MADISON TOWNSHIP – As north central Ohio baseball programs go, Madison is among the best.
In Doug Rickert’s 18 years as the head coach, he’s sent 39 to play baseball in college, yet only four to major college baseball. Wednesday afternoon, the Rams added a fifth when senior Zane Harris signed to play at Wright State.
“I know his goal was always to be a Division I baseball player,” Rickert said. “I know his mother and father and brother put in countless hours to make that happen. They have their own hitting cage in the backyard and they spend most of their summers away (traveling with baseball teams) so that he can do that.”
Harris joins Dan Lunsford (Ohio), Ricky Marshall (Austin Peay), Cory Rupert (Ohio State) and Rory Meister (Ohio State) as Rickert’s Division I signees.
“It means a lot,” Harris said of joining such company. “The family has been there a lot for me and it’s nice for it to be in the one percent that plays D-I ball. It’s nice to sign with a school that I know is going to like me and take me in.”
Rickert said most people don’t understand just how hard it is to play at the highest level in college and the commitment it takes to get there. Harris grew up playing baseball since he was old enough to hold a bat. Over the years he’s played in about 400 travel baseball games.
“This is a kid that has put a great deal of time in and loves to hit,” Rickert said, adding, “I think he gave them a lot back today with his scholarship.”
Harris has been a fixture in the Rams lineup. Last year, he batted .424 with three home runs, 31 RBI and 25 runs scored, as Madison made it to the Division I regional at Bowling Green State University.
Wright State’s staff was onto him early and Harris was sold. He committed early to the Raiders after only Cincinnati had made an offer as well.
“I really believe with his size and his bat that he has a chance, if he continues to work, to make it even to the next level and it’s not easy to do. He’s got a great swing being 6-foot-5 and left-handed, and he loves it to death which helps,” Rickert said.
The Raiders went to the NCAA regional finals, losing to Illinois to finish with a 43-17 record. The current first baseman was a freshman All-American, but he could get drafted. There is always the possibility of being a designated hitter, his father Mark Harris said.
“It just fit me well. It’s not too big. I like it and it’s a good program,” said Zane, who will major in business.
Rickert said he’s humble despite his place among the program’s greats.
“He represents everything we strive for here at Madison,” the coach said. “He’s a hard worker for baseball. He’s gotten good grades. He’s stayed clean and out of trouble.”