Visitation slugger wins second Gatorade softball award

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Sydney Love-Baker impressed judges for her slugging performance at the plate. (Brian Kapur/The Current/April 2017)

Ask any local softball coach or pitcher what the scariest sight is on the diamond and the answer is usually Visitation’s Sydney Love-Baker.

“She can change the game with one swing,” said Sidwell coach Bethany Sindy. “She is quite the slugger behind the plate — and with one missed spot, it’s gone. We have not faced anyone that has sticks like her.”

Love-Baker, who graduated from Visitation this spring, won a bevy of accolades during her time at the Georgetown school, including The Current’s softball player of the year honor. But she recently tacked on one final distinction to close out her high school career — a second straight D.C. Gatorade softball player of the year award.

“It was awesome. I was just as shocked as I was the first time I won,” Love-Baker said.

Love-Baker was a terror at the plate this year, with a .550 batting average and 13 home runs. In addition, she contributed 41 RBIs and 33 runs, with an on-base plus slugging number of 2.132. The senior led the Cubs to the Independent School League championship game and the D.C. State Athletic Association semifinals this spring.

Sydney Love-Baker won two D.C. Gatorade softball player of the year awards for Visitation. (Brian Kapur/The Current/May 2017)

“The team this year was awesome,” Love-Baker said. “Being a senior, there’s a bigger leadership role and the team felt like a family this year. I know we didn’t win D.C. or the ISL, but we played hard, we had great chemistry, and there’s only so much you can do sometimes.”

The Gatorade award also takes into account academics and volunteer work — and Love-Baker, a Palisades resident, thrived in both of those arenas as well. She posted a B average in the classroom and volunteered with Our Lady of Victory’s vacation Bible school and also on trips to Camden, N.J., with a youth service group.

“It’s a humbling experience to see a different perspective of how the world works and to help people who really need it,” she said.

Next, Love-Baker will be moving on to play at the Division I level in college for Tennessee Tech.

“I’m extremely excited,” Love-Baker said. “There is some nerves because I’ll be playing in a bigger pool of incredible athletes and competing at the next level. It’s out of the comfort zone, but I’m excited and I’m ready.”

It’s also going to be a major change in distance from her family, who were within walking distance from her games at Visitation.

“That’s going to be the hardest thing,” she said. “I am really grateful my parents got to see me play for four years at Visi. Ten hours away is far, but they said they would get an RV and drive down.”