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The Antelope

Freshman phenom addition sparks Loper softball success

ZAHIRA LOPEZ/ ANTELOPE STAFF Sydney Thomason had 3 RBI’s in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Pittsburg State.

The Loper softball team is on a tear winning 13 of 15 games after starting the year 5-12. Freshman pitcher and shortstop Sydney Thomason has been crucial in UNK’s success.

Last year, Thomason decommitted from San Jose State after the school didn’t renew head coach Peter Turner’s contract. COVID-19 made it hard for the California native to get noticed again and she had to resort to making online videos of her playing to get noticed.

“Ultimately that’s how coach (Katie) Ackerman saw me,” Thomason said. “It was actually coincidental because I was gonna go visit UNO and other schools in this area. The week before I came she emailed me and we just set up a visit.”

UNK was in need of a pitcher this offseason and went searching on YouTube.

“I don’t normally look at YouTube videos, but I was looking at some pitchers,” Ackermann said. “Her profile came up on my screen and I went ‘how is this kid not recruited?’”

Thomason ended up coming to campus and liked what UNK had to offer. As a computer science major, UNK’s school of business and technology really stood out.

“I always wanted to leave California,” Thomason said. “Might as well go explore a bit in college, but I didn’t know it would be Nebraska and the cold, but I’m here.”

Thomason also has family in the area with her sister, Avery, wrestling at Midland, and an uncle who lives in Fremont. Although it may be hard for her family in California to visit, there is a good support system around Thomason.

“I do get homesick sometimes but I’m here doing good things,” Thomason said. “I love the people in Nebraska. They’re so sweet and so kind. My friends just really help me feel at home here.”

Thomason has been playing softball since she was 8 years old. This year, she’s been a quality utility player as a pitcher, shortstop and third baseman.

“I can really play anywhere,” Thomason said. “I just never really know where I’m going to play so it’s always super exciting. I’m just all-around, which I love to do.”

Thomason is second on the team with a .367 batting average and four home runs.

“She kind of started off a little rough but over the last several weeks she’s really grown into her role and she’s finding a lot of consistency at the plate which is something we’ve needed,” Ackermann said. “She’s such a team player and I love that the most about her.” 

The Lopers are fourth in the MIAA standings after being ranked 12th in the preseason. 

“We’re just playing to relax and playing to have fun,” Thomason said. “In the preseason we were pretty tight and we were worried about making mistakes. We want to win now really badly. Now we’re just playing relaxed and playing to win.”

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GRANT TIGHE, Sports Editor
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