By Tom Mauldin - 2/6/2020
Selah High School three-sport athlete Sydney Wells is that player the other team’s coach warns their players about.
Wells, who plays softball, basketball and volleyball at the central Washington school, gets a lot of attention for her athletic prowess. When teammates, coaches and opponents describe Wells they use a variety of superlatives.
One or two simply won’t suffice.
Selah head coach Bill Harris said “She IS focus. Sydney is IN the moment from the first pitch to the last pitch.”
Bob Benson, head of Wells’ summer team organization the Washington Angels, calls her “Plus 3. She has a Plus arm, a Plus bat, and plus speed.”
Fastpitch Northwest director Mike Brooks said Wells is “outstanding and exceptional. I think ‘special’ is the best was to describe Sydney.”
Hailey Johnson, who was a Fastpitch Northwest All-Star teammate of Wells, uses two words to describe Wells, “perfect teammate.” Then adds, “Outstanding catcher. Outstanding Player.”
Opponents say she “hits bombs.” Or “she’s scary at the plate.”
Wells, a junior, has been named all-Central Washington Athletic Conference as a freshman and a sophomore and in spring 2019 was a finalist for the Yakima Valley Softball Player of the Year. More postseason honors are expected this season.
Though she primarily catches and plays shortstop, Wells is quick to tell you she will play anywhere you want her to play.
Brooks clocked her with a 78-mile per hour exit swing. Her overhand throw is 68 mph. Her pop-to-pop time (home to second) is 1.78 seconds.
Are you getting the picture? Wells is quite the softball package. Sounds like a college coaches’ dream player.
Wells has committed to New York’s Fordham University, a northeast D1 softball power located in the Bronx. Though she visited other schools, Wells said “she loved everything about Fordham and it was a “great fit” from the start.
The daughter of a former professional baseball player, Wells will tell you she is motivated by her hate for losing and never “to suck.”
Or as she says, “Suck less.” Or “at least suck less than the other team.”
It’s an easy outlook for Wells: you either win or you lose … there is no second.
Wells succeeds more than not and that is accomplished by being the first on the field and the last off. She’s quick to remind herself — and anyone in earshot — “always take the extra reps. Never settle.”
“Work ethic” is another superlative mentioned when others were asked to describe Wells.
She attributes playing baseball to developing her work ethic. She switched to softball in seventh grade.
“It started when I was younger and used to play baseball. I always wanted to prove to the boys that I belonged,” said Wells, the daughter of Bill and Paula Wells of Selah.
Selah coach Harris is among those who were happy to see Wells focus on softball as Selah reached the state playoffs for the 11th time in 12 years in 2019. Wells predicts a return to state this season.
Last spring, Wells led Selah into the state playoffs by hitting .595. At state, she collected a dozen hits in 19 times at bat.
It was at state where she had her “best softball memory” to date when she homered twice in one inning, leading off with a solo shot and finishing with a grand slam.
Big games aren’t unusual for Wells. She was four-for-five with two doubles, a triple, three runs and eight RBI in one game. And had seven RBI is another.
When coaching the Fastpitch NW All-Stars at the las Vegas City of Lights Tournament last October, Brooks got to see “the package” in action for five games.
"She also has special power as a hitter and this one swing illustrates,” recalled Brooks. “At one at-bat she hit a line drive down the right field line that was still rising as it went out of the park and into the trees. I was coaching third base and couldn’t tell if it was fair or foul so looked at the umpires for a signal. Both of them were standing motionless staring out towards right field, as were most of the other fans and players. Finally the base ump signaled foul ball as he shook his head at what he had just seen. It reminded me of a scene from The Natural.”
Brooks noted that Wells homered several times during the college camp and five games in Vegas.
Though she has committed to Fordham, Wells said she would return to Fastpitch NW for a fourth year,
“I really like Fastpitch NW and will attend again,” said Wells, who plans on majoring in engineering when she gets to college.
Wells loves to be in clutch situations. She said “I feel the need to make the play the team needs.” While her arm and swing are next level, she said what stands out to her is her “competitiveness.”
And she’s quick to add, “just do your best and work on getting better. There will always be someone better.,,but always compete to your best.”
What does Wells need to work on?
“On gosh, I need better pitch selection,” said Wells, who has a 3.9 grade point average. “I’m too aggressive.”
Johnson, a senior pitcher for Lebanon (Oregon) High School said “Wells works hard behind the plate and definitely makes pitcher look better than they are.”
What advice would Wells give a player who wants to be successful on the field?
“My dad has always told me to have fun and enjoy it. Because at the end of the day, that’s what you end up with.
“Be the best teammate you can be,” she added. “Be the first on and last off the field. Always get that extra rep … never settle … always do more. This (softball time) will all fly by and play as much as you can.”
With two years of high school remaining, a couple of summer seasons and Fordham University, Wells is taking her own advice much the way she plays the game — creating superlatives.