Smith moves off the mound

Senior+Kayla+Smith+is+nearing+the+end+of+her+collegiate+softball+career.+She+spent+her+first+three+seasons+as+a%0Apitcher+and+will+spend+her+final+season+in+the+oufield.
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Smith moves off the mound

Senior Kayla Smith is nearing the end of her collegiate softball career. She spent her first three seasons as a
pitcher and will spend her final season in the oufield.

Senior Kayla Smith is nearing the end of her collegiate softball career. She spent her first three seasons as a pitcher and will spend her final season in the oufield.

Senior Kayla Smith is nearing the end of her collegiate softball career. She spent her first three seasons as a pitcher and will spend her final season in the oufield.

Senior Kayla Smith is nearing the end of her collegiate softball career. She spent her first three seasons as a pitcher and will spend her final season in the oufield.

Austin Lane, Staff Reporter

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After her first three seasons as a pitcher, Kayla Smith is in the process of finishing her collegiate career as an outfielder.

Smith made 69 appearances as a pitcher for CWU from 2016 to 2018 with a record of 26 wins,13 losses and a 3.82 earned run average. Before that, Smith was a South Puget Sound League Pitcher of the Year during her sophomore, junior and senior seasons at White River High School. She also led White River to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association 2A State Championship game in 2015. White River lost the game 3-2 to W. F. West High School.

“We felt that with her athleticism, her speed, her ability to hit the ball, the way she’s throwing… she could probably benefit our team more being an everyday player,” head coach Mike Larabee said.

Smith has started in 36 out of the team’s 38 games so far this season. Larabee also talked about Smith’s abilities outside of the usual stats, such as batting average or number of hits.

“After the end of the fall we keep track of quality at-bats and she led our team in quality at-bats,” Larabee said. “She just has a knack of putting the bat on the ball. Even her first three years when she didn’t hit much we would let the pitchers jump in the cage and she would always barrel balls up.”

Despite not taking an at-bat between her senior year of high school and the beginning of this season, Smith is fifth on the team in batting average, third in hits and second in doubles. Smith doesn’t think too much about her success at the plate, as long as she has helped the team.

“I go up thinking this is the shot I have. I just gotta do the best with what I’m given and just not really try to think too much when I’m up there, just try to do what I can to help the team,” Smith said.

Another player on the team that also changed positions, Paige Liikala, praised Smith for her ability to play the outfield naturally despite being a pitcher for three seasons.

“She has speed. She has the arm strength. It’s like she’s played there her whole entire life,” Liikala said. “It’s so natural for her to catch a ball and throw it on a line to each base.”

Smith hasn’t played outfield since she was in middle school. In spite of the time difference, Smith has had two errors and eight assists this season. Getting an assist in the scorebook doesn’t change with what your position is. The throwing distance between two players combining for an out is much larger in the outfield compared to an infielder or pitcher. Smith leads all outfielders on the team in the category.

Smith is a senior this year and said that she will miss everything here in Ellensburg. She said she will miss the people, the town, fellow athletes and the wind hitting her house and making it sound like it will blow over.

Smith is one of four seniors on the team. The seniors this season are Smith, catcher Kayla Ellis, second baseman Bethany Balucan and outfielder Rachael Johnson.

In her freshman year, Smith and the Wildcats made it through the GNAC tournament and NCAA West Regionals to make it to the West Super Regionals before losing to number one seed Humboldt State University.

In her final season, Smith said the senior class is capable of leading the younger members of the team to the GNAC tournament, sub-rvegionals and super-regionals because of their experience.

“We just wanna go as far as we possibly can,” Smith said. “We know that experience and we just wanna try and get there one last time and have the underclassmen be able to experience that too. They’ve heard our stories about it, but they’ve never actually done it and it’s not really something words do justice to.”

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