Daily News spotlight athletes

| Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 12:51 a.m.

Zach Fodor

Year: Senior

School: West Mifflin

Sport: Baseball

Claim to fame: Fodor came in to close the Titans' (14-4) 4-3 victory over Section 4-AAA in a WPIAL quarterfinal game two weeks ago. The senior, who is hitting .450, also knocked in a run.

“Zach started off playing at second and moved to shortstop at the end of the year, and he has been phenomenal,” coach Jeff Smith said. “He's very sure-handed and down to earth. He doesn't get rattled and keeps his composure. That's why I moved him into our closer role. When situations are tough, like in the Elizabeth Forward game, he is composed. He came in with the bases loaded, and even after the error, he had the composure to get two pop-ups to end the game. He is a very controlled kid, and I've told him many times this year that there is no other person I would rather have out there.”

How do you feel about your senior season?

As a team, we are extremely happy. We've always had a good group of guys, but we always fell short of making the playoffs. We wanted one last good season. The season isn't over yet, and we still have a chance to make it to the state playoffs.

What do you guys need to do to win tomorrow night?

Everyone is going to have to do their part. We have to forget about the last game and go into this one giving our all. They (Hampton) are a good team, and they're in this spot for a reason. They're a good team. We have to play to our potential.

What kind of advice would you want to leave the players who will be playing next season?

I would tell them to play like it's your last game, because before you know it, high school is over.

Who is your favorite baseball player?

That's a tough question. It switches every so often, but I would have to go with Travis Snider. I've liked the way he's played ever since he's come to Pittsburgh. In college, he was a power hitter, but now he hits for contact a lot. But he comes up in clutch situations. Last year, his average wasn't so great, but in pinch-hitting situations, he came up big. He hit a bunch of pinch-hit home runs, which I think was cool.

What are your plans for next year?

I'm going to Pitt-Greensburg to study accounting, and I am going to play baseball there, too.

What is your favorite high school baseball memory?

I would say this year in general, winning the section and this playoff run.

Lacie Lautner

Year: Sophomore

School: Thomas Jefferson

Sport: Softball

Claim to fame: Lautner pitched seven innings and struck out four to help the Jaguars to a 4-3 WPIAL semifinal victory over Greensburg Salem on Thursday. The sophomore has recorded more than 100 strikeouts in her first year as a starter.

“Lacie is unbelievably calm under pressure,” coach Heidi Karcher said. “She is one of the most coachable players I've ever had. She gets great movement on her pitches and just does not get rattled. She also has a great relationship with our catcher.”

How have you been able to handle pitching in these high-pressure playoff games?

I just try to tune everyone else out. I pretend that it's just me and my catcher, and I pretend that we're just playing catch in warm-ups.

What do you think is the most important thing for your team to focus on in the championship?

We just need to communicate and start hitting the ball. Whenever we do that, and everything comes alive, I think we will be the team to beat.

Do you have any pregame rituals?

Before every game, my friend braids my hair. Also, I have a bow that I wear to every game. I kept switching back and forth between different bows, but I finally found one that was a winner. We've won every single game since I started wearing it.

What kind of music do you like to listen to?

We have a team song we listen to: “Welcome to the Jungle.” That gets us pumped up before the game.

— Robert Stinner

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