Howard Dobson would show up at tournaments where the Texas Glory Adkins select softball team played, and it was seemingly always at the perfect time.
Sydney Springfield, one of Texas Glory Adkins' sluggers, would routinely crank home runs while Dobson was evaluating players. Dobson, LSU’s hitting coach, guesses he saw Springfield play anywhere from 8-12 times, and she homered in practically every one of those games.
It got to the point where Dobson would joke with Texas Glory coach Keith Allen that he wanted to charge Allen for showing up to his games.
“One year in Tulsa at a national tournament, he walks up and she hits one out to left. He was like, ‘There it was!’ I was like, ‘Well, we play again at 4,’’ Allen said. “So he comes back at 4 and — bam — she hit another one. She hit seven or eight home runs that weekend. Every time he walked up, she hit one out.”
And these were clutch home runs against stiff competition, Dobson said.
“She hit them at good times as far as good tournaments,” he said. “She didn’t hit them in the pool play, or she didn’t hit them in just the mom-and-pop tournaments. She actually hit them whenever it mattered, in the national (tournaments), and she hit them whenever they were trying to go to bracket play.”
Springfield, now a freshman with the No. 7 Tigers (5-1), hasn’t homered yet through six games of her collegiate career. LSU has played all six games at Tiger Park, a stadium that’s known as a pitcher’s ballpark because the wind blows in off the levee and deep gaps. The Tigers will play the next four games at home as part of the Purple & Gold Challenge, starting at 6 p.m. Friday against Georgia Southern.
But Springfield’s is not limited to only hitting deep shots. With a smooth stroke and plenty of bat speed, she’s 10-for-17 with five RBIs through six games, sitting in the top 40 nationally in batting average (.588). She’s tied for 39th place in that category with Tigers catcher and three-hole hitter Sahvanna Jaquish, the senior power hitter that Springfield is charged with protecting as the new cleanup hitter.
The task of batting in the heart of the Tigers’ order hasn’t been too great for the rookie thus far, which comes from a “tireless work ethic” she established while working with Allen as a 10 or 11-year-old, the Texas Glory coach said.
Springfield, like fellow freshman Amanda Doyle, has become known by teammates as player who will arrive at Tiger Park early and leave late, watching film or taking extra reps in the batting cage.
“It’s always been a dream to play collegiate softball. My aunt (Bonnie Ferguson Wilson) played at Louisiana Tech from 1998 to 2001. So I had grown up watching her and always been around the game of softball. Just to kind of say that I’m following in her footsteps, and I actually got to talk to her after on Sunday. It was a surreal moment.”
Springfield’s work ethic is no surprise to freshman pitcher Maribeth Gorsuch, a teammate of Springfield’s on Texas Glory — a program that had multiple players sign with Division I teams — since they were 12 years old. Gorsuch’s hometown of Lewisville, Texas, is only a few miles away from Springfield’s native Flower Mound, and the two played on Class 6-6A district rival teams in high school.
Even Gorsuch, a MaxPreps High School All-American in 2015, tried to find ways to avoid being one of Springfield’s home run victims.
“She was one of the people I would always pitch around,” said Gorsuch, who is also one Springfield’s two roommates. “She works hard at doing extra stuff outside of practice, and she also has the same routine every at-bat. She does the same thing. If you really focus on her breathing, she takes a deep breath before she steps into the box. Her whole routine is the same every at-bat. I really think that’s what also makes her a great hitter and fielder.”
Gorsuch occasionally got the best of Springfield in these “intense” matchups, Springfield said, but so did Springfield. The 2016 Class 6-6A Offensive Player of the Year got the best of many opposing pitchers, as she set the Flower Mound High record with 24 home runs in her career. Springfield bested the previous Flower Mound mark held by former Texas All-American Taylor Hoagland, who also played on the USA Softball Women’s National Team.
Springfield, however, was plagued by a torn labrum her senior year, limiting to her to a designated player role. She still registered a .514 batting average with 20 RBIs and six home runs in her senior year, but LSU coach Beth Torina acknowledged the shoulder injury was Springfield’s one question mark as she entered her freshman season.
While rotating with Doyle at first base, she’s certainly answered that question at the plate thus far.
“It’s nice to see a player so completely bought into the system so early and just trusting what they’re doing and what Coach Dobson and (assistant coach Lindsay Leftwich) are doing with her,” Torina said. “She’s just completely bought in, trusting and seeing a lot of results from it.”