FORTVILLE — It didn’t take long for former Mt. Vernon pitcher Zach Spears to realize just how different college baseball is from the high school game.

Dominating with low-90 mph fastballs in high school, Spears was quickly forced to adjust at a level where virtually every hitter can take him deep.

After earning All-Hoosier Heritage Conference honors as a senior for the Marauders, Spears, who led Hancock County with 76 strikeouts in 2014, was thrust into the Division I spotlight at Miami (Ohio) University.

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As a raw freshman, the 6-foot-7 left-handed Spears led the RedHawks in total innings pitched (70) and was second on the team with 59 strikeouts. He also was the team’s regular Sunday starter, putting him up against Miami’s toughest non-conference and Mid-American Conference opponents.

Spears, who also played football and basketball at Mt. Vernon, elected to attend college after brief talks with one Major League Baseball organization (Seattle Mariners) after high school. He will become draft eligible again after his junior season.

By the numbers

Zach Spears Freshman Pitching Statistics – Miami University (Ohio)

Team Record: 27-29, 14-10 MAC

Innings Pitched: 70 (led team)

Wins/Losses: 1-9

ERA: 5.53

Hits: 76

ER: 43

Strikeouts: 59 (second on team)

Walks: 42

Doubles: 10

HR: 4

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Kris Mills is a sports reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 317-477-3230 or