Jan. 31, 2014
Leading into the 2014 season, we will be posting Q&A's with our four freshmen on rolltide.com. In the final Freshman Profile of 2014, we're chatting with Sydney Littlejohn, a pitcher from Rusk, Texas.
When did you start playing softball? Did you play any other sports growing up?
"I did everything: cheerleading, gymnastics, twirling. You name it, I did it. What got me into softball was that all my friends in my small town played it. It was the cool sport to play. To get involved with the community in the social aspect was the main reason why I started."
When did softball become your primary sport?
"It was probably between my freshman and sophomore year. That was when I really had to decide if it was what I wanted to do and I figured I might as well see what I'm capable of."
At what point did you realize pitching at a Division-I school was a real possibility?
"By the end of my sophomore year, schools were starting to look at me. I was really improving and more people were starting to notice. Honestly, I never thought anything about it. I just wanted to be a good pitcher for my high school team. Things started happening though and it went from there."
How did you get noticed playing softball in such a small town?
"I started playing with the east Texas teams and learned a lot of great things from them. I realized that if I wanted to get recruited, I had to go into the bigger areas like the Dallas-Forth Worth area to be able to get noticed. Those were the places that did the traveling and took the big steps to get their players noticed."
What other schools were your main choices?
"Besides Alabama, I was looking at Mississippi State, Arkansas and Illinois. Those were my main choices."
What were your first impressions of Alabama softball?
"It was very high class. The coaches expect a lot of discipline out of their players. The team is a lot of fun though and they're a family. That was what I wanted if I was going to go away from home."
When did you decide to commit?
"As soon as I left the unofficial visit, I knew it was where I wanted to be and I was determined to do whatever I could to make sure I had a spot on the team. We played a couple tournaments and Murphy called me and offered me over the phone. I said `yes, sir!' and told my parents and they said, `alright, let's go!' We were all really excited."
Growing up in small-town Texas, was there any hesitation about going somewhere far from home?
"Yes and no. I was scared at first because a small town is all I ever knew. All my friends were there and we are very close-knit. I grew up with friends that I consider family. At the same time, I wanted to get away and be my own person. I wanted to branch out and discover what's out there."
The SEC is arguably the most competitive softball conference in the country. What do you think makes you an SEC-caliber pitcher?
"Positivity through adversity. I always try and stay positive. I like to push myself to see what I'm capable of. I'm not afraid to take risks. I'm loud and obnoxious in the dugout too which probably psyches out the other team."
You have a great opportunity this season to pitch alongside two very experienced pitchers. What has that experience been like so far?
"It's a great experience. There's so much to learn from them. They are the best of the best. To know that I have a year with Jackie [Traina] and two years with Leslie [Jury] to learn from them is a great thing. They have already taught me so much and I'm eager to learn even more."
What was the biggest thing you learned during the fall season?
"One of the main things I realized that this team is different. I know they have my back in any situation. It's a great group of girls and I wouldn't want to play with anyone else. The competition is much better than anything I have faced before. It will definitely be an adjustment."
What are some of your goals for 2014?
"I want to improve for myself and for my team. I want to be able to pull them through in situations when they need me. I want to be ready in any situation they call on me for. I want to maintain a positive outlook. As a team, I want us to go to the College World Series. I want us to be the best of the best because I know we're definitely capable of it."
Who were some of the people that inspired you in softball up to this point?
"My family was always behind me. I have a lot of coaches to thank too, like my hitting coach, Bob Phillips, and my pitching coach, Amanda Scarborough. She taught me a lot about the mental aspect of the game. Ed Naudin, one of my Glory coaches, really showed me what I was capable of. He showed a lot of faith in me and showed me I could get to where I am now. [Glory Gold coaches] Kevin Shelton and Tracy Beard really helped me learn more of the mental aspects and what to do in certain situations. They also really showed me how to lead a team."
What has been your favorite thing so far about playing for Alabama?
"The girls on the team. I have a family of 17 sisters that I could never have anywhere else."
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