Home » Sports » Back on the mound

Back on the mound

Theo is a 2022 Bay Port graduate now pitching at Bradley University, a Division I school in Peoria, Ill. Rob Lipnos photo

By Rich Palzewic

Contributing Writer

GREEN BAY – After missing his entire senior baseball season at Bay Port High School, Theo Zeidler is back to doing what he loves — pitching.

The 2022 Bay Port graduate suffered an arm injury before his senior season but is now pitching for Bradley University, an NCAA Division I school in Peoria, Illinois.

“I’m simply grateful to be back on the mound, doing what I love,” Zeidler said. “I’m having the time of my life and making tons of new friends — college has been good to me.”

The injury

You only have to go back a little more than a year ago to find a darker time in Zeidler’s baseball career — the time of his injury.

“I was playing catch with my dad,” Zeidler said. “It was the first time we got outside and just a few days before Bay Port went on its annual Florida (spring break trip). I probably didn’t warm up properly and was too anxious to get outside. I partially tore the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) in my (right) elbow.”

Because Zeidler didn’t fully tear the ligament, he opted not to have surgery.

“I talked to a few doctors, and they said I didn’t need surgery,” he said. “I got pretty lucky in the grand scheme of things — I didn’t tear it completely off the bone. I took some time to rest and rehab. I just recently got back to 100%.”

Zeidler said when the injury occurred, he immediately knew something was wrong.

“I was hurting right away,” he said. “I tried to make a few throws after that, but I knew something was wrong — I was pretty scared. After the injury, I couldn’t put on a backpack by myself, write or type — I did nothing with that arm for two months.”

After those two months, Zeidler said he was pain-free.

“I didn’t start throwing again until the summer (of 2022),” he said. “It was only light tossing from about 45 feet, and I worked up from there.”

What made it even more difficult for Zeidler was the fact the Pirates had a successful 2022 campaign — reaching the WIAA Division 1 state title game for the second consecutive season.

“It was fun being a part of it, but it was also tough to watch and not be out there competing,” he said. “When baseball was taken away from me, I had to find other things to keep that competitive fire going — I did lots of lifting, which gave me a unique opportunity to keep training throughout the season. I got a lot stronger physically. I also tried to do what I could to help mentor the younger pitchers on the roster and be a good teammate.”

Bay Port coach Harvey Knutson had nothing but praise for his former pupil.

“With the year Theo had as a junior (at Bay Port), that made it tough for him to sit out his senior year,” Knutson said. “His great junior season made for a lot of expectations for himself and the team — lots of scouting and his future plans. It was a bummer for him, especially because he loves baseball so much. He’s taken his time (in his rehab) and done it the right way.”

Knutson said Zeidler didn’t let the emotional and physical toll of the injury get him down.

“We’re talking about an all-state, Division I caliber player,” he said. “Some might have expected him to be sitting on the end of the bench hanging his head all season — Theo was the exact opposite. You wouldn’t have known he was injured based on how he acted. He was an amazing leader and a great teammate.”

Recruited to Bradley

During a baseball camp in Appleton in March 2021, Zeidler said he caught the eyes of the Bradley coaching staff.

“I did pretty well there, and after that, (Bradley) pitching coach Andrew Werner reached out to me via Twitter,” he said. “From there, we had a phone call and then eventually I went on a few visits.”

Zeidler, who topped out at 91 mph before his injury, then committed to the Braves during his junior season at Bay Port.

Impact as a freshman

After being out of competitive baseball for more than a year, Zeidler made the most of his Bradley debut on March 28 against Eastern Illinois.

“I pitched an inning in relief,” he said. “Because I had been working for so long to get back, I was hoping my first inning would go well — I wanted it to be clean.”

Clean it was.

“I struck out the first guy, the second batter popped out to right field and I struck out the third guy, too,” he said. “I threw nine pitches in that inning — that’s about as good as it could get.”

Since his first collegiate game action, Zeidler has thrown another 3 1/3 innings in three other relief appearances and given up five earned runs on eight hits.

“I wouldn’t say I’m happy with how I’m pitching,” he said. “I’m out there competing, but I know I’m better. I just threw fastballs and changeups my first few appearances, so I’ll start working in the slider soon.”

Zeidler was a starter on the mound at Bay Port, but he said until he gets more innings under his belt, he’ll pitch out of the bullpen for the Braves, who are members of the Missouri Valley Conference.

“I’ll get to a few innings and see how my body feels,” he said. “I probably won’t be a starter this season, but that’s the ultimate goal — be one of those weekend guys.”

Facebook Comments
Scroll to Top