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Sisko proves to be more than a “fill-in” for Irish

Chris Federico | Thursday, April 22, 2004

Hopefully for the Irish, nobody will tell second baseman Zach Sisko that he is only supposed to be filling in.

The senior walk-on, who before 2004 had played in just 23 games over three years with the Irish, has seen significant playing time filling in at second for Steve Sollmann, who broke his jaw in a game against Villanova April 3.

“I’m doing the best I can in the meantime while [Sollmann is] out,” Sisko said. “I’m trying to make all the routine plays and do whatever I can do to help out at the plate.”

Recently, however, Sisko has done much more than that. In Notre Dame’s three-game sweep of Georgetown last weekend, Sisko was 5-for-10, including a grand slam in Notre Dame’s 9-6 win Sunday. Against Toledo Wednesday, Sisko recorded his first career four-hit game, going 4-for-5 at the plate.

Before this season, Sisko had just eight hits in his Notre Dame career. Right now – even though he has just 39 at bats on the season – Sisko is Notre Dame’s team leader in hitting with a .385 average.

“I’m just seeing the ball really well, just trying not to do too much,” he said. ” I just try to get some base hits up the middle.”

Irish coach Paul Mainieri says he can’t help but feel excited for the senior, who has toiled quietly in the shadows for four-years behind Sollmann.

“Zach Sisko is such a feel-good story, and it’s really one of the joys you get in this game of coaching,” Mainieri said. “This kid is probably the hardest working player on our team. He lives in those batting cages. He hasn’t made all the trips, he hasn’t played much in his career here, but he’s not gotten discouraged.

“He’s been a tremendous teammate, and he will always do anything you ask him to do. Now all of a sudden, you need him, and you see that with a great attitude like [he has] how well he has done.”

Being thrust into the spotlight following Sollmann’s injury has been a pleasant change for Sisko. Before this year, he may have been more concerned with getting into medical school as a College of Arts and Letters pre-professional and history major than starting every game and making every road trip with the Irish.

“Well, it’s second semester senior year, so it’s not too much of a strain,” Sisko said. “I’m trying to take care of school work, and it’s not too bad right now. But, I’m just trying to stay focused on baseball – getting to play every day, and getting enough sleep, and just being able to go out there and do the best I can.”

But Sisko says that no matter how well he plays, he knows that Sollmann – who donned a uniform in the dugout Wednesday for the first time since his injury – will be the main guy when he returns.

“I’m not in any spot to replace Sollmann,” Sisko said. “I just want to do the little things to help the team out.”