Junior pitcher and outfielder Morgan Smith has made a big impact since joining the Rutgers softball team. Smith was added to the Scarlet Knights' (30-20, 7-10) roster this year for her first season after transferring from LSU.
Coming from Phoenix, Arizona, Smith has grown up surrounded by sports. As the years started to go by, she felt as if softball was the sport she had the biggest connection with compared to the other sports she had participated in.
"Playing for good travel ball teams and elite travel ball teams is kind of the goal for everybody," Smith said. "So I think from the beginning, I always thought going to college (for softball) was part of my future."
During her high school softball career, Smith had a junior year season record of 15-0 with 187 strikeouts in 100.2 innings of work in the circle.
During her time on the Banks at Rutgers, Smith has pitched in nine games. She holds a 3.92 earned run average and has punched out 55 total batters.
Smith mentioned that when she played at LSU, she did not pitch. Pitching for the Knights has been the first time she has pitched in three years, and Smith still feels like she’s learning on the mound.
"In terms of pitching and my presence on the mound, my mindset on the mound, a lot of it is changing every day," Smith said. "My biggest focus, as of late in terms of pitching, has been to focus more on my teammates because when I focus too much on what I’m doing, sometimes it can get overwhelming. So I think pouring more onto your teammates and those around you can help in those situations — having that trust. It makes life a little bit easier having those friends around you."
As of April 27, Smith currently bats a .331 average, which is the second highest on the team, following junior shortstop Kyleigh Sand.
When describing herself, Smith used the words "intense" and "determined" to define her abilities as a batter and fielder. The intensity that the player shows during games can also be used to convey how she prepares herself for different games. Smith tries her best to keep it calm and loose before games.
"I think my biggest focus, especially during warmups before the game, is to make sure I'm focusing on my eyes," she said. "Especially when we’re hitting … making sure that I’m not just swinging at everything during front toss."
Smith has captured a lot of memories this season as a new team member. She stated that her favorite game from this season was the first double-header game Rutgers played against Maryland on April 5, where the Knights won on a four-run rally to walk it off in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"The thing that I think a lot of people don’t realize about moments like that is what made it so great was the fact that I think it showed a lot of us that the game really isn’t over until it’s over," Smith said. "It’s easy to assume that, 'Oh, it’s 3-0, and we’re getting shut out in the sixth inning, the game is most likely over.'"
During that game, Smith singled to left field, allowing Sand and junior outfielder Leilani Chavez to bring in the winning runs. Smith said that the level of commitment and teamwork displayed during that game was unmatched.
"That was probably the most connected we had been as a team all year," Smith said.
The player's impact on the team has not gone unnoticed this season. She currently holds a team-high of 39 runs batted in this season, along with 34 runs and 5 home runs.
With two more weekend series left, Rutgers will strive to pick up more wins before the season ends.
"We all have our differences, but I’m glad that I’ve been given this opportunity to be around such positive and enjoyable people," Smith said. "I’m just thankful to be here."
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