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10-year-old Columbus resident gem on the diamond

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IT wasn’t long after Zachary Wager’s travel baseball squad finished its team dinner that the 10-year-old Columbus resident had slipped out to the parking lot to play.

What did he play?

Baseball, of course.

Since March, Wager has played more than 75 organized baseball games and countless sandlot games.

“He’s got the love of baseball in him,” said his mother, Michelle Wager. “He’s always looking for a ball and a bat, and when he can’t find the bat he picks up a stick.”

“He has put a lot of time and dedication into the sport.”

Although he is only 10, Zachary Wager has learned how to make the most of his time. He recently was selected to the United States Specialty Sports Association 9U Great Lakes All-American eam. He is the only Indiana player on the squad that begins play Friday at the ESPN Complex at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The tournament runs through Sunday.

He impressed the team’s coaching staff during a tryout session in Cincinnati.

“I didn’t think I could make it,” Zachary Wager said. “Getting to play with some of the best around the area is real cool.”

Zachary will be pitching for the squad, but he has experience at first base, catcher and center field, as well.

But on the mound is where he probably has shown the most power.

“I love striking people out,” he said. “It’s so different from the other positions because everyone  is counting on you.”

Offensively, he has been a steady .400-plus average hitter. He has played for numerous teams, including the Bartholomew County Little League 8U squad, the Indiana Irish, the Blazers and currently the Indiana Vipers as a member of its 9U Red Team.

“He can’t seem to get enough of it,” Michelle Wager said. “He has been playing since he was 4. It’s just been a part of his life.”

Getting to play at Disney World with the Great Lakes 9U team will be another bonus.

“I’m ready to see the competition,” Zachary Wager said. “All of the guys will be really good, so I’m excited to show all of them what I can do.”

“He’s real excited,” Michelle Wager said. “We’ve been to Disney World before, but we haven’t been to the Complex. It’s going to be a new and fun experience for us.”

It will be strictly a baseball trip, no rides at Disney World this time.

“It won’t matter to him,” Michelle Wager said. “As long as he plays baseball, he’s going to be just fine.”

Nathan Wager, Zachary’s father and a Vipers assistant coach, said that trying out for the All-American team was difficult.

“He made a good impression on them,” Nathan Wager said. “He threw a bunch of real good pitches during tryouts, and to say that he’s the only 9 and under player from Indiana selected is incredible.”

Vipers head coach Tim Denny said Zachary Wager is more than just a good hitter or pitcher.

“He can bring an unreal energy to the team,” Denny said. “He can keep the mood light around the dugout with the team, but when it comes to baseball, he takes it very serious.”

Denny, who has coached Zachary for two seasons, said his work ethic helps his teammates succeed.

“He has an incredible passion for the game,” Denny said. “You could’ve put him on the all-star team just by his heart, but when he’s at the plate, he’s just a crafty individual.”

It’s safe to say that Zachary Wager would rather be on a baseball field than anywhere else.

“He’s put in at least 20 hours a week for baseball,” Nathan Wager said. “He doesn’t care, he would put 40 hours in if we let him, that’s just how passionate he is with the game.”

So it only goes to figure that he is excited going into Friday’s tournament.

“I’m ready to have fun,” Zachary Wager said. “I’m more excited about making new friends that love baseball like I do.”

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