Softball: Empire's slugging pitcher excels in circle, at the plate

2013-03-22T00:00:00Z 2015-07-21T09:38:45Z Softball: Empire's slugging pitcher excels in circle, at the plateChuck Constantino Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Empire junior Kelsey Smith is tearing the cover off the softball.

The slugging third baseman and No. 2 pitcher has provided the most power at the plate for the 12-1 Ravens with seven home runs, 30 RBIs and 12 doubles.

"She's been as successful against good pitching as she is against bad pitching," Empire coach Laura Espinoza-Watson said.

"That's pretty tough for a hitter to do."

Smith is batting .785 and has struck out just once this year. She is also 4-1 in the circle with 25 strikeouts and a 1.79 ERA through 15 innings. Here's a look at four of her top performances so far in this young season:

March 20 vs. San Manuel

At the plate: Smith blasted two home runs over the left-field fence. Her first, in the first inning, came on a full-count pitch; her second came in the third inning. Smith knocked in four runs, scored four times, walked and drew an intentional walk.

On the field: Smith started the game at third base and played four innings before entering the circle for the final inning of play. The Ravens won 17-0.

Big highlight: After hitting a three-run home run in her first at-bat and then drawing a walk, Smith took the first pitch she saw in the third deep over the left-field fence.

Quotable: "That at-bat looked like batting practice. She wasn't even going to flinch if (the pitcher) gave her something bad." - Espinoza-Watson

Feb. 23 vs. Anthem Boulder Creek

At the plate: Smith went 3 for 3 with two home runs, a double, four RBIs, three runs scored and one walk.

On the field: Smith pitched two innings in relief, tallying three strikeouts and earning a save. The Ravens beat Boulder Creek 10-1 in the Dorado Classic.

Big highlight: Smith was stellar offensively but may have had a better impact in the circle. She had struggled in her previous outing, against powerhouse.

Quotable: "My bat was on fire. It hasn't gone down since then." -Smith

Feb. 22 vs. Queen Creek

At the plate: Smith finished the game 2 for 3 with a double, single, two RBIs and two runs in a doubleheader at the Dorado Classic.

On the field: She pitched the Ravens to a 8-1 victory. She threw four innings, struck out seven and surrendered one hit.

Big highlight: After walking the first batter, Smith retired three straight to set the tone for a strong outing.

Quotable: "Because she struggled with control, it was one of her breakout performances." - Espinoza-Watson

Feb. 22 vs. Cholla

At the plate: Smith belted two doubles and a single for four RBIs in three plate appearances as Empire beat the Chargers 6-2.

On the field: She notched her first win on the season, tossing five innings and fanning four batters.

Big highlight: Smith's ability to hit the ball squarely gave her confidence to come back and focus.

Quotable: "That was a good turning point, it was early in the season and she bounced back on the hill and totally put her offensive game behind her." - Espinoza-Watson

Contact reporter Chuck Constantino at or 954-0859. On Twitter: @CConstan3 or @azprepstar

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