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Pitcher perfect: Pezdek settling in for Buffalo State

by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor

Photos: Buffalo State Athletics

Buffalo State softball player Izzy Pezdek really didn’t know what to expect this season. The freshman from Grand Island High School was just hoping to contribute when her name was called on.

Pezdek has done more than just contribute. She is one of the big reasons why the Bengals (11-10, 6-2) are off to a strong start midway through the SUNYAC season.

“As a freshman with the playing time I have got, I am getting more comfortable,” stated Pezdek. “I don’t let the nerves get to me, I turn them into excitement! Also the coaches and the players have helped me feel very comfortable going out there and playing as a freshman.”

Pezdek has been doing her damage on the mound. She has appeared in 11 games with seven starts with a 1,84 earned run average. She also has gotten time in the field batting .204. While the average isn’t where she wants it, the fact Pezdek had been able to play as much as she has been a blessing.

Most freshmen don’t get a lot of playing time out of the gate. Pezdek has worked hard since committing to Buffalo State. She just didn’t want to come in and sit the bench. She wanted to make a difference for a team who has high expectations for the season.

“Yes, I am surprised (about playing time),” stated Pezdek. “I know I have been working hard all off season but there are two other great upperclassman pitchers that have been working very hard as well and have more experience at this level than I do.”

Early in the season Pezdek was splitting time with starting and coming into the game in relief. Doing both takes a different mindset. As a starter, the pitcher has a certain routine. They warm up a certain way, and just go about their business differently.

As a reliever that mindset completely changes. They just come in and start throwing gas, knowing they won’t be out there for the long haul. The Buffalo State coaching staff has done a good job letting Pezdek know when she was going to start or enter the game in the relief.

Either way, Pezdek knows she needs to be ready at a drop off a hat.

“We know before every game who is starting and who is coming in relief. With coming into relief I know through the whole game I need to be ready to go at any time. With starting I just have to go out there and throw how I know I can,” stated Pezdek. “The mindset is definitely different, starting a game it’s a fresh start, 0-0, but coming into a game we could be losing so I know then I have to do my best to not let them get a good hit. I also know what to expect from the hitters coming into a game from watching before I go in.”

Once Pezdek gets in the game it’s just pitcher attacking hitter. The same thing she has been doing her entire softball career. When Pezdek steps in the circle her mindset changes to what she needs to do to get the hitter out.

Pezdek takes note on what pitches are working for on that day. She might now have the full arsenal working, but she maybe be able to get away with a few that can get the hitter out. At the end of the day, Pezdek knows how to pitch. She was a great pitcher at Grand Island, and that is translating over to the collegiate level.

“My mindset is to just stay calm and relaxed and throw how I know I can,” stated Pezdek. “When thinking about the next hitter, I take inconsideration what pitches are working and what are not, what pitches have been hit, and definitely making sure I’m hitting my spots.”

In the batters box, it’s been a little different. Pezdek was nervous the first few times she to went up to hit. She was like any freshmen just trying to find her way at the plate, and seeing what the pitches were throwing.

As she stands in the on deck circle, Pezdek has a plan. She is watching what the pitcher is throwing. She is trying to get her timing down. Pezdek isn’t going to go up there and hit bombs every time she steps to the plate. That isn’t her job.

She will, however, take pitchers deep in the count, and come up clutch when called upon. That’s something she had done throughout the season so far.

“Going up there as a freshman I was definitely nervous the first few times, but now with hitting in a bunch of games it just feels normal,” stated Pezdek. “Before I’m up I watch the pitcher, I try to get my timing down, and think about the mechanics I need to do, and girls up before me are able to tell me and others what to look for; but when I’m in the batters box I try not to overthink while up there and just hit the ball.”

As the season continues, Pezdek knows she will have peaks and valleys, that’s the nature of softball. There will be dips every season where a player might need to figure it out a little bit. She knows if there is a little dip that she can’t let it get to her.

Pezdek will just keep working hard to be the best softball player she can be.

“I need to continue on working hard in practices. Take the struggles I have in games and perfect them in practice,” stated Pezdek. “If a dip comes at some point in the season, I know I can’t let it get to me, I have to be able to work out of it with the help of my coaches and teammates.”

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