Coming off of a third place finish in the Women's College World Series, NAIA power LSU Alexandria has added Breanna Sylvestri to its list of newcomers for the 2019 season.
Breanna Sylvestri has always taken softball seriously, but she never intended to play beyond high school. Entering her senior season, the versatile Sylvestri signed with NAIA powerhouse LSU Alexandria, Wednesday morning in the Sterlington High School library.
Sylvestri's thought pattern began to change last season during the Lady Panthers' state runner-up season.
"My freshman and sophomore year, I was set on not playing," Sylvestri said. "Last year, I got to thinking about how much I was going to miss it. I began to realize softball was a big part of my life, and walking away from it wasn't going to be that easy."
Sylvestri originally tried out for the Generals about six weeks ago.
Starting since her freshman year, Sylvestri was a second-team All-District 2-2A selection as a pitcher in 2015, and earned first-team accolades as a utility player the past two season. She has basically played every position except catcher over the course of her career.
"Breana has a good chance to compete for a starting position at LSUA," Sterlington coach Jennifer Hickman said. "She is a versatile and athletic ballplayer. She is a utility player for us, and can play any position in the infield and any position in the outfield."
Sylvestri's junior season stat line featured a .319 batting average, .a 398 on base percentage, a .489 slugging rate, two home runs, four triples, two doubles, 15 RBI and 14 stolen bases in 15 attempts.
"Offensively, Bre's best quality is her speed," Hickman said. "She's one of my fastest kids on the team. It's hard to get her out. She will be making the switch this season from the right side to the left side, so we can use utilize her speed more. She has made a great transition as most athletic players would."
As a pitcher, Sylvestri worked a staff-high 86.2 innings, compiling an 8-8 record with 2 saves and a 2.66 earned run average. She struck out 48 while walking 35.
"Not only can Breanna play almost all positions, she is a strong pitcher," Hickman said. "Her 8-8 record last season doesn't do her justice because she threw most of the tougher games, including the state championship game."
Sylvestri is joined on the Lady Panthers' pitching staff by senior Tanner Wilson and sophomore Madigan Stevens.
"It's a blessing to have three pitchers that you can rely on for a high school team," Hickman said. "I expect Breanna to step up more in the circle and be a spark plug in the lineup and on the basepaths this year.
"She will be an asset for the Generals."
Sylvestri isn't sure where she will play, but that has never been a problem.
"Nine of us tried out, and they never told me I would be playing a specific position," Sylvestri said. "I was part of the pitching line at the camp. It doesn't matter to me where I play. As long as a I get to play, I'm excited."
Sylvestri also talked to Arkansas Monticello (Hickman's alma mater) during the recruiting process, but jumped at the opportunity to sign with the Generals.
"I liked the coaches a lot," Sylvestri said. "They are fun and energetic. They care about you, and want you to succeed."
LSUA (52-10) is coming off of its best season in program history after placing third in the NAIA Women's College World Series, and setting a single-season school record for wins.
The husband-wife tandem of Adam and Annalyn Burch were named co-head coaches in July, succeeding Jerry Breaux. In two years, Breaux directed the Generals to a 99-22 (.818 winning percentage) mark, before accepting the head coaching position at Drury (Mo.) University.
A 3.8 student, Sylvestri plans to major in education at LSUA and become a kindergarten teacher.