Meghan Smith earns all-state honors 2011.06.29

meghansmithBy DAVID GREEN

That home run in the regional softball finals sealed the deal for Morenci’s Meghan Smith.

Driving the ball over the fence against one of the premier pitchers in the state caught the attention of many coaches.

“Her home run off of Summerfield’s Emily Puterbaugh at regionals got a lot of attention at the all-state selection meeting,” said Morenci coach Kay Johnson. “Puterbaugh was one of the top Div. 4 pitchers in the state for the last two  years.”

Johnson, of course, is well aware of Smith’s prowess at the plate. The recent graduate led the team with 37 RBIs, 13 doubles and four home runs. She was second in triples with three, second in hits with 44, and second in batting average at .376.

“She also led the team in walks,” Johnson noted. “She wasn’t being given good pitches.”

Every team has its offensive leader, but Smith was part of a team from the Tri-County Conference—a league known for softball champions. Each team’s schedule and results must be included when honor teams are chosen to help judge the quality of competition. This year the Tri-County Conference produced two state champions, up one from the previous season.

“Our  strong league with Summerfield and Clinton and our non-league schedule that included Adrian, Ida, Blissfield, Manchester, Allendale, etc., qualify that the stats presented are not against a season of poor competition,” Johnson said.

Coach Johnson was impressed with the improvement in Smith’s swing this season—something she worked hard toward improving.

“Last year, she was a pull hitter,” Johnson said. “This season she was able to go with the pitch and hit it up the middle or to right center. To me, this separates the good hitters from the average ones. Once hitters gain confidence to wait on an outside pitch, they are able to hit to all fields.”

Smith could feel the difference herself.

“I could tell that my hitting had improved,” she said. “It was as if I had become a more confident hitter and I was actually having fun. It felt amazing. It could also have been my realization of the senior season and the fact that I had to be a leader.

Softball has always been her favorite sport, and although she could have excelled at track, it was an easy choice to decide which way to go when she reached high school.

Johnson said Smith took the game seriously once she decided she wanted to be good. She put in a lot of effort toward improving her skills and knowledge.

“Meghan would constantly ask questions at practice on any situation that needed more clarification,” Johnson said.

If you’re going to do something well, Smith says, you have to approach it whole-heartedly.

Her sports career was sidelined for a season due to a torn knee ligament and she was placed at first base as she recovered during her first season back. Centerfield was where she wanted to play, but that wasn’t going to happen with her wounded knee.

“I would have rather played anywhere else but first, but I guess you could say it grew on me,” she said.

With her height and quick reflexes, Smith committed only three errors during her senior season.

Her injuries didn’t end with the first ACL tear. It happened again at the end of the volleyball season in her senior year—this time on the left leg. Fortunately, her recovery was surprisingly fast.

She feels as though she still has some competition owed her due to the time she missed. She plans to play basketball for Calvin College, but now she’s thinking maybe softball should be her choice.

“I may try to do both because they have a young team and my basketball coach actually suggested doing both when I went for a visit.” she said.

“If they are willing to let me, I would love to try. I cannot see my athletic career ending now. I have about two years left, at least, because of my injuries.”

• Smith is the daughter of Tom and Maureen Smith. Her teammate, Tess Ramsey, was given honorable mention on the all-state squad as a second baseman.

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