Game day is kind of a big deal for Tyler Grashoff.
"As soon as I wake up, I take a cold shower to get me focused," said Grashoff, a senior picther for the Bethel Park High School team. "From that point on, all I'll do is focus on the game and how I will go about attacking all the batters I'll face."
A 6-foot, 160-pound left-handed pitcher, Grashoff returns as a headliner among the Black Hawks' veteran roster this season.
"Once Tyler gets to school the morning of a game, he has a big grin on his face," Bethel Park coach Tony Fischer said. "He's a competitor and he competes with intensity.
"On the mound, he's focused and poised. There's a natural competitive nature he brings and it ends up rubbing off on the rest of the team."
As a junior, Grashoff posted a 6-0 record with a 1.45 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 38 innings. He helped Bethel Park capture a Section 3-AAAA title and finish 18-3 after losing to Central Catholic in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs last spring.
"Tyler went out and competed last year," Fischer said. "He won some big section games for us. End result -- we went out to win a section title and ultimately tried to make a run in the WPIAL playoffs."
Already committed to play baseball next season for Alderson-Broaddus College, an NCAA Division II program in Philippi, W.Va., Grashoff made his first appearance this season against Fox Chapel on Saturday. Despite allowing just one hit and striking out eight batters through five scoreless innings, Grashoff did not earn the decision during the Black Hawks' 7-4 non-section victory.
"As far as preparation goes, Tyler puts a lot of time in during the offseason," Fischer said. "He follows his pitching program and knows what to do to get better. That really helps him and it is breeding success for the rest of the team."
Grashoff's offseason preparation apparently paid off the most before his junior season. Making his varsity debut as a sophomore, Grashoff quickly learned how gaining confidence would be his biggest obstacle.
"It's all about the mental part of the game," Grashoff said. "The first time you pitch in a varsity game is unlike any other game you pitch in.
"Luckily, I did well against Canon-Mac. If I went in there and blew up, I would have become more nervous on the mound. I was able to get through that outing and ended up pitching well my next game against Peters Township."
Fischer also remembers Grashoff's first relief appearance.
"He was pretty nervous and his knees were shaking in the bullpen," Fischer said. "He went on to pitch three scoreless innings.
"His confidence was able to build and he won a game that year. He went on and became our workhorse last year. We hope he can replicate that as well this year."
Besides Grashoff, Fischer welcomes back three more left-handed starting pitchers in seniors Luc Cox and Logan Corrigan and sophomore Corey Augenstein. Cox is a California University of Pennsylvania recruit and went 5-0 with 26 strikeouts as a junior, while Corrigan is a James Madison recruit.
Bethel Park's pitching staff also has depth in senior right-handed relief pitchers Dakota Forsyth, Dave Lemley and Ben Ashton.
"Tyler needs to establish his strike zone early in games," Fischer said. "He's going to need to keep his pitch count down.
"He's a complete-game pitcher. If he can continue to throw strikes early in games and keep the ball in play, we have confidence in the guys behind him and know he can go seven innings."
Weather permitting, Bethel Park (2-0) has one more week of non-section play before jumping into its Section 5-AAAA schedule against Upper St. Clair on April 5.
"We have to stay confident and not get cocky," Grashoff said. "We're senior-heavy and we want to win. We have a lot of leadership in our seniors and we get the team going and focused.
"We don't want to get into any games and lay down mentally. Every team is going to come after us. Our offense needs to click, get runs and support our pitchers."