(Photo by Regina Lexi Rickert)
After the disappointing end to a very good season for Kentucky softball, the future looks very bright. Much of the core is returning, and a strong class is coming in; highlighted by UK softball signee pitcher Shannon Smith, who has been named the 2013 Gatorade Massachusetts Softball Player of the Year for the third time during her high school career.
Smith plays for Milford High School, a team still working its way through the Massachusetts State Softball Tournament. She also won the award in 2010 and 2012. The award credits outstanding athletic excellence, but also a student who excels in the classroom, and shows character off the field. The honor clearly marks her the among the best softball players in the country, and puts her in the running for the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year award, announced later in June.
Kentucky is getting a pitcher whose senior year stats are just silly. Smith led her team to a 21-1 record with a 0.05 ERA, 293 strikeouts, only six walks, in 138 innings pitched. She can rake it at the dish too, sporting a .486 batting average with seven homers and 29 RBI.
From the future of Kentucky softball to the past… Three former UK softball stars have been named into Kentucky state hall of fames for their high school accomplishments, Meagan Aull, Rachel Riley, and Brooke Marnitz.
Aull is a member of the Kentucky Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Class of 2012. Her career at Owensboro Catholic involved being named Kentucky Miss Softball in 2007, All-America honorable mention, and first-team All-State honors. In her time as a Wildcat, Aull was named a 2011 Capital One Academic All-American, among a host of other awards. She ended her career in 2011 with 220 consecutive starts in centerfield and 71 stolen bases, which ranks second-most in Kentucky school history.
Riley is a member of the KSCA Hall of Fame Class of 2013 and will be inducted later this summer. She helped Greenwood to back-to-back state titles in her junior and senior seasons, earning more than 45 wins in the circle during that time. Riley holds Greenwood school records in singles, doubles, walks, sacrifice hits, batting average, assists, fielding percentage, and strikeouts. She ended her career at Kentucky in 2012 among the school’s best pitchers of all time.
Marnitz was named one of 11 members to the Dawahares/Kentucky High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame Class of 2014. Marnitz was a star at Lexington Paul Dunbar, and was named Miss Softball in 2003. She is among the best offensive players to ever play at Kentucky, ranking in the top 10 in nearly every offensive category. Her career ended in 2007 and her batting average of .320 ranked fourth-best in UK school history. Her 31 home runs rank first.
Congratulations to these softball players, past and present, who represent Kentucky so well. The future is bright in more sports than just basketball and football. Jump on the bandwagon now, because this softball team is going places.