It’s hard being a pitcher.
Devyn Dydak knew that when she first stepped into the circle. And every time the recent Nazareth Academy High School senior uncorked a throw, she knew what she was doing isn’t easy.
She also knew it was exactly what she wanted to do. She wanted to be the Pandas’ pitcher.
“Pitching is hard and it’s not something everyone wants to do,” said Dydak, who was Nazareth’s pitcher for the past three seasons after seeing spot duty as a freshman. “If it was easy, everyone would want to do it. It’s hard, and there is a lot of pressure on you because you have the ball. But me? I love it. It’s the only thing I want to do.
“Doing it anywhere is hard, and it’s hard pitching at Nazareth, but it’s easier here because of the team around me. We have so many great players who pick you up when you need it. I loved being a pitcher for Nazareth. I love playing with this team.”
With Dydak in the circle, the Pandas certainly had a memorable year.
They won the Catholic Academies League. They went on to win the District One Class 4A championship and won a first-round state playoff game together. The season came to an end on Thursday when the Pandas fell to Honesdale 5-2 in a quarterfinal game.
But just like it did all season, Nazareth showed fight until the final out was recorded. The Pandas actually fell behind 5-0 going into the final inning and were able to extend the season by scoring two runs before the run ended.
Nazareth finished the season 15-3 and, along the way, enjoyed many great memory-making experiences, some of them that will last forever.
“We had a lot of big moments, but the best game for me was when we beat Villa Maria,” Dydak said, talking about the game when the Pandas avenged their only loss in Catholic Academies League play and in the process clinched the league championship when they won 13-6 early last month. “That was good because they beat us, and we needed that one to win the league. This was the year we had to do it. We’ve been working for this season since we got here.”
Next year, the Pandas return talented players. They have good hitters and leadership at key positions. The biggest might be catcher, where this year sophomore Timoney Lamplugh worked with Dydak to call the game.
According to Dydak, Lamplugh made her a better pitcher.
“She did a great job, especially blocking the ball and making sure she always came up with it,’ Dydak said. “She’s really smart, and she was very easy to work with. I could tell when the ball was coming out of my hand if it was going to be tough for her to handle, but she always came up with it. She made it a lot easier for me.”
Next year, Lamplugh will return behind the plate, but the Pandas will need someone to take over at pitcher. Dydak will stay in the area, but she’s moving just a short distance to Holy Family.
There, she’s going to study nursing. While she’s had some contact with the school in regard to continuing her softball career, she hasn’t decided if she wants to play there. She still loves the sport, but she knows she’ll be very busy with her studies so she’s not sure if she’ll be able to put in the time to succeed at the next level.
“Softball is a huge commitment and if I play, I’m going to give it everything I have,” said Dydak, who plans to play travel this summer to stay sharp. “My academics will come first. I’m going to college to become a nurse, and that’s my main focus.
“I love biology and I want to be a nurse because I know I can help people. My dream job would be to work at (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). I would really like to help people there, help kids. I learned about that because I did Nazathon, and they raise money for that. I participated in it, I danced for 12 hours. It was fun helping that way, but I want to help them in other ways, too. Plus, a nursing shift is 12 hours so I know I can stay on my feet that long.”
Dydak is looking forward to a summer off before heading to college, but she’s certainly going to miss playing with her teammates at Nazareth.
Because she’ll be essentially next door to her high school, she plans to return to watch her younger teammates play next year. But she’s glad she had a great final year to spend with her Panda mates.
“We’re all very close, so it is more fun to win when you’re on a team like this,” said Dydak, who is in the French club and plays the piano. “I love the school. It’s a small school, so we all became really good friends. I like that about Holy Family, too. This was home.”