Jun. 9—PIEDMONT — Savannah Smith's big season for Piedmont's softball team came with shocking news after the fact.
The sophomore second baseman and pitcher played the season's final month-plus with a fractured left tibia. Now in a protective boot, she's traveling with her travel team but not playing.
For doing all she did to that point, and continuing to do what she could down the stretch to help Piedmont win an area title and make back-to-back state-tournament appearances, she is The Anniston Star's Class 1A-3A Calhoun County player of the year.
Smith was most valuable player of the area tournament and made the all-county tourney team, helping Piedmont win the area title and advance to the county finals.
She batted .357 with a .432 on-base percentage and .545 slugging percentage. She hit two home runs, three triples, 15 doubles and drove in 31 runs.
She did most of her work in the circle before her April 14 injury, going 7-7 with three saves, 94 strikeouts, a 3.01 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 24 appearances.
In Oklahoma City for a tournament with the Birmingham Vipers travel team, the two-time Alabama Sports Writers Association all-state player took a few minutes to participate in the player-of-the-year Q&A:
Question: You learned the severity of your injury after the season. When and how did it happen?
Answer: We were playing Sand Rock, and I was throwing, and I kind of landed kind of wonky, and I was like, 'That didn't really feel good.' I threw a couple of more pitches and got through the inning, and I went out in the next inning and looked over at mom and was like, something's wrong. She called timeout and walked out there, and I was like, 'Something ain't right.' She said, 'OK, can you play second?' I said, 'Sure,' and just went over there.'
Q: That's your plant foot, so how much did it take you out of the picture, in terms of pitching?
A: I wasn't able to throw at regionals. We were playing Geraldine and kind of got in a hole. They scored four runs in the first inning, and our other pitcher, Emma Grace (Todd), didn't warm up, so I was playing second, and I hadn't thrown since the area tournament, so I was like, 'Put me in, and I'll get us through the inning and give Emma Grace time to warm up.' So, I threw one inning at the regional and didn't throw at all at the state tournament.
Q: How did it impact you batting, running the bases and playing in the field?
A: I could feel it, if I was running to first. The adrenaline kind of kicked in, and I didn't really feel much of it.
Q: How are they treating it, and what's the prognosis for the summer?
A: I'm out for four weeks. Basically, all I can do is throw overhanded, but all I know is that I'm going to have to work hard to get back to where I was and work hard in the offseason to get better than I was last year. Dr. Kelly told me that I would be out all of June, and then I'd come and re-evaluate in July. If it's not better in July, he'll put me on crutches for a week or so and see how we go from there.
Q: You've had some time to look back on the season, so what to make of the team's accomplishments this year?
A: As a team, during practices, we worked really, really hard. We faced a lot of adversity in this season, but I feel like we did a really good job of facing that and saying, 'Hey, we can do this.' Getting back to the state tournament was really big for us. At regionals, we put ourselves in a hole, going 1-1 the first day. We had to come back and win three games the second day. Mom just told us before the game, we made a promise to each other. We went around a circle and said, 'Hey, I've got your back.' We promised to ourselves that we were going to make it out of regional and get back to state.
Q: What about your season, individually?
A: I always try to do the best for my team, but I always want to do better than last year. A goal of mine this year was to just hit better than last year and have a better defensive fielding percentage and everything like that. I just set little goals for myself. I'm trying not to be too hard on myself, but it's hard sometimes. I just want to also have a really good demeanor while I was playing. I wanted to be a leader for everybody else and not show a lot of emotion, just kind of blank face kind of thing.
Q: Your mom is your head coach, and your dad is Piedmont's head football coach. What's it like being the child of two coaches?
A: There's a lot that goes into that, now. It's kind of a non-stop, talking-about-sports kind of thing, but I always ask them, 'What can I do better?' after every game. Like, can I do this better? What should I have done on this play? They're always there for me. Luckily, they're not too hard on me, but I'm always there for some good criticism.
Q: Older brothers Sean and Sloan are also known for their sports successes at Piedmont. What's it like to be the youngest sibling of two other accomplished athletes?
A: It's kind of hard to live up to what Sean Smith has done. I mean, that's my older brother. People always say we're twins, but I'll go down to his room, and he's got all of these awards in his room, and I'm like, 'I want to be like that one day.' His whole wall is filled up with awards, and I'm like, 'I want my room to look like that.'
Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.