MIAMI — Last fall, Sydnee Cypress was a softball player looking for a team, and ASA College Miami was a new team looking for players.
The two sides connected just in time for Cypress to enroll and then help ASA christen its inaugural season.
It’s turned out to be a perfect match as Cypress emerged as one of ASA’s top players, batting near the top of the order and starting at shortstop.
“She’s been one of our best hitters,” said ASA coach Gina Capitini. “We had her at No. 1 [in the batting order], but we dropped her down to No. 2 and she just opened up hitting-wise. She felt more comfortable there. She’s got a lot of speed. She can drop down a bunt. She’s kind of like a three-tool player; she can slap, she can hit. She’s definitely been an impact player this season starting at shortstop. She’s making some good plays and she’s definitely one of our most improved players.”
Not surprisingly, wins were elusive for a program in its infancy. ASA, whose Miami campus is in Hialeah, finished with a 3-19 record.
Cypress, a former Moore Haven High School standout from the Big Cypress Reservation, carved out a memorable freshman season along the way.
She cemented her name in ASA history by hitting the program’s first home run. The solo shot came March 15 in a 5-2 win against Parkland College, of Illinois, in a game played in Titusville.
Cypress finished the season with the team’s second best batting average (.394) thanks to 26 hits in 66 at-bats. She tied for the team lead in doubles with five. She belted a team-high three home runs, the last of which was an opposite field blast over the right field fence on a windy afternoon April 3 at Miami-Dade College in Kendall.
“Luckily I just got hold of one and hit it out,” Cypress said after her home run accounted for the team’s only run in a 2-1 loss against Miami-Dade, a well-established and respected program in the junior college ranks. ASA played a crisp game – its coach said it was one of its better games of the season – which bodes wells for next season when the team will join the same conference as Miami-Dade, Broward College and others.
Cypress admitted she was a bit rusty at the start of the season, but through determination she eventually rediscovered her groove at the plate.
“When I first came back, I wasn’t hitting that well because I had taken two years off, but I’ve worked a lot to get to where I am now,” she said.
Cypress finished her freshman season on a high note when she went 4-for-4 with a double and triple and scored three runs in an 8-7 loss against Eastern Florida State College on the final day of the season.
Cypress said she plans to play for ASA next season and then hopefully land a spot with a four-year college program, a path often followed by junior college athletes.
“This isn’t their final stop. They come in here for two years and we get them on to another school,” Capitini said.
Cypress plans to study psychology and would like to work for the Tribe after finishing college. Her addition to the team has brought benefits beyond the field.
“I love the fact she is Native American and she brings that culture to the team,” Capitini said. “She always gives us information about it, which a lot of the girls never knew before. It’s nice to have that because I like diversity on my team. I like all different cultures to come together as one.”
Before she joined ASA, Cypress hadn’t played softball since she graduated from Moore Haven in 2017 after helping the Terriers win district and regional championships. Her desire to return to the sport never waned.
“Two of my friends from Immokalee play on the team,” Cypress said. “Coach was looking for players and they asked me if I wanted to come play and I said yes. It was two days before the deadline and I got enrolled in two days.
“I’m so glad I’m playing again,” she said.
So is ASA.
“A late addition,” Capitini said, “but definitely a great addition for sure.”