There were some amazing athletes and incredible seasons compiled this past high school year starting last fall and finishing late in the spring and early summer.
Champions were crowned, records were set and we saw some fantastic softball players come through when it counted most.
One of those is our 2019 Extra Inning Softball National High School Player of the Year.
Five years ago, we first met Sydney Supple (pronounced "SOUP-lee") at a club event playing for the Beverly Bandits and, even then, we were impressed with her always-present smile and irrepressible energy.
Following her through the years we watched her grow not just as a softball player, but as a person aware of her community and wanting to make a difference.
Last summer, we profiled Syd’s successful efforts to raise money for a premier softball field that would be built in her hometown of Oshkosh, Wisconsin so generations of softball players following her would have a great place to create and live their own dreams.
For the last three years, the brilliant red-haired lefty was the Gatorade State Player of the Year and as a senior--following a shocking upset in the high school playoffs the year before when her Oshkosh North team was seeded #1--it all came together and resulted in a perfect season.
Sydney led her team to an undefeated 31-0 record and the state championship she always dreamed of.
The Northwestern signee won 29 of those games and made appearances in the two she didn’t start.
Her complete pitching stat line was impressive: 29-0 record, one save, 167 innings pitched, 0.75 ERA with just 18 earned runs allowed all year, a .127 opponents batting average against and 298 strikeouts vs. just 11 walks… well that’s impressive enough.
Then you figure in 15 shutouts including three perfect games and a no-hitter and her pitching accomplishments alone would have been enough to get her national honors.
But against top teams from not just Wisconsin, but Florida and Illinois too, she also hit .538 with 13 doubles, 12 home runs, 53 runs scored, 49 RBIs, 26 walks including six intentional walks, a .623 on-base percentage, a 1.140 slugging percentage and an OPS of 1.763, that was the icing on the cake.
The cherry might have been that she only struck out three times in 93 plate appearances.
Overall, she went 89-8 in her prep career with 972 strikeouts from the circle while hitting 29 home runs.
To finish, in the two years we’ve done the Extra Inning Softball National High School Player of Week awards, only two have won it twice in a season: Syd this year and Megan Faraimo last year.
That’s pretty good company to be in.
We finish off with a special treat: we asked our Extra Inning Softball National High School Player of the Year to chronicle her journey and what it’s meant to her to cap her prep career with all the honors, sure, but the thing she really, really wanted—a state championship trophy…
… here, in her own words, is that story as she says goodbye to her high school success and prepares for her next chapter... in the Big Ten!
An open letter from Sydney Supple to her high school softball program at Oshkosh North, Wisconsin…
Dear North Softball:
I have put off writing this off for as long as I could, because I will never be able to say goodbye to a place whose field I will always consider home.
You gave me a place to play the game I love alongside girls who I was raised with. To look forward to the end of every school day where I only had to walk a few feet to lace up my cleats. Hear my name announced, to run on the field and turn to see my family, friends, and all our fans who I’ve grown so close with over the years.
My high school story was truly one crazy ride filled with many great moments and some heartache. I would not change a single thing in any of my four years because it all led to a “Hallmark” ending...
Freshman Year – 2015-16
Freshman year, you taught me what it was like to believe in something before it was there. I walked in with high goals of wanting to win conference, advance to state, and win state for the first time in school history!
When I expressed my hopes before I even stepped on the field, I received some crazy looks. However, that did not diminish my vision I had for our team, and little by little others started to see what we were capable of.
I still remember my first high school conference game at North… what people didn’t know was that it was my first game in Wisconsin in a few years and I was ready to make a statement.
Our first game I hit a home run in my first at bat as a freshman and #3 hitter and my best friend and fellow freshman, Libby Neveau, hit one off the fences right after me. That pretty much was the unsaid statement to everyone watching that there would be plenty more of that for four years to come.
Side note: Libby hitting it off the fence was temporary, over the years they just kept going farther and farther over.
Just like that, game after game, we were beating teams for the first time in years until we found ourselves tied for first place for our conference. Every night was a celebration, until we fell a game short in accomplishing our conference goal...I was crushed but I told myself I still had more goals I could accomplish this season.
We started putting ourselves on the map as we won our first three games in playoffs, and, before I knew it, we were in the Sectional Championship playing Kaukauna, the team who cost us the conference title, with a talented pitcher Hailey Hestikan (currently playing for Wisconsin).
What I will remember most about that freshman year is winning that game that sent North to state for the first time in 38 years! At state, we fell short with the bases loaded in the first round. It was a defining moment for the North program… and for myself.
Sophomore Year – 2016-17
Sophomore year, everyone was returning and we were hungry. It was “the year” as everyone said. We called it our record year as we went on to win conference for the first time in school history with an 18-0 undefeated conference season.
In the playoff run we walked through everyone, easily punching our ticket back to Goodman (Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison). We had seven seniors who I loved playing alongside and I wanted a trophy for them all before they left.
I learned during that game in the first round at state that sometimes life doesn’t always work out as you plan, but that you can never truly let your upperclassmen down if you gave them everything you had.
We did that… it just ended up being someone else’s happy ending.
Junior Year – 2017-2018
My junior year—for the first time since my first game of my freshman year—I felt our team was overlooked.
They knew we would be tough because of pitching, but we were starting five freshman and seven girls in new positions.
Our motto that season was, “Dare you to doubt us.”
As a whole we embraced that challenge and worked hard as a team to put in the extra work in learning and playing hard. I have never been prouder of a group of girls than when we won our second straight undefeated conference championship that season.
It truly showed that despite having a young team we could compete with anyone and win. With that being said it also showed that anyone can win on any given day.
Our first playoff game happened to be some other team’s “day.”
Reflecting on this game still causes a tightness in my chest—it was one of the hardest moments in softball I have ever faced.
We played a team from our conference that we had easily run-ruled twice earlier that season, but it seemed that the ball didn't bounce our way at any point that game.
We were the #1 seed and got upset, shocking the whole state and ourselves.
I stayed on that field for hours after everyone left and then sat in the stands after the last of my tears fell in realizing I lost my first game at home and I only had one more shot at getting a state title for my city.
It wasn’t until much later that I found out how valuable that experience was, that I loved this game through everything.
I loved it so much even through the hard times.
It took a long time for that heartbreak to go away and I don’t mean that it was something that a few nights sleep could wear off—it took a long time, and I had moments months later where that painful reminder continued to hit.
However, walking off that field that day I decided I wasn’t going to get bitter and think “Why me?” I was going to get better and show my real strength in rising from this.
I dedicated even more of my next off-season training and, let me tell you, there was not much more I could do than I was already doing in the years prior.
My routine was wake up before school to workout, go to school, hit during lunch, practice after school. Repeat.
The difference is I grew deeper in my faith, I became more invested in wanting to strengthen my community for girls’ opportunities to play after I graduated and I grew even stronger relationships with my teammates.
All of these things that may not have been directly working on my pitching or hitting, but it all helped it.
The reason is I learned why I played: it wasn’t for the trophy at the end of the season, it was for the people I could bring together to touch an even greater amount of people’s lives.
That is what I reminded myself my senior year.
Senior Year – 2018-19
We had a special team, we knew that from the start as we went down South for four non-conference games.
We faced Florida’s state runner-up champions on their ground, battled, and won. In continuing to challenge ourselves we went to Illinois to face one of the state’s top pitchers in Kentucky commit Sloan Gayan and came out victorious.
All of these tough teams prepared us for our conference and post-season run.
We continued our streak of winning and produced a third undefeated conference championship and, for the seniors, finished with a four-year conference record of 70-2.
Impressive, but we knew we weren’t done making history.
With each game played in our postseason, I walked on the field knowing I’d give everything I had for one more game with my team in my North uniform. That mentality gave me a ticket to my third state tournament.
Earlier that year I drove down to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where our state championships are held, and pinky promised our third baseman, Libby, my best friend that we would end our career on Goodman Field and it was exactly what we were going to do.
Playing at State my senior year was unlike any of the others because I soaked in every moment of it knowing that this is what four-plus years of relentless work prepared me for.
Three games stood in-between the Gold ball (trophy) and my team and me.
The first game we won 10-0 in five innings and there was a lot to celebrate in that opening game; the second game was more of a fight as we won 4-0 and that was our 30th straight win as a team.
But we wanted one more.
I remember that night lying in bed the night before the final game thinking that I dreamt about playing in the state championship game for many years and that tomorrow I would end my high school career fulfilling one of my dreams.
The Championship Game did not disappoint, going nine innings with all the intensity a packed stands could bring with the trophy on the line.
For the majority of the game we were down by one run, but that never caused a doubt in our minds that we were not going to win it all.
I will always remember going into extra innings and looking at all of my teammates saying “We worked too hard for four years to come home with anything but the Gold. I will fight with all of you for as many innings as this takes until we make our history.”
That only took two more innings before we were throwing our gloves in the air, screaming, hugging, and holding the trophy proudly in the air—a moment every athlete dreams of!
History was made in that moment, but it took until after the game, laying in centerfield with my teammates to realize this was all reality.
At that moment, I closed my eyes to thank God for many things: I thanked Him for these girls, this sport, a school I was proud to play for, a city that supported me, and, most of all, everything that led me to that moment.
For every player that reads this, I will finish giving you one tip in playing for your high school: trust the journey and embrace the highs and the lows.
Both extremes will shape you into the wonderful person you will be when you walk off the field for the last time.
Know that and be thankful for that opportunity!
-- Sydney Supple, Oshkosh North, Class of 2019
Other Finalists for 2019 High School National Player of the Year
- Jayda Coleman, Jr. SS (The Colony, Texas)
- Kinzie Hansen, Sr. C (Norco, California)
- Abby Herbst, Sr. P/UT (Center Grove, Indiana)
- Kelley Lynch, Sr. P/UT (East Coweta, Sharpsburg, Georgia)
- Emma Kauf, Sr. C/UT (Lincoln Southwest, Nebraska)
- Nicole May, Sr. P/UT (Foothill, Pleasanton, California)
- Joley Mitchell, Sr. 3B/C (Rose Bud, Arkansas)
- Rylee Trlicek, Sr. P/OF Sr. (Halletsville, Texas)
- Anabelle Widra, So. P/SS (Spain Park, Hoover, Alabama)