Introduced by Brownwood Lady Lion head coach Amanda Sheffield as one of, if not the best pitcher in school history, senior Sydney Laws signed a national letter of intent to play softball with NCAA Division I Appalachian State during a Thursday afternoon ceremony at Warren Gym.

A three-time district most valuable player, Laws — behind an assorted array of pitches — has recorded 499 strikeouts and 41 victories over her first three seasons. At the plate, Laws has belted six home runs, delivered 72 RBIs and batted well over .400.

“Syd is definitely the best pitcher this program has seen in a long time, possibly ever,” Sheffield said. “She has astounding numbers that back up what a solid pitcher she is. She has worked for this and today is her pay day. Good things come to those who are dedicated and hard working and she is proof of that. She has meant so much to this program and impacted it so much that it will be hard to see her graduate in May. She has been the corner stone of our success and helped build a winning tradition in girls softball at Brownwood.”

Laws cited the opportunity to move closer to family as one of the main reasons she chose Appalachian State.

“I’m originally from North Carolina and a bunch of family lives up there,” Laws said. “I really love the community, the town is built around the school and it feels really homey. Everyone is really nice and the weather, it actually gets cold.”

Appalachian State, located in Boone, N.C., is a member of the Southern Conference along with Chattanooga, College of Charleston, Elon, Furman, Georgia Southern, Samford, UNC-Greensboro and Western Carolina. The Lady Mountaineers posted a 22-25 overall record last season.

Other schools that showed a strong interest in Laws included Abilene Christian, St. Edwards and West Texas A&M, but “no other place was like App. I really loved it there,” Laws said.

Laws has been playing softball for almost as long as she can remember, and her countless hours of work resulting in an athletic scholarship to a Division I program has made all the time she’s sacrificed well worth it.

“It feels like I’ve been playing literally forever,” Laws said. “I started at 4 or 5 with T-ball, then I think about when I was little and started to pitch, going outside and working out every single day with my dad. I feel like it’s finally paying off and it wasn’t for nothing.”

Ranking near the top of Laws’ memories is the Lady Lions’ 2-1 area round playoff victory over Seminole during her freshman season. Laws pitched the final 4.2 innings in relief without allowing a run to earn her first postseason win, and she also scored the decisive run in the top of the seventh inning.

“My freshman year, the first playoff game against Seminole I was really scared because their pitcher was huge and really good,” Laws said. “We beat them 2-1 and that’s the game that sticks out in my mind. I’ve also made a lot of really good friends through softball and I feel like we’re all close.”

Finding herself in the circle, as well as the spotlight, almost every game of her high school career, Laws has attempted to use that platform to serve as a role model for younger girls in Brownwood who aspire to one day be in her shoes.

“I feel like I’m more of a leader now because of softball,” Laws said. “Since I pitch, everybody is looking at me all the time. I have to set a good example for people, the younger kids especially. I want to lead them to a good position in life.”

The Lady Lions, district champions in each of Laws’ high school seasons, will carry a 26-game league win streak into the 2013 campaign, which begins in February.

“We lost a lot of good players from last year, but I don’t think that will stop us from being good,” Laws said. “Knowing Coach Sheffield, she’ll find a way to win no matter who we have on the field.

“But the legacy I want to leave is it’s not how you play, it’s how you act. You can’t get anywhere in life if you push people down all the time, you have to lift them up, and I feel like everybody needs to know that.”

Added Sheffield, “I’ve been dreading the day she would be a senior because she is so valuable to us, but at the same time I know the Lord has big things in store for her and her softball career. She has a gift and I know she will be a success in Division I softball. She has the talent and the drive to succeed at the next level. She has one more season of making memories as a Lady Lion and then we’ll all be cheering her on at the next level.”