As the season progressed, a clean inning by Zach Henderson (Valdosta State) became as certain as anything. Henderson was rewarded on Tuesday, when the Florida Collegiate Summer League officially announced that Henderson had been named the 2021 reliever of the year. Henderson is the first Leesburg pitcher to win the award since 2017, when Drew Peden (FAU) won the honor for the second year in a row.
Henderson was one of the best arms out of the bullpen all season, throwing just about 15 innings while not allowing a single earned run. Henderson was lights out each and every time he stepped onto the rubber, leading the league during the regular season in saves with four. Henderson also struck out more batters (11) than base runners allowed (10) all season. If Henderson pitched, Leesburg probably won, with the Lightning holding a stellar 11-2 record in games that Henderson pitched in.
The postseason brought more of the same for Henderson, as he struck out six of the eleven batters he faced. Opponents hit just .091 against him, with just one out of the eleven batter faced reaching base. Henderson earned the save against DeLand to send the Lightning to the championship series, stifled the Diamond Dawgs in game two of the finals to keep the Lightning season alive, and, just to put a cherry on top, recorded the final out of championship series to give the Bolts their first championship since 2009.
The league continues to announce its 2021 award winners this week. You can see the updated list on the league site at http://www.floridaleague.com/view/fcsl.
Matias Weilmann (Ithaca College)