Columbus softball's Sydney Sprague signs with Missouri

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 18, 2013 

Joe Paull jpaull@ledger-enquirer.com Columbus High shortstop Sydney Sprague hits a few balls during batting practice Wednesday afternoon.

JOE PAULL — Joe Paull

All it took was one tryout for Sydney Sprague to have a chance at fulfilling a lifelong dream.

The former Columbus High softball player and current senior signed a scholarship on Monday in the school’s auditorium to continue playing at the University of Missouri.

The opportunity may never have come without a connection through a travel ball coach, who put her in front of Missouri coaches for them to see what kind of player she was.

She performed well, and the rest is history.

“They start recruiting as early as the eighth grade,” Sprague said on Monday. She said coaches recruit players at premier tournaments in California, something she could never attend.

A successful tryout, of sorts, resulted in an offer from the Tigers, which she gladly accepted shortly thereafter.

“It’s honestly just such a blessing,” she said. “I’m literally in awe. I’m almost speechless. Ever since I was little, it’s what I’ve dreamed of. … My travel ball coach always told me I could play (Division-I). Don’t ever settle for less.”

Sprague’s success came in more than just the one practice session, though. She has performed at a high level for Columbus each of the past two seasons. This season, she batted .410 with six home runs and 23 RBIs as the Lady Blue Devils’ shortstop.

Lacking the size of a traditional power hitter, Sprague can nonetheless hit the ball out of the park. She says the ability comes from a combination of athleticism and bat speed, something Missouri likes in its players.

“They don’t just grow big power hitters, they grow athletic players,” she said. “People that can play any position.”

Which is convenient, because she said she didn’t care where she played as long as she played. The coaches at Missouri have told her they’ll play the best nine players, whether a freshman or not.

“If I can prove myself, I’ll play just as much as anybody else,” she said.

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