OSHKOSH (WLUK) -- Imagine being in elementary school and having basically every college in the country wanting you to be on its team.
That's the world pitcher Sydney Supple was living in two years ago as an eighth grader. She was wanted by the premier college softball teams and in the end she picked Northwestern, where she plans to study broadcast communications when she's not striking out batters.
Now a sophomore, the southpaw is coming off a season where she led Oshkosh North to the Division 1 state tournament while being named an all-American utility player. This year, Supple has been named to the 20-player preseason American Family Insurance All-USA softball team.
She oozes talent and can dominate when pitching and as a hitter. Many kids in her situation would walk with a swagger, but not Supple.
What makes her special is she's as down to earth a high school athlete you can ever meet. Based on her All-American status, she's the best softball player in the state as no other player from Wisconsin was named to the preseason All-American team.
Last year, Supple was 18-2 with a 0.79 earned run average, while racking up 176 strikeouts in almost 124 innings pitched. At the plate, Supple batted .595 with six home runs.
She doesn't take anything for granted and wants to live up to the accolades tossed her way. That and more was learned when I had the opportunity recently to sit down with Supple and talk.
"Without a doubt there's a pressure, but to me pressure's always a privilege," Supple said when asked if there's pressure to live up her All-American selection. "I love the pressure and I want to be the person in the situation where it counts and it's all on the line for."
Supple is mature beyond her years and that is real obvious when you talk with her. She's well spoken and despite her successes she's quick to point out she hasn't done it alone.
Her family plays a big role in what she does and remembers what her dad told her during elementary school. He gave her the confidence to go for it and offers started trickling in.
"My dad was the one who told me, 'If you love it you can make this dream a reality,' and every night he would always tell me that and every night I believed it and I just worked towards it," Supple said.
And she has worked. While visiting with Supple, I ran into a coach at North who is not related to the softball team and he told me about her work ethic in the offseason. He called it impressive and it's big reason she is where she is.
"I always tell myself through the highs and lows of this game I always want to love it and I'm blessed to have the opportunity to play it every day," she said. "And really my team drives me. I want to be the best player I can be for my team, whether it be on the field or off the field, I'm doing everything for them."
Her opponents are the unfortunate ones who have to "suffer" through her greatness. Last week, Supple threw a 5-inning no-hitter against Kimberly and struck out 15 in a 7-0 win against Hortonville.
Supple's approach in the circle is to win and win all the time.
"I always want to blow it by you, spin it by you every time, if I can," she said. "Most importantly I never want to give a free base. If I can and am in a situation I want to have the defense work behind me. But without a doubt, whoever steps across that line I'm going to take you down and that's my mentality always."
That's what all the colleges throughout the country loved about Supple, beyond her talent, the attitude. In the end, Northwestern lucked out when she committed.
"I committed my eighth grade year to Northwestern and I absolutely fell in love with the school," she said. "I visited 15 times before I actually committed so I did my research. I was lucky enough to have offers from all them. From every Big Ten school, pretty much all the Pac-12. Oregon would probably come down to my number two."
College, though, is a long ways off for Supple. After helping return North to the state tournament for the first time sine 1978 last season, she wants more this season.
"I want (the season) to end walking off the field knowing that I could not have done anything more in that game," she said. "And I want it to end with a state title. Without a doubt I want to know that I gave everything I had for the seniors, focus on winning every single pitch and every single at-bat. And I would love to end with a state championship."
With tbe ball in Supple's hand, North has that chance.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay