The standard for Maryville College Softball continues to rise, as the Scots' Katlyn Smith was tabbed the program's first-ever All-American following her sophomore campaign.
Smith – the reigning USA South Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year – earned Third-Team All-American honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). The sophomore hurler finished the season with a 1.54 ERA and 200 total strikeouts in 167.2 innings pitched.
"Our biggest thing is playing to that standard," Head Coach Leah Kelley said of her squad's slogan. "Katlyn Smith is one of those kids that made our standard what it is. I don't think anybody is more deserving than she is to be named Maryville College Softball's first All-American. She really set a standard in herself of what it looks like to pitch here at Maryville College. That's what it takes – a pitcher at a caliber as herself to lead a team. This is a recognition that she deserves. I don't think anybody is more deserving than she is to be the first, and the first is always the standard. Our future pitchers have a lot to live up to."
Alongside Smith's Pitcher of the Year nod, she was also named the conference's Tournament MVP after leading the Scots to back-to-back Western Division Regular Season and Conference Tournament titles.
The Loganville, Ga. native was tabbed an All-Tournament honoree in the NCAA Regional Tournament, while garnering First Team All-Region accolades from the NFCA last month. Adding an All-American recognition was a big accomplishment, according to the pitcher.
"Coming into this year, it was a big season for me, knowing it might be my last," Smith said. "I worked so hard to accomplish a lot of things. Even though we may not have started off the way we wanted, we were able to come out and do what we wanted to do. I had the confidence in myself that I had gained through my teammates and my coaches, it really did a lot for me this year. Getting this award, I can't really thank my coaches for giving me the opportunities I've been given. It's just a big accomplishment for me."
Smith already holds the Maryville College mark for most career strikeouts – 323 total – in just two years wearing the Orange and Garnet. She holds a 39-8 record, while pitching 37 complete-game efforts.
The sophomore has tallied 7.5 strikeouts per seven innings.
"For me, it's knowing that I've been able to come in and help my team and represent my team and my school well," Smith said. "There's always going to be a first at everything, but being the first, it just kind of lets me know that I was here and I did something for the school. I represented the school well, including my coaches."
For Kelley, having the sophomore earn the honor helps to shine a light on the Maryville College program.
In just two years with Smith, the sophomore has led the Scots to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances and a 60-25 record. MC has gone 27-3 in league play during that span.
"It's huge," Kelley said. "Not only is she getting this recognition for herself, but she's putting Maryville College Softball on the map. Without her, I truly don't believe we have the success that we've had this past two seasons. I'm very proud for her and seeing her hard work pay off. We talk about playing to a standard, and she's one of those kids that set the standard for what pitching should look like in our program. She's definitely done her job of putting us on the map."
Both Smith and Kelley credited pitching Coach Kadey Robinson for putting the young pitcher in a place for success.
Kelley said Robinson's communication and relationship with the pitchers is one of the best she's ever seen.
"That relationship is so huge, alongside Alexus Murray behind the plate catching for her," Kelley said. "Katlyn and Coach Robinson came in at the same time, so all they know is each other. It's a really cool thing to see that relationship between them – how coachable Katlyn is. Coach Robinson always pitches to her strength. She doesn't so much pitch to a batter's weakness, she pitches to Katlyn's strengths. I think that's a huge part to our game and what makes them so successful."
Smith agreed, saying Robinson and her teammates are what put her in a position for success. She says the growth from her freshman campaign to this season was all because of those behind her.
"A lot of it was my coaches and my teammates," Smith said. "I couldn't do it without them, and I couldn't do it without the confidence they gave me. They allowed me to find the confidence in myself over time. It's my sophomore year, and a lot of times, they talk about a sophomore slump. For me to be able to work so hard and give everything I have to this team, it's just been an honor for me."
Kelley says the growth Smith has shown in just two seasons is astonishing.
She said the sophomore is set up for whatever may come next, as she plans to enroll in nursing school.
"That says a lot," Kelley said. "There's still a lot she wants to do in this game. She has a bright future in the game and in life. She's one of those kids that have really matured and found herself this year. I know she wants to go into the nursing program, and hopefully, continue with her softball career. We're excited, not only to see her perform more on the field, but also in life."