Summer of softball rolls on for Northshore’s Sydney Bourg

In her first practice as a 5-year-old on the T-ball field, Sydney Bourg was struck by a ball and broke her nose. For the next week, she contemplated pitching her bat and glove into the trash before her dad talked her into giving it another try.

Twelve years later, there are quite a few people who are elated she gave in to her father’s request.

As Bourg enters her senior year at Northshore High School, you might think she’d be able to relax since she already has committed to play middle infield for the LSU softball team.

But the daughter of a football coach doesn’t waste time relaxing. Instead, as it has been for as long as she can remember, she’ll spend the next few weeks before the start of school playing ball.

It’s really all the Bourgs know. Her dad, Mike, is getting the Panthers ready for another season in District 6-5A, and mom Donna, an elementary school teacher, is spending her summer not only coordinating Sydney’s schedule but taking care of her other two children, Blaine and Gracie, who also play ball.

The family “vacation” will be three weeks in Clearwater, Fla., when Sydney plays with the Louisiana Patriots in the Amateur Softball Association’s 18-under championship tournament.

Until then, she’ll take hitting practice every day, but it will be tough to improve on her performance of late. Last month, she hit a game-winning grand slam in extra innings in a victory that qualified the Patriots for the national tournament. The next weekend, she hit another game-winning homer in the final inning to break a scoreless tie to win another tournament.

“I’ve always loved pressure. I live for moments like that,” Sydney said.

The moment came while Mike was giving play-by-play to Donna, although mom wasn’t exactly sure how the game ended.

“I knew it was something good, but I couldn’t hear anything but screaming from the crowd,” she said.

Bourg didn’t decide to focus solely on softball until last year. As a sophomore, while playing volleyball for the Panthers in September 2011, she tore her ACL and couldn’t play any sports for a year. Last August, she joined the Patriots.

“Ironically, the injury ended up being a good thing,” Patriots coach Darrell Landry said. “She chose to play for us, thank God, and then gets noticed by college coaches. … She is the player any coach dreams of having. It’s win at any cost for her. … Sometimes, I don’t think she’s human.”

In the spring, Bourg was one of the area’s top shortstops, leading coach Marion Eades’ Panthers to the Class 5A playoffs with 14 triples, 12 doubles, three homers and a .649 batting average.

Then it was back to travel ball, which has become a way of life for those trying to make it to the next level.

Twelve of her teammates with the Patriots also have committed to play in college. The tournament in Florida will showcase 64 of the best teams in the country, many of whom have multiple players headed to Division I schools.

No matter where she travels, her heart always will be at home. Bourg has effusive praise for Eades and Landry, but it’s easy to see she still a daddy’s girl. She said she still “gets chills” when she hears Mike’s pregame speeches, and her favorite quote is one from her father that hangs just above the door that leads to the football field.

It reads: “Every second of every minute of every play, from the soul.”

Being tight-knit with her family is the main reason Bourg chose LSU. She had offers from other schools farther away, but she wanted to be close enough to come home.

“For about a week, I was going to UNLV,” she said. “I honestly think if I would have gone to UNLV, they would have come with me. It’s still going to be tough, but they’ll get plenty of phone calls.”

As for her senior year, Bourg will be mostly business. Instead of going to parties like many of her fellow 17-year-olds, she’d rather hang out at home or go to a movie with a friend.

And those friends are all softball players.

“I want my senior year to last as long as possible,” she said. “I try to make free time, but I spend a lot of my free time hitting. And I like to spend a lot of free time with my family, too.”