KOLIN Zimmer tried as much as possible to ignore the personal milestone staring right at him.
With his Jackson County team ahead 1-0 over Clarke Central in the seventh inning last Wednesday, Zimmer’s mind was foremost on preserving the Panthers’ precarious lead over the Gladiators, not closing out a no-hitter.
“When I was going into the seventh inning, I wasn’t even thinking about the no-hitter,” Zimmer said.
OK, maybe he was a little bit.
“Of course, I was thinking about it because I hadn’t given up any hits,” he said, “but I was really worried more about keeping the one-run lead and just getting a win and I just didn’t want to blow a good pitching performance and get a loss.”
There would be no disappointment on this night.
Zimmer finished off Clarke Central in the seventh — forcing a ground out for the final out — to record his first win of the season and celebrate the no-hitter with his teammates.
Zimmer’s no-hitter is the first at Jackson County in quite some time. Ironically, Tim Whisnant threw the last Panther no-hitter on March 7, 2001 against Apalachee — 11 years to the day that Zimmer threw his.
Zimmer’s final stat line included six strikeouts and four walks. He faced 25 batters. This was Zimmer’s first no-hitter in any level of baseball. The thought of a no-hitter starting creeping in during the fifth inning when he saw all those zeros posted in the scorebook, he said. Though Zimmer tried not to focus too much on that feat, the weight of the moment was finally upon him when it came down to the final out.
“It was really nerve-racking,” Zimmer said. “I was shaking real bad, but it was a good feeling. I was pretty confident at that point. I had been pitching well all day and my defense had been making plays behind me.”
Zimmer got Philip Trandel to ground out to second base to end the game and solidify his spot in Jackson County history. Zimmer said he was “shocked and surprised” when he realized what he’d done.
“I didn’t know how to react,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Zimmer’s no-hitter is the biggest highlight, so far, in his two-year stint with the Jackson County baseball program. He is originally from Tipp City, Ohio, where he pitched on the junior varsity as a freshman and sophomore at Tippecanoe High School.
Panther coach Tommy Fountain said knew he was getting a transfer with some experience at a good program when Zimmer arrived as a junior.
“But you never know what to expect with move-ins, especially when they’re coming from somewhere a long ways away,” Fountain said. “So for every one that fizzles out, you get one that turns out. He’s been a great addition to our program. He’s a Bulldog out there on the mound.”
Fountain said Zimmer was just a two-pitch pitcher last year coming out of the bullpen. This year, as a starter, he has added a change-up and cutter to go with his fastball and curveball. Fountain said Zimmer’s cutter is the major difference this year.
“His cutter has really become his strikeout pitch,” Fountain said. “I think he struck out four of the six guys on it (Wednesday).”
Zimmer is part of a Panther pitching staff that has only surrendered eight runs over the last four games. While no one is ringing up gaudy numbers on the radar gun, the staff has more quality arms with Zimmer in the rotation.
“We still don’t got that one guy throwing it 90, so that means you better have a lot of depth and be able to run a lot of guys out there and adding him has definitely done that,” Fountain said.
Moving forward, Zimmer — who also plays basketball — hopes to play college sports after he leaves Jackson County. As for this year, he believes this Panther team, which is riding a four-game winning streak, can have a big year.
He’s already provided one huge highlight.
“I think our team can be something special, and I just want to do whatever I can to help,” Zimmer said.
CORRECTION: It was earlier reported that Zimmer's no-hitter was believed to be the first at Jackson County in 25 years. Tim Whisnant threw a no-hitter March 7, 2001 for Jackson County in a 6-0 win over Apalachee.