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Hebert achieves dream by signing with Ragin’ Cajuns

January 28, 2019

About 100 family members and friends surrounded Dayton’s Sydnee Hebert as she made it official — the first baseman signed her National Letter of Intent to play for the Lady Ragin’ Cajuns at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Hebert, who has helped the Broncos to three playoff appearances during her tenure, will play Division I softball for UL and compete in the Sun Belt Conference. The Lady Ragin’ Cajuns finished the season with a 41-16 record and second place in the conference with a 21-6 posting. They lost in the first-round regional playoff to LSU in the College World Series.

The Lady Ragin’ Cajuns head into the 2019 season ranked No. 24 in the nation.

“I still can’t believe this is happening to me. I’m still taking it all in,” she said.

Her high school coach heaped praises on her.

“Sydnee has been a starter for us since she was a freshman in high school,” said Coach Daryl Bell.

Her sophomore year she was named the District Offensive MVP and in her junior year she was voted the First Team All-District First Base.

“She will be wearing multiple hats this year because she’ll be playing other positions to help us out, her and a couple of other girls,” her coach said. “Maybe even in the circle pitching,” he smiled.

Bell reminded her friends and family that the Lady Broncos have a string of playoff appearances the last 11 years.

“And for the last three years, Sydnee has been a big part of that,” Bell said. “We appreciate everything Syd’s done for us.”

Her parents started her off young in team activities.

“From praise dancing to barrel racing and all kinds of sports including softball, we gave her options,” said her mother Shelli Hebert.

She excelled early in softball.

She began her softball career on the fields of Dayton Youth Sports Association in t-ball.

Hebert stayed the path until she tried out for the 10U Dayton Phillies select ball team. She played with them for a year-and-a-half and was hooked.

“Her strength came through and she loved the game, so we kept her in select ball,” her mom said.

Hebert said she liked the idea of being outside a lot plus, “I enjoyed the competitive nature of the game and the challenge,” she said.

Her father, James, spent time working with her.

“Sometimes you come home early or stay up late to pitch and catch, whatever it takes.”

It was not always easy on the family. Her dad said the decision was made early to support her dream.

“You want to give them every tool they need to succeed,” he said.

On the finances, he said “It is tough, but that’s the sacrifice you make for your kid.”

“You find a way to do it. Sometimes your priorities take a backseat to your kids,” he said.

“You give up your life for your kid if you love them,” her mom said.

Once the gig was up with the Phillies, she filled the roster on the GT Shockers in Beaumont, the Bombers and ultimately to Scrapyard International where she continues to compete.

Traveling on the select team meant tournaments across the nation and invaluable exposure to talent scouts looking to fill their college rosters.

“We’ve been to Colorado, Kansas, Georgia, and Japan last year,” her mom said. This year the big tournament is in Canada. Fortunately, they have AEGIS (Academic Excellence for Girls In Sports in Conroe) that helps fund the major trips.

Hebert was on ESPN during the Atlanta tournament where she hit a homerun.

“I wasn’t able to make the trip,” her dad said, “but to see your daughter hit a homerun on television was really special.”

Hebert’s interest grew considerably when she visited the campus of UL during her sophomore year for a winter camp.

“The coach saw how she hit and told her she was coming to UL,” her mom smiled.

They looked at UL and haven’t looked back since.

Her select ball coach Khadija Neely who works with Scrapyard International bragged on Syd’s elevated game.

“The first time I saw her play, she threw a girl out at home plate from right field,” Neely said. “She has a brilliant smile, she’s a great teammate, and one of the best I’ve seen play the game in a long time.”

Hebert is a straight A student with a 4.57 GPA and has the academics to play D1 ball.

“She’s a hard worker,” her mom said.

“She goes to church with her friends. Every Wednesday night she’s in someone’s home for Bible study. On Sundays, she’ll come to our church with us and then leave a little early to go to church with her friends too,” said her proud mom.

Hebert plans on majoring in kinesiology and be a physical therapist specializing in sports medicine. Once she passes a barrier exam, she should receive a full ride scholarship, a real blessing to her parents.

Her dad is saving up his vacation days at work so he can go to watch her play.

“To see the young lady she’s become and watch her advance to the next level, I’m just a proud parent.”

Hebert, who was all smiles at the signing, had mixed feelings.

“It’s going to be hard for me to leave my friends and make the new adjustment, but I can’t wait,” she said.

dtaylor@hcnonline.com

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