Daily News Spotlight Athletes: Serra's Wayne Hydak, Elizabeth Forward's Portia McBride
School: Serra Catholic
Claim to fame: Hydak threw a complete-game three-hitter in a 4-1 win over California in early-season action Saturday. The senior also plays first base for the Eagles.
“Wayne has worked really hard this off-season,” coach Brian Dzurenda said. “We have two pitchers that we are going to rely on heavily this season, and he's one of them. He's one of the hardest working players I've ever had. He's very passionate about baseball. He's been working with one of our former players who plays professionally over in Italy. He's a big kid and is very poised. He's developed a good changeup and a knuckleball to go with his fastball, and that should help him tremendously. He has the potential to be an all-section pitcher, and I have high expectations for him this year.”
What pitch do you like to throw the most and why?
I like throwing my knuckleball the most just because it keeps hitters off balance because not only do they not know what kind of movement it will have, I don't really know either. I throw it pretty accurately and start it at the same place. Sometimes it breaks in, sometimes it breaks out, sometimes it rises and sometimes it drops. It all depends on how I release it.
Which do you like more, pitcher or first base?
I probably get more action at first base but pitching is more exciting, so I'd say I like pitcher better.
As far as your style of pitching, to what professional pitcher would you compare yourself?
I know this year I'm going to try to take the same mentality as Jared Hughes just because he has this intensity about him and nothing really gets to him. I want to keep my head in the game like that.
What has to happen for you to this season a success?
I would definitely love to win the section and hopefully make it into the state playoffs and do the same thing we did sophomore year and win the state championship.
What Major League slugger would you most like to face?
I would probably say Josh Hamilton. I don't know why really, but I have great respect for him.
What are your plans for next year?
I definitely would love to keep playing baseball. I'm going to study environmental sciences. I've narrowed my choices down to Juniata, Bethany and St. Vincent.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
People that first meet me seem surprised that I'm an Eagle Scout.
School: Elizabeth Forward
Claim to fame: McBride was the catalyst for the Warriors during their trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., where they went 3-0 and outscored opponents, 24-3. Last season, McBride went 17-8 on the mound and was an honorable mention all-state selection.
“Portia was the Daily News Player of the Year last year, and I expect her to repeat that performance,” coach Harry Rutherford said. “I expect her to hit her spots a little better as well. She had a great weekend down in Myrtle Beach in spring training. She played really well. In addition to pitching, she will hit in our No. 5 or 6 slot in the lineup. She worked hard over the offseason on her strength. We're looking for her to be an RBI producer this season as well. We have high expectations for her.”
Coming off last season and being named player of the year, what can you do to improve your game?
Maybe my mentality. I thought about everything a lot this offseason. I thought about the games more, and I also talked to my team a lot about how we need to be stronger this year. We were strong last year, but we obviously have to do better. I think we can do it. We definitely have the ability to go all the way this year.
What are your plans for next year?
I haven't decided between Mercyhurst Northeast and St Vincent. I do want to continue playing softball, and I want to study either biology, so I can get into zoology, or criminal justice.
What doyou use for inspiration when you pitch?
Well, I really want to make it as far as we did last year, and this is my last year of high school ball and I want to make the best of it and go all the way to the championship game. So, I think about that when I'm on the mound.
Do you have a favorite professional or collegiate sports team that you follow?
I really like the Pirates, and I really enjoy going to their games.
Do you have a favorite player?
I like Garret Jones because he's just really cute, and he's a good hitter too.
Do you think you could strike out Andrew McCutchen?
I think I might be able to strike him out but I doubt it. Baseball pitchers come over the top so I don't know. The underhand might throw him off a little bit. I'd try to throw my curve to the inside.
What do you like to do outside of school and softball?
I really like to hang out with my friends all the time. We go to movies and ice skating like down at PPG. It was fun.
— Robert Stinner