Belmont’s softball team is in the thick of a new season — with some new faces both on the diamond and in the dugout.
Coach Megan Rhodes Smith, the new head softball coach, is ready and confident to lead the Bruins to success as she is hoping to have yet another successful season.
This Tennessee native has spent the last six seasons focusing on the development of pitchers and catchers at Lipscomb University, with the last two years serving as the program’s associate head coach, according to Belmont Athletics.
She attended Nashville’s David Lipscomb High School, then continued her softball career at the University of Tennessee, where she was an all-star pitcher. She left the program ranked second all-time in strikeouts with 726 and third in wins with 67. She also made three appearances in the Women’s College World Series.
At Lipscomb, she helped improve its pitching staff tremendously. The team saw its ERA go from 2.81 to 2.31, its record from 35-24 to 41-15 and opposing batting average from .249 to .226. She also helped the Bisons decrease runs allowed from 201 to 153, hits allowed from 425 to 323 and home runs allowed from 37 to 28.
Getting the team to “buy in” to a new coach’s philosophy can be hard, but it seems the team is all in, said Smith.
“I’ve been really pleased with the ability of our entire team to open up to what we want this program to be,” said Smith. “We have set some lofty goals and set their sights on the top.”
Most coaches’ goals are to win championships and nothing is different for Smith. Having a mindset of trying to win championships will help the team grow, said Smith.
“My belief is that if we are shooting for a championship then we will do the things that help us to move forward right away.”
The game is based on relationships and just being able to be competitive, but still have a good time. As a former college athlete, Smith knows that most of these girls will only have four years before they may never play softball again. She wants to make sure these girls are having fun and making lifelong friendships.
“It’s really fun to do life with people and it’s really sad that you only get four years together,” said Smith.
Her time on the field helps her to be closer with the players and help them prepare better for games. Having the players work together and figure out what they need to do as a team is also important, said Smith. Due to her years of playing, the athletes respect her methods.
“I prefer team lead because, I think that they get to be the ones who are on the field so the more that we can teach them about how to get themselves up for a game or calm themselves,” said Smith. “Just to prepare the way that they need. Then we are all functioning at a high level I believe.”
Article written by Hanley Riggs. Photo courtesy of Belmont Athletics.