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How Sydney Sherrill Became Florida State's Defensive Anchor

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(Photo by Shane Bevel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

As Sydney Sherrill enters the final season of her college softball career, she has already left a significant mark at Florida State.

From the beginning of her time with the Seminoles, she made an immediate impact on the program and won the ACC's Freshman of the Year award in 2018 after she hit .370 with 29 doubles, which was a single-season record in both program and conference history.

Along with her bat, Sherrill's defense has played a vital role in Florida State's success during her time as a Seminole. She's won the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year award twice in her career (2019, 2021) and helped the Seminoles capture their first national championship in program history in 2018 with her outstanding play in the field.

Sherrill knows the importance of defense and believes in it wholeheartedly as a major key to her team's sustained success.

"I think our team and our coaching staff does a really good job at doing those reps and the fundamentals and the basic stuff, so we never lose that part of our game," she said. "No matter what we're doing on the field hitting-wise, we can always rely on having a good defense."

Her teammates have admired her impact at third base, as junior infielder Devyn Flaherty tells Softball America that Sherrill's teammates see the work and effort she puts in daily at the hot corner.

"We get to see the work that goes behind that and kind of why she wins those awards," Flaherty said. "We know nothing is going to get by her over there. There's no short-gamer that's going to get on because of who we have at third base. It just gives our team a sense of confidence knowing who we have in a leader and a player over there."

Sherrill split time at second and third base early on in her career at FSU. The move to third became permanent after current Athletes Unlimited star Jessie Warren graduated in 2018. The transition was admittedly difficult for her at first, but she found a way to thrive at third after watching Warren's elite performance at the position.

For the Seminoles, pitching and defense were the constants that helped propel them as underdogs to the WCWS championship series last spring. Sherrill tells Softball America that while the 2018 team and 2021 team had a similar road to the championship series, getting there felt completely different. As the team struggled offensively in 2021, they had to discover what their identity was during the postseason.

"We just weren't that offense (last) year, it just wasn't our identity," Flaherty said. "We just happened to find out who we were a little bit more into the season with the situational hitting, the bunting and the stealing bags. I think once we owned our identity and got over that hump, it really helped us offensively to have more confidence and not put the pressure on ourselves to be the home run–hitting team. That's just not who we were."

For Sherrill, the experience of the national championship run in 2018 and being around players like Warren and Meghan King helped her grow as a player and a leader. She uses the lessons she learned back then to help the younger players on her team grow their game now.

"Going into college, I wasn't the best of the best at fielding," Flaherty said. "It took all the reps and all the fundamentals for me to really grow my game, and she was always there. She was always willing to do the extra work with me that I wanted to do and be there and kind of help me. I think it's a huge part of what we do, and she plays a huge role in it."

Flaherty adds that Sherrill and the rest of the upperclassmen's experiences in Oklahoma City helped her and the underclassmen as the postseason started in 2021. For Sherrill, having experienced players in the infield around her helped take the pressure off of her. As a graduate student now, she wants to keep helping younger players develop so the winning tradition can continue at Florida State long after she graduates.

"I think I just want to be that light for the rest of my defense," Sherrill said. "The freshmen coming in, and over the years as freshmen have come in, I've just wanted to do what those seniors and those upperclassmen did for me."

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