Four years ago, Lynden softball player Trisha Snydar was headed to her first state tournament.
Her coach, Steve Petersen, knew she was a good second baseman, but when Snydar racked up seven RBI in three games, Petersen realized she was going to be a standout player.
Lynden is now headed to its fourth straight Class 2A State Tournament and Snydar has been there the whole way.
As a four-year starter, Snydar has had her fair share of contributions to the team. She's hitting .440 this season and hit .443 last year.
But it's what Snydar brings as a leader that separates her from the rest.
"She works incredibly hard," Petersen said in a phone interview. "She hasn't missed a practice in four years and she's always the first one there and the last one to leave."
Snydar's lead-by-example mentality has helped create a winning culture at Lynden. A culture in which the expectation on the field is that the Lions have a job to do and they will get that job done even if it means staying after practice sometimes.
Snydar is the essence of that culture and so when she departs from the team after the state tournament, Petersen won't forget what she brought to the table.
From hitting ground balls to her for 45 minutes after practice to watching her snag a game-winning hit in the seventh inning, Snydar is irreplaceable.
"It's bittersweet," Petersen said. "One one hand, you're so proud of what she's accomplished and the person she's become, but you're going to miss her."
Snydar will get one more opportunity at securing the first softball state title for the Lions since 1990 and it's the moments that will be presented at state that she works so hard for.
"I just put in the extra work for moments like being up to bat with the game on the line," Snydar said in a phone interview. "I work to get back to big moments. I want to do my part, so it's me trying to be able to do that."
Lynden will begin its state tournament against Ellensburg on Friday, May 30, in Selah. The expectations are the same as they have always been: "To compete," Petersen said.
Whether that leads to a second consecutive trip to the semifinals will be determined this weekend. With Snydar getting better every day, the Lions are a tough out.
"She's living testimony to passion and hard work," Petersen said. "Even she'll say she's not the greatest athlete, but she loves the game and has worked hard."
As for the future of Lynden softball after Snydar, it will be sort of like "Moneyball," Petersen said.
One person can't replace a player like Snydar, who's leadership and persona are greater than her stellar play. Instead, the Lions will try to fill the hole by using two or three people to bring what Syndar does to the table.
Of course, if she could, she would stay with the team.
"It's been a dream to make it four straight years," Snydar said. "It's been an incredible four years and I'm happy that it's ending in Selah and not anywhere else. I just wish I had more years to play with everyone."
Regardless of what happens at state, Snydar's name will go down in Lynden history.
Reach Joshua Hart by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 360-715-2851