LAKEWOOD RANCH - Sarah Boyd has made sacrifices. To be good in anything in life, it's a decision everyone must make. Just how much one is willing to give up is often in direct proportion to the level of achievement on the other end of the equation.
For Boyd, a senior at Lakewood Ranch High, much of her young life has been dedicated to softball. She spends her weekends on the road at tournaments and her nights on a diamond in Sarasota.
The Mustangs' softball season only accounts for a quarter of that time, but for the true player, the game is a year-round endeavor. And as long as Boyd can recall, she's been a softball player.
"I don't have the normal teenage life," said Boyd, who said her longest break throughout the year is the two weeks before school starting. "I've never been to a birthday party or anything like that because they are always on the weekends, and I'm never home on the weekends. Boyfriends are really difficult because of my summer schedule, and it's practice every single day."
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Don't feel bad for Boyd, though. This is the life she chose, and she wouldn't want it any other way. It's made her a four-year varsity starter on one of the best teams in the area, and it's given her a look at a future beyond high school.
"I have had more opportunities given to me as a teenager than anyone else I know," said Boyd, whose travel softball team, the Sarasota Storm, makes yearly trips to places such as Las Vegas and Colorado. "I don't know anyone that has done all the things that we've done. This summer we have the opportunity to go to Australia and play for a USA team. Not many people have an opportunity like that." Boyd has made her own opportunities with her talent. She played second base her first two years with the Mustangs before moving over to shortstop, her more natural position last season. She thinks she's spent more of her time working on the defensive side of her game in the past year.
"I feel more confident when I'm in the field because I feel like I can control that part of the game," Boyd said. "Hitting is always rocky, and you never know when you are going to have a good game and when you're going to have a bad game."
To listen to Boyd, one might expect she's a weak hitting middle infielder. That's not the case.
As a leadoff hitter for the Mustangs last season, Boyd led the team in hits (47) and runs (45). She also had 19 RBIs and registered a .461 batting average in helping Lakewood Ranch to its first regional finals berth.
Last month, Boyd signed to play softball next season at Manatee Community College, and fully intends to play at a Division I school following her days with the Lancers.
It's that assuredness that makes Boyd the ideal player to bat leadoff. She gets many of the Mustangs rallies going by knowing when to be aggressive and when to let the game come to her, according to her coach Mick Koczersut.
The Mustangs' third year coach said he relies on Boyd and fellow senior Ashley Hanewich because they have been on the varsity with him the longest and know what he expects of his players.
"She has an attitude of confidence about her, and she knows the game," Koczersut said. "She does the things needed for us to win."
And the Mustangs have won plenty since she arrived. Last year the Mustangs went 20-11, and in 2005, the team when 23-0 before losing in the first game of the district playoffs.
Boyd said that loss is still the topic of conversation in the dugout. She doesn't want her senior season to end that way. In fact, she's just greedy enough to want to make a little history.
"(A state championship) is what I want out of this year," Boyd said. "That's the only thing any player every wants. Everyone wants to walk out of high school with a state title."