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McKeesport Daily News Spotlight Athletes: West Mifflin's Zach Fodor, McKeesport's Jess Beitler

Submitted - McKeesport softball player Jess Beitler.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>McKeesport softball player Jess Beitler.
Submitted - West Mifflin baseball player Zach Fodor.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>West Mifflin baseball player Zach Fodor.

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By Robert Stinner
Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 1:36 a.m.

Zach Fodor

Year: Junior

School: West Mifflin

Sport: Baseball

Claim to fame: Fodor hit .533 last week as the Titans completed their spring training with four games in Vero Beach, Fla. The second basemen recorded two hits and two RBI in a 13-9 victory over Penn-Trafford in the team's first game of the season in Pennsylvania and has helped the Titans to an early 4-1 start.

“Zach is a great defensive player,” West Mifflin head coach Jeff Kuzma said. “He's very good at making plays look routine. He's going to take care of those 5-10 ground balls each game. He's spectacular going either to his left or right and he really makes a great pair with our shortstop Zack Miller. Zach is also consistent at the plate. He's a great contact hitter. He doesn't strikeout a lot and always puts the ball in play.”

What do you hope to accomplish this year as a team?

Well, from my perspective, we have a good team. Our pitching and everything looks good. I really want a section title for our seniors. It's really all about the team, so I just do my job and get it done.

What aspects of playing second base do you find most challenging?

I would have to say covering for pickoffs. If we have a shift on for a pull hitter, I have to cover second and it's hard to get the timing down sometimes.

Do you play any other positions?

Occasionally I might play third or short but I don't see myself doing that this year. I'll mainly play second.

Do you have a good relationship with shortstop Zack Miller?

We've been playing together since little league and we've always had good chemistry for double plays and everything. In legion, we were averaging two or three double plays a game. He turns quickly with the ball and that makes it easier for me. It's just nice to have that chemistry. I just know everything about him basically.

— Robert Stinner

Jess Beitler

Year: Junior

School: McKeesport

Sport: Softball

Claim to fame: Beitler recorded 22 strikeouts and only two walks in the Tigers' three games in Myrtle Beach, S.C., last week. She went 3-0 as a pitcher and added an RBI double at the plate as well.

“Jess has worked very hard this year,” coach Missy Conrad said. “She's really focused on her strikeouts. She had 51 total last year and she's already at 22 so far this season. She always practices hard and spends extra time on her pitching. She hit .491 last year and is at .300 this year. She just always puts in extra time working on both offense and defense.”

What is the biggest challenge you face this year?

Probably my endurance and having to go every inning of every game. We have other pitchers as well, but unless we're winning by a lot, I'll probably go the whole game.

What are your goals for this season?

For me personally it's to get more strikeouts than last year. For our team, I really want to win a playoff game. We made the playoffs last year but we got eliminated in the first round. It was a good game but they had a lot of great hitters.

Do you have a go to pitch?

Yeah, it's definitely the curveball. It moves a lot and if you get it on the outside corner, they can rarely hit it. It's the best pitch to throw.

What is your favorite class?

Definitely Spanish. I really like it and I like learning new languages. I don't really like math or English or anything like that. That's what I'm thinking about majoring in when I go to college. I'd like to be a translator or an interpreter.

What do you enjoy most about softball?

It's just what I love to do. I've been doing it for so long, I can't imagine not doing it.

Do you have a favorite professional or college team?

Yeah, it would be Georgia. Last year they had a really good pitcher, Erin Arevalo, and I really like watching her play.

— Robert Stinner

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