Bryce Dyrda is never idle.
When the Oakdale High junior isn’t hurling fastballs over 90 miles-per-hour, he’s swinging a bat, lifting a black medicine ball with his throwing arm or extending his limbs with taut medical bands attached to the dugout fence.
And that’s just in between innings.
The Junior Olympic phenomenon and longtime ace of California’s competitive youth baseball scene approaches his hardball career like a mad-at-the-batter scientist.
Dyrda’s knowledge of the game, his own body and the college recruitment process were key factors that led to his March 29 verbal commitment to accept a generous scholarship to play baseball at the University of Southern California.
“The USC staff and I agreed on a scholarship that was mutually beneficial,” Dyrda said on Saturday. “I had visited UCLA, Stanford and USC, and I just fell in love with the USC campus and program.
“They have a great history of college baseball and their tradition runs so deep in that school. It’s something that really appealed to me.”
Dyrda said his recruitment was engineered by first-year head coach Dan Hubbs, a former pitching coach at Cal who mentored some of the top arms in the Bears’ school history.
Much of Hubbs’ recruitment involved Dyrda’s success with the NorCal Valley Baseball Club and coach Mike McNeil. Dyrda said Hubbs contacted McNeil, who set up a phone call between the two and paved the way for Dyrda’s visit to the dazzling Los Angeles campus.
The commitment is expected to prequel Dyrda’s official signing with the school next year. He will look to aid a bullpen that has amassed a collective 4.54 earned-run-average thus far in 2013 with an 11-15 showing against NCAA opponents.
Dyrda has been a tenacious force on the mound for OHS this year. He tossed a no-hitter with 14 strikeouts on March 8 and has surrendered only four combined earned runs in five consecutive starts (4-1). Dyrda downed nine hitters via strikes in a five-inning one-hitter as Oakdale (8-5 overall, 3-1 Valley Oak League) blasted Kimball (9-2-1, 2-2) 11-0 on March 28. The Jaguars were unbeaten on the season before their two-game series with Oakdale.
With a commitment out of the way, Dyrda can focus on his prep career as he strives to become the first player in school history to win four straight Sac-Joaquin Section titles.
“I think it would be really awesome to win these next two,” Dyrda said. “I would feel like I was really able to leave my own legacy here.”
It’s a lofty goal considering the talent of Division IV SJS teams, but Oakdale has won five of the last six SJS banners in the division and has another stacked lineup of hitters and pitchers.
Dyrda is a solid hitter, but reached stardom with a superb repertoire of pitches that includes a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, curveball, changeup and slider. The throws explode from a 5 foot, 10 inch frame with an unreal mix of velocity and control. It’s a talent deeply involved in Dyrda’s scientific understanding of his own mechanics.
“It is really important to do the right sorts of conditioning and strengthening of your elbows, arm and your core,” Dyrda said. “All of your core comes from your legs, which ties back to programs I did with coach McNeil.
“The bands I stretch with are really important for anyone playing baseball, and especially for a pitcher who needs so much torque from his arm. The stretching really helps out your shoulder, biceps and all of your accelerator and decelerator muscles.”
Though Dyrda expects to major in business finance at USC, he said his study of throwing mechanics and stretching will likely lead to an emphasis on sports fitness. It’s a good fit for the Mustang junior and an exciting field of study already on the radar with a little over a year of high school left to finish.
“Now that I know where my future is going I can relax and play baseball,” Dyrda said. “It’s a surreal feeling to know what is coming next.”
Dyrda made sure to recognize coach McNeil, his OHS coaching staff (Hondo Arpoika, Nathan Gregory and Joe Peterson) and father Scott Dyrda for the roles they played in his youth career on the dusty diamond.