May 25, 2018
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Family bond helps Calais softball player thrive as pitcher, hitter

Courtesy photo | BDN
Courtesy photo | BDN
Calais pitcher Olivia Smith has helped lead the Blue Devils to a 16-0 regular-season record and the No. 1 berth in Eastern Maine Class C softball.
By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

Justis Smith wanted to make sure her husband, Greg Smith, and daughter, Olivia Smith, had an amicable and productive dialogue after a softball game. Greg Smith is the head softball coach at Calais High School, and Olivia Smith is the team’s pitching ace.

Greg Smith said there were some tense moments when he began coaching his daughter several years ago because he would critique her performance right after the game.

“But my wife told me to say something positive first and then let things digest for a while [before critiquing her performance],” he said. “I’m glad my wife picked up on that. Things have been good.”

“We have a rule in the house that we can’t talk about the game until a few hours later. That gives us time to let things sink in,” said Olivia Smith.

That formula has been working very nicely.

Smith has been having a tremendous year in leading the Blue Devils to a 16-0 record and the top seed in the Eastern Maine Class C playoffs.

Smith, a junior, is 12-0 as a pitcher with an 0.29 earned run average. She has struck out 136 and walked just 15 in 72 innings.

She is hitting .708 with five homers and 35 RBIs. She also has 10 doubles.

“She has been a leader for us in the circle as well as hitting,” said Greg Smith. “But we have a lot of good players that also deserve credit, and she knows it. She knows she can’t do it alone, and she is very positive with them.”

“I’m not afraid to let my defense do the work. I really rely on them. They’re awesome,” said Olivia Smith.

She has had better location with her pitches and has been more composed this season. That has led to her success, which includes a perfect game 9-0 win over a good Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln team on June 2. She struck out 17.

“Ever since I’ve been playing, my dad has told me if I can keep my walks under three a game, it’s a good game,” she said.

“She has had better control,” Greg Smith said. “She has a good defense behind her and that has helped her out. She has had more velocity on her fastball and she also throws a screwball, drop and changeup. She has tried to keep the hitters off-balance.

“She’s not overpowering but her spins are good,” he added.

“And I’m not afraid to throw any of my pitches in any count. My goal this year is to keep hitters off-balance and and I’ve done pretty well with it,” Olivia Smith said.

She also is more resilient in the circle.

“If the umpire doesn’t give me the corner or they get a hit off me, it’s no big deal,” she said.

As a hitter, Smith tries to work the pitcher by fouling pitches off. She said her dad has helped her improve her bat speed.

“He’ll get behind a screen and pitch to us, windmill-style, from very close,” she said. “That prepares us for fast pitching.”

Greg Smith admitted that he is a little tougher on his daughter, but she doesn’t mind.

“He has been my coach since T-ball. He has been my math teacher at the high school, and he’s my dad. So he’s always involved in my life, and that has given us a real good bond,” she said.


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