When Villa Park High softball coach Terry Williams watches Arizona-bound Sydney Somerndike pitch, it’s like taking a leisurely stroll at a park.
“Honestly, it’s kind of boring at times,” he said, “because Sydney strikes everyone out. She’s unbelievable.”
Well, not everyone goes down by strikeouts. Last season’s Gatorade state player of the year struck out 336 batters in leading Villa Park to the Southern Section Division 2 championship game. She was 24-3, had two perfect games, four no-hitters and 12 shutouts. She also hit .317 with five home runs.
This season, she should be even more dominant while also adding a new role — mentoring freshman pitcher Auddrey Lira, her heir apparent.
“I’m excited to work with her and see how she does,” Somerndike said.
There aren’t many better role models than Somerndike, who has been a standout at Villa Park since her freshman year. Her rise ball is so good that people drop by to see just that pitch.
“She has insane movement,” Williams said. “It looks like a strike, then it’s up.”
Somerndike said she loves the pitch because it can be so unpredictable. “You can make it look like every other pitch going down the middle,” she said. “They swing and miss or eventually get it. It’s so fun to throw because it is so deceiving.”
Villa Park ranks among the best teams in the Southland because of Somerndike and several key additions. Seniors Ashley Adams, a Cal State Fullerton commit, and Tiana Poole transferred from Orange Lutheran and will provide hitting help. And there’s Lira, who will try to relieve the burden of throwing every pitch of every game from Somerndike to help her prepare for the playoffs.
“We’re going to be as talented as any team out there,” Somerndike said. “The thing for us is not getting too comfortable. We have some great players. It’s keeping our head in the games games and one game at a time.”
Among the main challengers to Villa Park will be the usual powers — Norco, Los Alamitos, Chino Hills, Eastvale Roosevelt. And beware of Huntington Beach with rising sophomore pitcher Zoe Prystajko.
Somerndike looks forward to this spring’s challenge and also preparing herself for the college game.
“For me, the work is just starting,” she said. “Going into a program like Arizona, there’s a lot of things that come with that, expectations and the best competition in college softball. I’m here to make a statement senior season going out with a bang. Last year, we had a great run. Going into this season, I know the competition and I’m excited to play them again and see how it goes.”
Once again, Southern California isn’t lacking in talent.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame junior Ella Parker hit 15 home runs last season and has committed to Oklahoma. Her uncle is Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Infielder Mya Perez of Norco is coming off a sophomore season in which she batted .543 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs.
Infielder Samantha Bland of Chino Hills hit seven home runs as a sophomore.