we would be iffy,” Zander said. “I think we’ve been pretty solid.”
 

The outcome of this season is still in doubt, but expect the Patriots to be a contender for the next four years.

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