By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
— TURBOTVILLE -- From his days of childhood, Derrick Zechman garnered an appreciation for fastpitch softball.
"Growing up I watched my dad play fastpitch and that not only got me to like the game but to learn the game as well," he said.
Last September, the 1998 Warrior Run high school graduate, who has been playing fastpitch softball since he was 16-years-old, was one of 18 players selected to USA Men's Fastpitch softball team.
"It was an unbelievable honor," Zechman said of being named to the team. "I had a good season, I made the all-world team, but its not like there's a lot of roster space. I was very happy and fortunate to be selected."
Zechman plays fastpitch for PA Power, a team based out of Harrisburg. The team plays between 40 and 50 games a year from the middle of May through August.
Team USA leaves on Feb. 22 for the 10-day Men's World Softball Championships tournament in New Zealand where the top 16 teams from a field of 127 will compete for a spot in the title game on March 10.
According to USA head coach Pete Turner, who is also the head coach for the women's softball team at San Jose State University, Zechman was being looked at over the past couple of years as a potential team member.
"We recruit a year to two years in advance and we pared our final roster from around 30 players from across the country at tryouts in Ashland, Ohio, in July," Turner said. "We are an offensively oriented team and we liked how Derrick moved the ball. He has good pop in his bat, he had a good camp.
"We've been following Derrick for some time and we thought he would make a good contribution to the ball club."
Zechman, 33, who will play either third or first base for Team USA, played other sports besides softball including midget and junior high football along with wrestling and baseball for Warrior Run.
But fastpitch has always been his game.
"I went right to work out of high school in the mortgage business and I've been in that field ever since," he said. "I had some opportunities to pursue a baseball career, but the job and playing fastpitch took over."
Zechman was able to play fastpitch with his dad Rick on the Forest Hill team which was based in the Mifflinburg area.
"It was great to be able to play on the same field with my dad and my younger brother Justin," he said. "Playing softball began as a recreation and it was good competition. I liked playing in tournaments and it got to the point where I was enjoying it as much as baseball. But I never though it would get to this level."
Zechman's journey to the national team started in 2003 in Virginia when he was noticed by a coach who helped him to get to the major level of softball, the highest form of fastpitch in the country.
"I knew that we had a national team when I first started at the major level, but I did not know what the process was to be selected," Zechman said.
Zechman has been named most valuable player of tournaments and won championships, but nothing compares to putting the USA uniform for the first time.
"It was unbelievable," he said. "Just to have USA across the chest and to be representing your county -- I can't wait to tell my son Cohen (5) about it when he's a bit older."
Zechman noted that he had a goal of making the USA team and now that he's a part of it, he wants to contribute more.
"I want to come home with a medal, that would be the overall goal of the trip to New Zealand," Zechman said.
Coach Turner played on two silver-winning teams in the world championship.
"Listening to someone else's national anthem is not a great feeling," he said.
Zechman is hoping to change that fortune come March 10.