Athlete of the Week: Lodi's Fichtner was 'locked in' for no-hitter against Downey

Mar. 20—Andrew Fichtner was all focus last Wednesday, long before the lights flicked on at Kofu Park.

"Ever since I woke up that morning, I was locked in. Going to school, I had my headphones and hoodie on all day," the junior said. "First start of the year, under the lights, I was trying to be locked in. I went through my routine, and I basically went out there with the game plan that I would throw strikes and pound the zone as much as I can and let my defense do the work."

The result was a no-hitter in Fichtner's first varsity start for the Lodi High baseball team, in Lodi's 1-0 win over Downey. Fichtner finished with 15 strikeouts in seven innings of work, with three walks and a hit batsman.

Fichtner was so focused on the next pitch that he didn't realize right away what he'd accomplished.

"Not gonna lie, I had so much of an adrenaline rush, I was just hustling to get back in the dugout," Fichtner said. "It was probably when we were in the huddle and our coaches were talking to us, and they said, 'congratulations Ficht, you had a no-hitter today.' I was like wow. I was just in the zone all day."

Fichtner works with a four-seam fastball, a two-seamer, a 12-to-6 curveball and a slider. He also like to throw the occasional knuckleball as a freshman, but that has since fallen by the wayside in favor of his main pitches.

But if you ask him, the key ingredient in his no-hitter was the defense behind him.

"I can't be more grateful for my Lodi high defense, They stop everything," Fichtner said. "Defense is every day. Everyone's involved too. We do tons of pitcher plays on defense, and we take pride in that."

Fichtner is looking forward to the competition that the Tri-City Athletic League brings, as well as facing that challenge with his teammates.

"I'm super grateful for my team this year," he said. "I'm really looking forward to playing every game with this group of guys."

Fichtner, a Giants fan (though he hinted at a soft spot for the Padres) said he'll play a little bit of outfield, but the main focus for him is the mound. He's been playing baseball since about the time he could walk, starting organized ball with tee-ball and machine-pitch rec leagues at about five.

"I'd say about half of these guys on the varsity team I've been playing with since I was nine. We all have great chemistry, we all click," Fichtner said. "And the seniors ahead of us, they've all been playing in the same programs, so we all have that brotherhood, that connection."