Turks Super-Utility Man Returns To Wingate For Showcase

By Greg Madia
Daily News-Record

Photo by Daniel Lin/DN-R

HARRISONBURG – There’s a lesson Zach Little learned when he began playing baseball that has stuck with him throughout his playing career.

“My Dad always said, “There’s two positions – you’re on the field or you’re off the field,” Little said. “So he taught me how to play them all and it helps.”

The Harrisonburg Turks utility man has appeared at first base, second base, third base and all three outfield spots during his first summer with the squad. A rising senior at Division II Wingate, Little mostly plays first base for theBulldogs, but his value to the Turks is his ability to shift all around the diamond.

Versatility plus his .288 average, 13 stolen bases and 13 RBIs sent him to the Valley Baseball League All-Star game earlier this month, and earned him a spot on the VBL’s Soouthern Collegiate Showcase roster.

That event begins today — coincidentally at Wingate on Little’s college home field — as the Valley’s best will battle the Florida Collegiate Summer League All-Stars today at 7 p.m. and the Sunbelt League team on Tuesday at 4:00.

Harrisonburg is represented by Little, second baseman Austin Embler (UNC-Greensboro) and pitchers Kyle Arjona (University of New Orleans) and Rafe Schindler (University of New Orleans). Turks skipper Bob Wease will manage the team.

“Little will play somewhere,” Wease. “Wherever we need him.”

And Little said he came into the VB with that exact attitude in order to see as much playing time as possible.

Of the Turks’ 13 position players, only Little, catcher Andrew Llewellyn (Wingate) and infielder Luke Nussman (Shenandoah) aren’t on Division I rosters during the spring and to get as many at-bats as Little wanted he needed to be willing to play anywhere.

This past spring at Wingate, he hit .296 with one home run and 12 steals.

“I just wanted to play and see what I could do,” Little said. “They say it’s a very good league, so I wanted to see what I could do out here.”

Little said his favorite position is center field and that he could also play shortstop if the Turks needed him to.

“He’s a gamer. I love him and he’s my kind of ballplayer,” Wease said.

He’s my kind of guy. He gives you whatever he’s got, and that’s all you want, for someone to give you 100 percent.”

The 6-foot, 200-pounder said he’s already spoken to coaches and teammates back at Wingate about the showcase. He expects plenty of support. His hometown of Troutman, N.C. is only about an 90 minutes from Wingate.

“My coaches, people taking summer school and I’ll have a lot of family there, so that’ll be fun,” Little said. “It’s exciting.”

“Hopefully I can get out there, and there should be scouts there, but hopefully I can play good and show what I can do.”

Little said as the super-utility man becomes more and more important in pro ball, that scouts recognize he can do anything in the field but pitch and catch.

Last year, the Valley Baseball League went 2-0 at the same showcase when it was held at Intimidators Stadium in Kannapolis, N.C., by beating the Cal Ripken League, 3-2, and the Southern Collegiate Baseball League 6-0.

“We’re going to try to win two games like we did last year,” Wease said. “It’s all about winning down there and letting the kids get shown. But we need to win to show that the Valley League is better than the other leagues.”