Bay Port’s Sydney LaPoint has 637 career high-school strikeouts heading into WIAA D1 postseason play this week (Rich Palzewic photo).
BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – Bay Port softball player Sydney LaPoint has accomplished a lot during her four-year varsity career.
She’s hoping for one last hurrah as the Pirates open up WIAA D1 postseason play this week.
The senior LaPoint notched her 637th career strikeout last week for No. 6 seeded Bay Port, who will host No. 11 Menasha in the regional opener Wednesday, May 23 at 4:30 pm.
“When I came in my freshman year I wasn’t sure what to expect since Bailey (Smaney) was still on the team,” said LaPoint, who has pitched almost 435 career innings and has a 79-24 win-loss record at Bay Port. “I figured eventually I’d possibly get to this point, but I wasn’t sure how quickly it would happen.”
LaPoint noted that she’s a lot more confident as a pitcher now than when she was a freshman.
“I also got smarter – what pitch to throw and where,” LaPoint said. “I started reading the batters and my locations. My dad (Kevin) and I always talk about where to pitch certain batters.”
The pitches are called via the dugout for LaPoint, but there are times she will shake off catcher Emma Hock, and throw something different if the situation calls for it.
When LaPoint, a St. Cloud State recruit, is on the mound, the Pirates have a legitimate shot to win every game if they can generate enough runs and play sound defense.
LaPoint’s career earned-run average is a paltry 1.01. What’s even more remarkable than her strikeout total is that she’s walked only 43 batters in her career and has opposing batters hitting just .136 against her.
“I think the movement on my pitches really helps,” LaPoint said. “Also, mentally, you have to be strong out there. If I happen to give up a home run – it’s going to happen – you have to put it behind you and move on. I feel like I do well under pressure.”
LaPoint was the Fox River Classic Conference co-player of the year after her junior year and was also named honorable-mention all-state. She tossed over 200 innings in each of her sophomore and junior years, but has pitched a little less this season with the finicky spring weather and first-year head coach Dave Luedke giving Alexis Tingley and Nicole Vandervest some innings.
“I take really good care of my arm,” said LaPoint, who has thrown over 5,400 pitches since her freshman year. “I stretch, go to the chiropractor, do cryotherapy and eat well. I’d say my arm feels as good this year as year’s past. I also have to thank my dad for pushing me – I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him. I’ve missed things over the years that normal teens get to experience, but I wouldn’t trade where I’m at now for anything.”
LaPoint said the most-difficult batter to get out in her career was Green Bay Preble’s Kaylen Krueger, who is now in her second year at the University of Minnesota.
LaPoint, who routinely throws in the low 60s, is one of the best pitchers in the state, but she’s also no slouch at the plate as shown by her .370 career batting average. She has 95 total hits – two of which were homeruns – and 59 RBI. Her eye is also excellent as indicated by her striking out just 16 times in her 284 career plate appearances.
“I’m not a strikeout batter,” LaPoint noted. “I’ve only struck out a few times this year and it makes me really mad. I feel being a pitcher gives me an advantage because I know how being at the plate works. I want to find my pitch and hit it. I don’t think too much about what the pitcher is going to throw and where.”
After the season is over LaPoint will join the D2 Huskies in Minnesota and expects to step right in.
“I don’t think I’ll be redshirting my first year,” she added. “There are pitchers ahead of me, but I think coach has a really good rotation. I hope to come in and be a part of that. St. Cloud also lets their pitchers hit, so I’m excited about that, too.”
Before heading off to college next fall, LaPoint knows a lot is expected of her this postseason, but she’s going to give it her all and let the chips fall where they may.
“It’s hard to think about it all ending soon here, but it’s been a great ride over my four years,” she said. “I hope we can put together a full game where I pitch well, we hit as a team and play good defense. If we can do all those things, I think we have a chance in any game.”
Notes: If the Pirates manage to win their regional opener over Menasha, they would most likely travel to Pioneer Park to take on Ashwaubenon Friday, May 25, for the regional crown. Check thepress.media for results of the game … Bay Port and Ashwaubenon split a doubleheader earlier in the season.