Pressure a pleasure for Rogers' star senior shortstop
At age 8, Lana Van Dyken took up fastpitch, thinking it was just another sport to try.
She never expected it would be her ticket to college.
Van Dyken, the Rogers Rams’ star senior shortstop, will play next season at North Carolina State.
First, she hopes to make a fourth consecutive trip to the Class 4A state playoffs.
That journey begins with this weekend’s West Central District III fastpitch tournament at Sprinker Recreation Center. Third-seeded Rogers faces Battle Ground at 10 a.m. today.
“I feel very confident with our team right now,” Van Dyken said. “Coming into districts, our bats are really alive, and I hope we can keep with it and have good hits.”
Van Dyken, who has stolen 17 bases and is batting .462, is one of the hottest hitters on the Rams. She hit her first high school home run at last weekend’s league tournament.
The pressure to keep hitting – and winning – is even greater now that she’s at the end of her high school career.
“But then I think about the team, and I take a deep breath,” she said. “I love the game and the environment – and I like the pressure.”
And she likes her sports. Van Dyken, who earned first team all-league honors and was named team captain last season, plays in a traveling league with the Washington Lady Hawks, and plays volleyball and basketball at Rogers. She also swims and plays Ultimate Frisbee for fun.
“I’m always at the gym trying to better myself as a ballplayer,” she said, noting that she’s extremely competitive. “At practice, I always want to hit a few extra balls.
“Throughout everything in my life, softball has always been a constant for me.”
Jacy Ramsey, who is in her eighth year coaching the Rams, said Van Dyken has the drive of an elite player.
“She wants extra work and wants to work on every area,” Ramsey said. “You know if a player has a passion for the game based on how hard they work on an everyday basis – and her passion and drive show that she loves the game.”
Van Dyken said she chose North Carolina State over Minnesota and Sonoma State. She’s said she’s looking forward to the challenge of playing at that level.
“It’s going to be quite an adjustment, but I think I’m independent enough,” she said. “I’m excited to go there.”
Ramsey said the biggest challenge for high school players to make the jump to the college ranks is playing solid defense.
“And that’s exactly what Lana is,” she said. “She knows the game, she wants to make the hard plays and she puts in the effort to be able to do that.”
Van Dyken said she tries to lead by example with “hard work and a positive attitude.” She’s one of three infielders, along with second baseman Courtney Johnston and third baseman Sydney Norris, to have played varsity since their freshman year.
The team’s defense, Ramsay said, will be the key for Rogers to improve on its second-round elimination in last year’s state playoffs.
“I loved knowing that I could play at that level with those people around me,” Van Dyken said. “I definitely matured a lot during that time.
“It would be a complete honor and a blessing to win a state title. Just the perfect ending to my senior year.”