Valley News Dispatch Female Athlete of the Year: Deer Lakes' Becca Babincak
Often when high school athletes state their intent to play two sports in college, they are humored by friends and family, even coaches, who know the seemingly far-fetched objective will likely dissipate when the time comes to actually attempt both.
Many have tried and failed.
Don't tell that to Becca Babincak.
The concept isn't so outlandish to the recent Deer Lakes graduate, who made a two-sport prep career look rather easy.
She is fully committed to playing basketball and softball at Point Park, where she's accepted a dual-athletic scholarship.
A vocal leader who wasn't afraid to shoulder her team's fate — whether by taking the last shot in basketball or dropping a bunt with the bases loaded in softball — Babincak will be remembered as one of Deer Lakes' most competitive and fiery athletes.
For her efforts, she is the Valley News Dispatch Girls Athlete of the Year. Kiski Area's Maddie Antone, last year's winner, also was considered.
A dual-threat guard, Babincak finished with 1,188 career points in basketball, averaging 18 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.5 assists as a senior.
A dependable shortstop and productive leadoff hitter in softball, she hit .365 with eight stolen bases and 17 RBI this year.
Deer Lakes' basketball team was 58-13 across three years with her as a starter. A four-year starter in softball, the Lancers were 60-17 with her in the lineup.
Both teams made the playoffs three times, with softball winning a WPIAL title in 2012 and posting a runner-up finish this season.
What would you say to someone who thinks you can't do two sports in college?
They probably don't know me too well if they think that. I have been playing (multiple) sports every day of my life for as long as I can remember and I am going to have a schedule set up next year for class and practice.
What will people remember most about you as an athlete?
You would probably have to ask my coaches because they had to put up with me, but hopefully my will to win and love for the games I play.
A Deer Lakes fan quipped that boys teams at the school need to “play more like Becca.” Compliment taken?
I just love to win. I would do anything for my team but my teammates would for me, too.
What was your most memorable moment in high school sports?
That's tough, because winning (the WPIAL softball title) my junior year was unreal, but winning back-to-back (section) titles in basketball was awesome. Individually, my 1,000th (career) point was sweet.
What is your most disappointing moment?
Losing WPIALs in softball my senior year. It was tough to go out like that and knowing we were that close to back-to-back titles really made it a tough loss.
Who was your most influential coach or teammate?
It's hard to pick because I have been very fortunate with the coaches I've had. I am very thankful for (softball) coach (Craig) Taliani and (basketball) coach (Dana) Petruska. Coach Petruska was never easy on me and now I truly appreciate it. She taught us not only about how to act on the court but also in life.
What opposing athlete impressed you most?
Probably both of the pitchers (Anne Marie Gatti of Greensburg Central Catholic and Kirsten Wilson of Riverside) I saw in my junior and senior year in the WPIAL (softball) championship games. It was incredible the way they could throw a ball, the spin and how hard they could throw.
Your boyfriend is former Deer Lakes basketball standout Tim Jaczesko. What's an ideal date night?
We normally just like to hang out and watch movies and go out to eat. But we'll play hockey joking around — he's actually good — or go golfing sometimes.
Have you ever beaten Tim in one-on-one basketball?
Yeah, with my eyes closed.
Who is more competitive, you or Tim?
Probably me. I think he would agree.
Are you into the Pirates' resurgence?
Yeah, I have always been a fan. My parents always took me and my brother to games when we were younger.
In your two sports, is there a different position you wanted to try to play?
I always mess around and try to be a post in basketball but I never really mastered the moves. I tried catching because you get to be in every play, but I broke my hand after a season of doing that.
What is your favorite store at Pittsburgh Mills?
I'm not a big fan of that mall, but either Dick's or Charlotte Russe.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.