HILLSVILLE, Va. — Sydney Nester’s dream month culminated Monday with a verbal commitment to her dream school – N.C. State.
Having led Carroll County’s softball team to the first team state championship in school history on June 13, the Cavalier freshman followed that up one week later by being named the 4-A State Player of the Year by the VHSL. And now, the hard-throwing right-hander has decided to end her recruiting early with a verbal commitment to play for the Wolfpack.
“I am super excited because I get to be with the dream college that I have always wanted to be at,” Nester said. “It’s a great coach and a perfect campus.”
Nester, who only turned 15 this spring, had been receiving heavy interest from several Power 5 Conference schools, including ACC, SEC and Big 10 universities. But after N.C. State officially offered on June 26, it was only a matter of time until she pulled the trigger.
“They offered me, and I had some visits planned and I wanted to see what other colleges had. But, I was talking to my parents and my dad was asking a few questions, and I just thought, this is what I wanted. I had been there a bunch,” Nester said of the Raleigh campus.
“Their coach had spent a lot of time with me and I knew this is what I wanted, so I told him I wanted to commit. I had several offers coming up in the next few weeks, but this is where I have always wanted to go since the first camp I went to there. It just felt right.”
Nester put together an incredible freshman season that most players can only dream about. With the state championship shutout over Woodgrove, she improved to 19-0 for the season. She struck out 222 batters and only walked 24 in 128.2 innings of work in 2015. She only gave up 15 earned runs to finish with a jaw-dropping 0.82 earned run average. For the season, she gave up just 60 hits.
Not only was this the first softball title for the Hillsville-based school, it was the first state title in any sport.
“The Lady Cavs, our goal was to take one game at a time and win. We are state champs now and it is falling into place to where my dream college offered me and I am committed to them now,” Nester said. “And to be the player of the year in the state, it is just crazy, especially being a freshman.”
Nester is currently in Denver, Colorado, with her Lady Lightning 16 & Under Gold Elite team based out of East Bend. She just finished with a weekend tournament in New Jersey. After this week in Denver, she will have two days off before traveling to Chicago, Illinois. From there, the team will have stops in Georgia and California.
“It has helped me get some super good looks from several colleges. If it wasn’t for them, I would be surprised by the level of college, but it transitions me to where it is not that big a deal in college because we are already playing against the tough competition,” Nester said. “I’ve already been in situations with several college coaches watching me, so when I got to Liberty (for the state tournament), I had already been there with the scenery and that sort of thing.”
Two of Nester’s Lady Lightning teammates also have committed to N.C. State, one in the class of 2017 and another in the class of 2018. Nester, ranked the number 30 recruit in the nation in the Class of 2018 by FullCountSoftball.com, gives N.C. State the 11th-ranked recruiting class in the country for the Class of 2018.
The Wolfpack also finished up the 2015 season ranked 19th in the country after making it to a Super Regional. That team included former North Surry star Molly Martin, who missed much of the season with an injury.
For Nester, growing up in Southwest Virginia, there is always pressure to attend the hometown favorite, Virginia Tech. And while the Hokies did show interest in Nester, she said N.C. State has always been where she wanted to go.
“My parents have set me up for, ‘You do what you want to do, you go where you want to go. Don’t let anybody else pressure you into this,’” Nester said. “Virginia Tech was super. They have always had great folks up there dealing with me, but I had a close relationship with (N.C. State Coach Shawn) Rychcik. They were also the first school to offer me (a scholarship).”
With the commitment out of the way, Nester can now put recruiting behind her and focus on improving her game and getting herself ready for the ACC. She said she feels like she needs to continue working on getting more movement on her pitches and getting stronger.
“I need to keep working out and keep myself in shape to get ready for college,” she said.
Nester is the daughter of Dr. Brad Nester and Rhonda Nester. She has two brothers, Landon and Jackson Nester.