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Old Town standout pitcher signs letter of intent to attend Saint Anselm

Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Old Town's McKenna Smith pitches to Old Town during their softball game at Hermon, May 17, 2016.
By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff
Updated:

McKenna Smith, who pitched Old Town High School to its second straight Class B softball state championship last spring, has signed a national letter of intent to attend Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, beginning in the fall.

The senior from Alton, who signed her letter of intent Monday at Old Town High, will be a scholarship athlete at the Division II institution.

Smith had a remarkable junior season in which she compiled a 13-1 record, an .82 earned run average and 182 strikeouts in 90 innings. She did not allow a run and gave up only eight hits in four playoff outings with 54 strikeouts.

She struck out 19 and tossed a three-hitter in the 2-0 victory over Fryeburg Academy in the state final.

“I’m really excited,” Smith, 17, said. “I’m very happy with my decision.”

Smith said she was considering other colleges but once she visited Saint Anselm, she was sold on it.

“All of the coaches I talked to at the other schools were great, but I felt a connection at Saint Anselm that I hadn’t felt anyplace else,” Smith said. “I connected with the coaches. They were former pitchers in college themselves.

“It is also a great school academically and it has the field I want to go into: pre-med,” Smith added.

Saint Anselm head coach Jill Gagnon was a former pitcher-first baseman at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, and assistant coach Tayla Trask was a former Penobscot Valley Conference Class B Pitcher of the Year at Lincoln’s Mattanawcook Academy before putting together an outstanding career at Saint Anselm. She is the Hawks’ pitching coach.

“[Smith] deserves it,” Old Town coach Jenn Plourde said. “She lives and breathes softball and her hard work has paid off. She throws hard, she has a lot of movement on her pitches, and she hits her spots. She has a bunch of pitches, and we mix it up as much as we possibly can.”

Smith also is an outstanding defensive center fielder and hitter. She hit .417 last spring with four homers and 23 runs batted in. She was the center fielder in 2016 when Olivia Albert pitched all of the playoff games.

“I’m definitely going to work my butt off so I can pitch my freshman year. That’s what I love to do and what I want to do,” Smith said. “But if they choose to put me in another position, I’ll do it. I love to play anywhere.”

Smith also plays field hockey and is an outstanding high jumper on the indoor track team although she plans to pass up indoor track this year to concentrate on softball.

Smith plays softball for Sluggers in Brewer and travels from Alton to Ellsworth virtually every Sunday morning from September until the end of June to work with pitching guru Rick Roberts.

“He has been amazing. You couldn’t ask for a better pitching coach,” Smith said.

Plourde and Smith agreed that her improved composure was a key factor in last year’s success.

“She was a lot more positive. She wasn’t as hard on herself,” Plourde said.

Her going to Saint Anselm is dependent upon her being accepted into the school and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.

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