Athletes of the Week: Ben Hartz & Tara Konopka
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Last week: As he has been all season, Hartz was the star pitcher (four-hitter with 14 strikeouts) and hitter (two hits, two RBIs) for the Indians in their 4-3 WPIAL Class AA first-round playoff victory Tuesday against Waynesburg.
Check this out: Hartz, a Squirrel Hill resident, led Shady Side Academy in batting average (.489), home runs (five), RBIs (22), pitching wins (six) and strikeouts (48) in the regular season. A starter since his freshman year, he has a .520 average, 77 RBIs, 16 pitching wins and 160 strikeouts the past three seasons.
• What do you like more, being on the mound or at the plate? Tough question. Probably at the plate, to be honest.
• Why? I don't know. Just something about hitting a deep shot that feels so good.
• How did the new bats this season affect high school baseball? I thought they were going to affect us a lot more, but I checked the stats and I haven't seen much drop in home run totals or anything, so it's basically the same.
• Do you have any superstitions before, during or after games? Not really superstitions, just routine. I try to keep the same routine for every game.
• How many teams do you play for over the course of a typical spring, summer and fall during high school? Other than high school, two other teams: The Pittsburgh Diamond Dogs (Palomino) and the Mon Valley Eagles (Western Pennsylvania Elite Baseball League).
• Does anyone keep track of how many innings you throw? I'm sure they have; I'm not sure what it is, though.
• Who's going to win the Stanley Cup? Who cares? Once the Pens lost, I didn't pay much attention.
Last week: Konopka got her 14th win this season in a 3-1 victory against North Allegheny.
Check this out: Konopka, a senior right-hander, is one of the WPIAL's best softball pitchers. She is 14-4 with a 1.02 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 130 innings. She also is batting .394 with a team-high 13 RBIs.
College talk: Konopka signed with Drexel, a Division I school in Philadelphia. Peters Township also has catcher Morgan Matetic, a George Washington recruit.
• Has Matetic been your catcher for a long time? Actually, we started playing together when we were 10. She's been my catcher as long as I can remember.
• Is that an advantage? I think it is. We're best friends, too. She'll actually know what pitch I want to throw. It's gotten to the point where she can read my mind.
• Why Drexel? They had been looking at me for a while and were one of the first colleges to email me. They weren't always my No. 1, but they quickly became No. 1 after I visited there.
• Does it matter that you will be around a lot of Flyers hockey fans? I'm not that into hockey. I'm a bandwagon fan and will watch in the playoffs. But I'll still represent Pittsburgh. I'll wear a Penguins jersey.
• How much will you pay for a prom dress? I'm pretty cheap. Well, actually my parents are cheap [laugh]. But I probably wouldn't go over $400. I've heard some girls pay, like, $800. That's crazy.
• People might be surprised to know ... I started off as a dancer when I was little. I was a dancer and an ice skater. I wanted to be like [ice skater] Tara Lipinski because she had my name.
First Published May 18, 2012 8:33 pm