Sports Person of the Week
Sypher Supplied Plenty of Hits at the Dish
Jeff Sypher led the Valley Regional baseball team with a .490 batting average this spring, while helping the Warriors earn their first State Tournament victory in quite some time. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Sypher )
Jeff Sypher played a key role for the Valley Regional baseball team this past season. In his senior year, Jeff had the best batting average on the squad and really kept the line moving in the Warriors’ lineup. Valley won 12 games and saw some playoff success with Jeff making major contributions both at the plate and as a middle infielder.
The Warriors recorded their first State Tournament win in more than a decade this year. Valley defeated Killingly by a 4-2 score in the first round of the Class M State Tournament—a victory that came down to execution, according to Jeff.
“We were all pretty surprised that we got the win at states. The team we were facing wasn’t as well put together as we were that day,” Jeff says. “I think that we just did our thing, and they didn’t do theirs. That’s how we won.”
Jeff primarily manned second base for Valley Regional. Jeff used his range and his surehanded glove to help keep runners off the base-paths.
“I play second base mostly. I played shortstop a few games when we needed it, but it was mostly second base for me,” says Jeff, who lives in Deep River. “I like making the plays up the middle that I can backhand, then drop to a knee, and then do a pop-up slide to throw out the runner. Those are my favorite plays.”
Jeff made a big impact at the plate during his senior season. The senior led the Warriors’ offense with a .490 batting average and came up with several big hits in clutch situations.
“I’m proud of the fact that I hit pretty well this year. I try to hit everything everywhere, but I like putting it into right field. It allowed me to hit curveballs pretty well,” Jeff says. “I don’t think it was a different approach for me this year or anything. I think I was just a little more confident after getting a couple of hits early in the year and that just got the ball rolling.”
Head Coach Brian Drinkard loved what Jeff brought to the Warriors. Drinkard says that Jeff played with a fierceness that motivated his teammates, while consistently producing in the batter’s box.
“Jeff was a spark in our lineup this year, and he led the team in batting average. He had to miss a couple of weeks of the season, but he came back chomping at the bit, loose, and just swinging,” says Drinkard. “Jeff played with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, which helped him get fired up, and the other players fed off that when he returned.”
As a senior, Jeff tried to set a good example for the underclassmen on Valley’s roster. Jeff made sure that he stayed positive and just went about his business with as little drama as possible.
“I tried to be really patient with everybody. With the younger guys, I would try to be easy on them if they strike out and stuff. You can’t just walk up and say, ‘Stop doing that.’ You have to be somewhat delicate,” Jeff says. “I was just getting my reps and hoping that everyone else followed along.”
This fall, Jeff will be attending Central Connecticut State University, where he plans to major in business. Looking back at his time at Valley Regional, Jeff says the hardest part is saying good-bye to all the great people he’s met through the baseball team.
“I made a lot of friends that I’m going to miss. I think our dugout was a big part of our success,” says Jeff. “I’m going to miss the people that I played with and the coaches, too. I had a great time, and I’m happy that everyone got along as good as they did.”