It was Craig Tyteca who suggested his 8-year-old daughter throw her first pitches.

"Her team needed a pitcher and her dad said, 'Put Shelbi in,'" Lori Tyteca recalled. "'She can at least work through it.'"

The Viewmont senior has been working her way through tough situations ever since she carried the load for her young team as a second-grader.

A four-year starter, Tyteca led the Vikings to a second-place finish in the 5A state tournament with consistently top-

notch pitching and timely hitting. Her ability to play her best when the games mattered most, as well as her on- and off-field work ethic, earned her this year's Deseret News Ms. Softball Award.

"She wants to win," said Viewmont coach Tiffany Randall. "She thrives on pressure. She's such a standout player, she steps up her game when the pressure is on."

The four-year starter graduated with high honors and accepted a scholarship to Utah State University to play softball for the Aggies.

"She never played like a freshman," said Randall of the quiet, unassuming teen. "Her ability was always above freshman level when she came in … her work ethic is awesome. She does all of the little things that you would expect. She knows the pressure is on; she knows she can't slack off."

The second of four daughters — all of whom play softball — Shelbi Tyteca is "super shy." She is also super competitive and developed both her skills at the plate and in the circle, as well as her mental game.

"I have seen her develop," said Lori Tyteca. "In the past, an error would happen and that would be hard for her to recover from. Her confidence has changed a lot since she was a freshman."

Randall said she has both great ball movement and softball intelligence. And Shelbi Tyteca has the kind of focus that allows her to concentrate almost completely on the pitch she's throwing at that moment.

"She doesn't like to play a numbers game," her mom said. "She likes to just do her things."

Her "thing" allowed her to break a state record with 23 strikeouts in a single game (11 innings). In addition to leading the team's defense, she notched a .361 batting average with a .510 on-base percentage and a .681 slugging percentage. She was walked 20 times and smacked five home runs, one of those to tie the team's semifinal game against Bingham High School.

"She's just a threat both offensively and defensively," Randall said. "You don't always see that as a pitcher … She has charisma out there; she's so strong. She knew what to throw the batter."

Tyteca has played a lot of sports, but softball is her passion. She also enjoys pheasant hunting. She will pitch to her older sister, Shasta, next season in practice, as the elder Tyteca is already an Aggie. Her mom expects her skills will get even better, but doesn't expect her personality to change.

"She goes out and pitches," Lori said as she watched Shelbi pitch a softball game for an accelerated team. "She likes to pitch because she doesn't have to talk."

Randall said the team benefited from her skill but also from her no-nonsense attitude.

"She is bound and determined to find a way to win," she said. "Both Spanish Fork games, she played summer ball with a lot of those girls and she wasn't going to take a loss ... This year she just really stepped it up."

E-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com

MS. SOFTBALL

Shelbi Tyteca, Viewmont

An honor student headed to USU, Shelbi Tyteca broke a state record for strikeouts in a single game with 23 against Syracuse in 11 innings. She also amassed a .361 BA, .681 slugging percentage and smashed five home runs en route to a second-place finish in the 5A State Softball Tournament.