July 4, 2012
This past week, Zack Godley had the opportunity of a lifetime.
Instead of playing in a traditional summer league, the Tennessee right-hander was given the chance to don the red, white and blue and pitch for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.
On the heels of a breakout season as the ace of the Volunteer pitching staff, Godley saw action in four contests for Team USA, allowing just one run and striking out eight batters in four innings as the squad took on teams from the Coastal Plain League and participated in the Prospect Classic.
"It was great," Godley said. "I'm glad Coach Serrano and Eric (Campbell) with Team USA gave me a chance to come out here and represent my country. I'm glad I got the chance to throw quite a few innings this last week. It was a great boost to my confidence heading into the fall with a new group of guys and my second year with Coach Serrano."
In addition to being able to wear USA across his chest, the Bamberg, S.C., native was able to continue his studies under Tennessee head coach and Team USA manager Dave Serrano, as well as practice and play with some of the nation's most talented players, including Golden Spikes Award finalist Carlos Rodon, All-SEC pitchers Bobby Wahl and Ryne Stanek and many others.
"It's been great playing with these guys," Godley said. "They are all top-of-the-line baseball players for their teams in college and I'm glad I got the chance to play with them."
Although he pitched well in his four appearances, Godley traveled to the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., as an alternate and will not be on the final roster as the U.S. squad travels to Cuba and the Netherlands over the next two weeks.
"Obviously we all wanted what Zack wanted, which was to be a part of this team for the duration of the tour, but decisions had to be made and some of them were tough," Serrano said. "I'm very proud of how he carried himself and represented the University of Tennessee. He will always be able to say that he wore the USA uniform and that is something to cherish for a long, long time."
Godley's stint with Team USA came about as a result of his hard work and the huge step forward he took in his progression as a pitcher for the Vols.
After appearing in 28 games out of the bullpen in his first season at Rocky Top, Godley thrived under the tutelage of Serrano, posting a 4-2 record and 3.50 ERA in 12 appearances, including 11 starts. In 69.1 innings, he struck out 53 and held opponents to a .250 batting average.
"Zack was well deserving of this opportunity," Serrano said. "He put in a lot of hard work and dedication this past season and put himself in a position to be asked to come and contribute to this team. I guarantee if you told Zack Godley two years ago that he would be pitching for Team USA in his junior year, he would have thought you were lying, but he has put himself in that mix now.
"All the credit goes to him for bringing himself to where he is at today. I'm proud that such a great young man was able to share this uniform with this team. As his coach, I was also proud that the entire coaching staff had nothing but rave reviews about his makeup, personality, character and the kind of teammate he is."