Daily News spotlight athletes: Steel Valley's Brandon Donovan, Serra Catholic's Hannah Pitchford
School: Steel Valley
Claim to fame: Donovan tossed a one-hitter with 15 strikeouts and also homered and had four RBIs to lead Steel Valley to a 1-0 win over Apollo-Ridge last week in the WPIAL Class AA first round. He followed that Saturday with a 3-for-5 effort that included a single, double and two-run homer in a 14-7 win over Riverside in the quarterfinals. Steel Valley (16-2) plays Quaker Valley on Wednesday in the WPIAL semifinals.
“His game against Apollo-Ridge was the most dominant performance I've seen since I've been coaching,” coach Tim Vickers said. “What is most impressive is that he did that in 80 pitches. He got our offense going in the next playoff game with a home run in his first at-bat. He had three hits and four RBIs and helped pace our offense. Whenever he has a chance to make something happen he does.”
What were you thinking about during the 13-strikeout game?
I was aware that I was having a pretty good game. I just went out every inning just trying to do whatever I could to help my team.
What do you think allowed you to have such a dominant game?
I have full trust in the team behind me. I have a lot of confidence in my defense and I want to give them the best outing I have every game. I do the same thing before every game. I try to stay calm and have fun.
Would you rather get a game-winning hit or strikeout?
That's a tough one. I think I would have to go with a game-winning strikeout. I think it feels pretty cool walking off the field with my team after one of those.
School: Serra Catholic
Sport: Track and field
Claim to fame: Pitchford qualified for the PIAA championship by placing fifth in the shot put with a throw of 36 feet, 7 inches, at the WPIAL meet in only her first year of throwing.
“Unfortunately, Hannah has had some trouble with injury,” throwing coach Anthony Corso said. “She is a natural at shot put. We noticed that she had real talent and she is very coachable — enough to get her to throw well enough to qualify for states. She is always the first one at practice and the last to leave. She wants to be the best, and I think she can be by the end of her senior year.”
What made you want to start throwing?
A bunch of my friends were doing track and they convinced me to try it out. I didn't think I was going to be good at it but I gave it a go and I ended up being decent.
Did you really teach yourself how to shot put by watching YouTube?
Before track season started I did look at videos to learn techniques. My coaches tweaked a lot of my form and things like that. They were a huge help.
Why did you pick shot put?
Well, I tried shot put and discus and I wasn't that good at discus. But with shot put, I threw it pretty far so I decided to work on that. What do you do to train for each meet?
For meets I practice every day. My coach will set up different exercises and different things to work on my technique and to make me stronger. I do that every day and I then I throw every day. That's basically it.
What do you like to do outside of track?
I go to the gym a lot and I like to read and hang out with my friends. I am also really into sports.
— Robert Stinner