LANSING | A year ago, Sydney Harrison would have been stationed at first base, watching somebody else have all the fun.
But Saturday, the T.F. South sophomore was at third, snapping up everything that came her way, sometimes spectacularly, notching a putout and seven assists in an 8-3 win over Lincoln-Way North.
She stabbed a liner headed for left field. She covered a bunt flawlessly. She fired a laser to beat the runner after fielding a slow roller up the line. And, perhaps most spectacularly, she backhanded a one-hop smash about chest high and threw a rope to retire a Phoenix runner leading off the sixth inning, her fourth straight assist.
"I didn't like that one," Harrison said. "The throw was bad. That kinda ruined it for me."
Tough standards, and appropriate, considering Harrison entered this week errorless in South's first nine games. But then, Harrison comes by it naturally. Her dad, Bill, played third at St. Francis de Sales and in junior college. Her older sister, Amanda, was a four-year starter for the Rebels who made a combined 10 errors over her junior and senior seasons at third. Even Sydney's stepsister, Emily Montalvo, plays the hot corner, on Marian Catholic's varsity, as a freshman.
"I like aggressive positions, and at third base, the ball gets hit there more," Sydney said. "First base is kind of laid back. … I just fit better at third."
There are a lot of better fits around the Rebels' diamond this season. When the Rebels host T.F. North today after a dedication ceremony for their new playing surface, they'll throw out a lineup with four returning varsity starters in different position than they played last season.
Harrison, shortstop Tiambris Tate, second baseman Ashtyn Kapovich and center fielder Brianna Heintz all began last season on the varsity. It's just that, then, Tate was in center, Kapovich at short, Heintz at second and Harrison at first.
Harrison played first as a freshman because, coach Jamie Arundel said, that was the only defensive spot she had open for the "great hitter." The move to third, while a migration to Harrison's travel ball spot, also opens a position for the sophomore pitching platoon of Pieper and Sarah Kessler because, Arundel said, "If they're both going to play up, they shouldn't be sitting on the bench when they're not pitching."
As for the counter-clockwise rotation of the other three …
"It came to my attention at the end of last season that Tiambris had played shortstop," Arundel said. "Her range and mobility are superb. She really settles down the rest of the infield."
"It wasn't hard adjusting," Tate added. "Ashtyn was cool with it, and Sydney, I love Sydney. I trust her 100 percent at third base."
Heintz, meanwhile, played some center last season after Tate went down with a hyperextended left knee.
"Those last few games last year, after she moved to center, she kept the girls involved – right and left field," Arundel said. "She very quickly became the captain of the outfield, so I had it in the back of my mind to build the outfield around her."
Which left second base for Kapovich, who'd played the position as a freshman, before she learned how to pitch as a sophomore to fill a need, then moved to short for an all-conference junior year.
"Her skill is she's just an athlete," Arundel said. "She's the first one to say, 'Wherever you need me.'"
No matter that it meant giving up the infield's glamor spot.
"I respect it," Kapovich said of the switch to second base. "Tiambris has a better throw. She doesn't bobble the ball as much.
"And me at second, I feel like it's my spot."