Sydney Stefani began her career on the diamond with the boys, playing Little League baseball in Ione.
She started playing softball in the sixth grade, and her game has blossomed from there.
The Hermiston senior shortstop signed a letter of intent Wednesday to play Division I softball at Idaho State University.
“College softball is something I have wanted to do,” Stefani said. “Where I was originally going to go (Montana) didn’t work out, but coach (Kate) Greenough has a lot of connections and got me in with Idaho State.”
Greenough played at Utah State for Cindi Letts, who now is the coach at ISU.
“Sydney is a stud,” Greenough said. “She works so hard, and it’s nice to see that hard work pay off.”
Stefani, who moved to Hermiston in the eighth grade, is coming off a spectacular junior year, where she was named co-MVP of the Columbia River Conference with Hood River Valley junior outfielder Haylee Baker.
The Bulldogs finished 17-10 and reached the 5A state quarterfinals, where they lost 11-8 to Lebanon.
Stefani also was a Class 5A first-team all-state selection as an infielder.
“As the season progressed, it was within my reach,” Stefani said of the CRC honor. “I was shocked. They couldn’t discredit one over the other.”
Stefani hit .571 last season as the Bulldogs’ leadoff hitter. She also had nine RBIs, 13 runs scored, five stolen bases, and let’s not forget the six home runs.
“She’d run through a wall for you,” Greenough said. “Not only is she a good athlete, but she’s a team leader. She is a shining light, always ready to do anything for her teammates. She is always up for a challenge.”
That will come this spring when the Bulldogs enter the Mid-Columbia Conference, where the likes of Kamiakin and Richland have dominated the softball scene for years.
“It will be great,” Greenough said. “She will walk into this conference and be one of the best. But that would be the same for any conference.”
Stefani said she will miss the CRC.
“The programs are so tough,” she said. “Each game we had to show up and play our best game. The bus rides were so much fun. I’m going to miss going to the The Dalles and Hood River. This could have been our year.”
Stefani will be familiar with some of the players in the MCC after playing with the Washington Angels club team the past eight years. She will finish her last season with the team this summer.
“I’m really privileged to have awesome parents (Dennis and Misti) who made sure I had what I needed for club, and they got me to where I needed to go,” she said.
Stefani didn’t start playing softball until the sixth grade, and still has fond memories of playing baseball.
“My last year, I played on the John Day All-Stars,” Stefani said. “My team played Hermiston, which had Andrew James, Jordan Ramirez and Wyatt Noland. I struck out Jordan in that game. He still denies it.”