From SaberCat to Seminole: Sherrill Relishes the Long & Winding Road HomeJul 10, 2018
The dream has been with Sydney Sherill since she was a little girl.
“I’ve had this picture in my mind of both my dad and me coming back to Oklahoma City and playing at Hall of Fame stadium,” said the Southmoore alum.
Sherrill realized that dream and a whole lot more in June as she and her Florida State teammates rallied from a first-round loss to win the Seminoles’ first Women's College World Series championship.
“I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it’s been,” said Sherrill. “It was such a battle for our team to get here and to be able to get that trophy is just amazing.”
The battle was real. Sixth-ranked Florida State lost the opening game of the tournament to third-ranked UCLA, a perennial softball power. But from that point the Seminoles went undefeated, knocking off top-ranked Oregon before getting revenge against UCLA by beating the Bruins twice to make it to the Finals. It was during that second win over UCLA that Sherrill says she realized the Seminoles were on the verge of making Florida State history.
“We came out and hit something like four home runs and scored a bunch of runs,” said Sherrill, “We ended up winning the game by something like 12-to-5 or 12-to-6, and I remember thinking, ‘We’re really good, and we’re gonna win this whole thing.’”
Turns out Sherrill’s instincts were on the money. The Noles beat the Washington Huskies 1-0 in Game One of the Finals, then followed that up with a runaway 8-3 win in Game Two giving Sherrill a chance to celebrate a national championship on the same field where she and the Southmoore SaberCats won an Oklahoma state title in 2016.
“That last state championship we won in fastpitch was probably one of the funniest things I ever experienced in high school,” said Sherrill, “Getting to do that with Trinity (Edwards) and Lindsey (Stoekel), my best friends, made it really special. I really miss those guys a lot.”
“Those guys” were part of the core group that put Southmoore High School on the softball map. SaberCat fastpitch coach Jeff Small was working on building a program at the new school when Sherrill showed up as a freshman.
“We knew immediately that Sydney was going to be a big help,” said Small. “Her abilities were well beyond what you would expect of an incoming freshman.”
It also helped that Sherrill was joined by two other freshmen who would go on to play D1 softball: Trinity Edwards (Missouri) and Lindsey Stoekel (Oklahoma State).
Small said, “They worked really hard and brought us to a level of playing championship-caliber softball.”
Sherrill came to Southmoore with a unique level of talent that everyone recognized, but Small made it clear that she never rested on her natural abilities.
“I think the thing that people don't really see about her is just how hard she works,” said Small. “Even though she has this unique giftedness she continues to work hard to get better. That's what makes her great.”
When it came time to choose a college, Sherrill had her pick of Division I royalty, including the two-time champion OU Sooners just down the road in Norman. But Sherrill had other plans.
“I love my family, but I just wanted the experience of going somewhere I would have to accept responsibility for myself and be on my own,” said Sherrill.
That place turned out to be Florida State, where Sherrill learned some familiar, but hard lessons as a freshman during her first semester.
“There were a lot of new experiences, and I found myself wanting to do everything all of the time,” said Sherrill, “Nothing bad happened. I didn’t go crazy. But I just wasn’t focused on softball and on all of the other things I needed to be focused on.”
Sherrill said her coaches were great during that fall semester, encouraging her with the promise that she would play an important role even as a freshman. So over the Christmas break, she cleared her mind and recommitted.
“I came back in January, and everything was different,” said Sherrill. “Second semester has been so much fun for me. I can’t even tell you how much fun college softball is, especially with this group of girls.”
The Seminole coaches decided to begin the season with Sherrill starting at second base. It took Sherrill all of two at-bats to feel right at home on the big-time D1 softball stage.
“I grounded out in my first at-bat, “ said Sherrill, “And then I hit a home run in my next time up. I realized, ‘Hey I’m playing D1 softball, and I can do this!’”
“I can do this” might be just a bit of an understatement. As a freshman Sherrill led the Seminoles with 81 hits. 29 of those hits were doubles, tying an NCAA record. It’s an accomplishment that doesn’t surprise her high school coach at all.
“Sydney was always very confident in her abilities,” said Small. “That shows in that she wasn’t just a player on a national championship team. She was a major contributor on that team as a freshman.”
A significant contributor who may not have been surprised at the success the Seminoles found in this year’s Women’s College World Series but was definitely caught off guard by the national impact she and her teammates have had.
“I spent a week at home after the championship, and my dad was driving me back to Tallahassee when we stopped at some gas station in Arkansas,” said Sherrill, “Some random guy came up to me inside, tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Aren’t you Sydney Sherrill, the second baseman for Florida State?’”
Sherill and her Seminole teammates are taking time to enjoy all the attention that comes with winning a national title. But she has no doubt they’ll be ready to chase another trophy in 2019.
“Our goal every year is to win a National Championship, but we are also realistic and understand that we need to take it one game at a time,” said Sherrill. “So now we go into our offseason, and because we know that we have a lot to live up to next year, we're ready to start working hard to make next season special too.”