Versatility is a premium for any athlete.
Newton High senior Sydney Jenkins has versatility in spades, especially on the softball diamond. The multi-sport athlete thrives in the swimming pool, on the basketball court, on the track and on the diamond, but it was no surprise Jenkins chose softball as the sport in which she wanted to further her athletic career.
On Wednesday, Jenkins signed a national letter of intent to play NCAA Division I softball for the Creighton Blue Jays in Omaha, Neb. Creighton enters its third season as a member of the Big East Conference under longtime head coach Brent Vigness.
Vigness is an Iowa native, who graduated from Central College in Pella. Jenkins’ parents Wendy and Pete Jenkins of Newton are Central College graduates. Wendy Jenkins was a multi-sport athlete at NHS before playing two sports — one of which was softball — at Central.
“When I went to one of the softball camps at Creighton, I really liked the coaching style of their staff. It was much like what I had grown up with in softball,” Jenkins said. “I went for a visit and felt at home in their program and on their campus. You have the big-town feel with Omaha, but the small-town feel on the Creighton campus.”
Jenkins began her career for Newton Cardinal softball behind the plate. She earned Little Hawkeye Conference, all-district and all-state honors as a catcher as a freshman and sophomore. Jenkins switched to shortstop for the 2014 season, and still earned all-conference, all-district and all-state honors as a player.
“They recruited me as an utility player. When they had me at the camps, they had me focus on infield and outfield,” Jenkins said. “I think my best position is in the outfield. I’ve got good range and can track the ball pretty well.”
Jenkins has speed. In her four years — with one more season remaining — for Newton High, Jenkins is 60-of-68 in stolen base attempts. She has an on-base average of .524.
“I can hit with power, and I have speed. I believe with that combination I can help the Creighton team in whatever position they want me to play,” she said.
Jenkins has led the Cardinals in hitting for three consecutive seasons. She has an overall batting average for high school softball of .437 and a slugging average of .650. She has 113 singles, 29 doubles, 14 triples and seven home runs in four years. Jenkins has scored 111 runs and driven in 82 runs.
Jenkins’ .500 batting average was 10th best in Class 4A in 2015. She owned a .830 slugging percentage, which was seventh best in 4A, and a fifth-best .597 on-base percentage in 4A.
“Growing up, I never really knew what sport I wanted to do. It was kind of hard to make up my mind which sport I’d pursue past high school. Once I started playing club softball, I realized softball was the one I wanted to do,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins has played on an 18-and-under club softball team the past two years with similar offensive numbers.
Jenkins said she visited six or seven other schools including several other Division I programs at South Dakota State, Bradley, Iowa State and Division II’s Truman State.
Jenkins has been a standout for the Newton/Colfax-Mingo/Pella high school swim team. She is a four-time state swim meet qualifier, holds the NCMP record in the 100 backstroke and is on two NCMP record-holding relays — 200 medley and 400 freestyle. She was a team captain this fall.
In basketball, Jenkins has garnered Little Hawkeye Conference honors the past two season. She is a three-time state track meet qualifier. Jenkins is the LHC two-time indoor champion in the 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash and is on the NHS school-record 1,600-meter relay.
Jenkins said she plans to become an optometrist and will major in the science field at Creighton. She is a NHS National Honor Society member and has earned academic all-state honors the past three years.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org