Since Mike Smith became coach of the Ole Miss softball program in 2014 things have been looking up for the team including most wins by the team, 1st ever NCAA Tournament appearance and first ever SEC Tournament win to name just a few of their achievements.
With all that success the fans have also come out to support the team making last season a record-breaking year for attendance for Ole Miss softball.
Things are looking good for this year’s team as Coach Smith looks to continue the growth of Ole Miss softball.
1-What is the best thing about being the head softball coach at Ole Miss?
(Coach Mike Smith) – That I get to make an impact on each of these young ladies each and every day. Being able to coach such highly skilled softball players makes it so much fun to go to work each day… if you call this work. When they put all the aspects to this great game of softball together it is a beautiful thing to watch. Proud “papa” moment.
Being able to coach in the SEC at Ole Miss is a dream come true. To have an opportunity to wear “Ole Miss” on my clothing everyday and to have an opportunity to build something special here is a dream come true. Being able to coach against the elite of the elite players and coaches every week… WOW! This is like the “BIG LEAGUES, MLB” of college softball.
2- With the great growth the team showed last season does that put extra pressure on you for this season?
(Coach Mike Smith) – Not extra pressure, but many expectations. I know my staff thrives on these expectations and my team as well. If we can play and coach to the best of our abilities each and everyday (whether at practice or game), those expectations will be met. We all know in this program what we are capable of doing and these young ladies have a fire in their bellies to be better than last year. I love the drive and dedication of this team.
3- Losing your workhorse pitcher Madi Osias to graduation how do you fill such a big hole in your teams starting pitching rotation?
(Coach Mike Smith) – Well, losing a great pitcher and leader like Madi will be tough to lose, but we have some great returning pitchers and some new ones that will give us some great stability in the circle. Alyssa Clayton, our JC transfer last year went out in week three with a broken rib and never returned. Madi and Alyssa were both throwing well at the time. She is now 100% healthy and excited to get back in the circle. Sitting out for an entire year helped her love the game so much more and will never take this game or the opportunity she has for granted ever again.
We have a transfer from Oklahoma, Brittany Finney. She was a freshman last year, only saw a few innings… As Paige Parker threw most of the innings for OU on their way to wining the World Series. Out of HS, she was one of the top pitchers in the country and won the Kansas Gatorade “Player of the Year”. She not only pitches, but can hit has well.
Great power hitter that could make a big impact in our offensive lineup. Also, Freshman Morgan Bruce from Virginia (Birmingham Bolts Travel Ball) and transfer Kaitlin Lee (JC All American Pitcher from Gulf Coast CC) who won over 40 games in two seasons.
I’m excited about are many option in the circle this season. Pray that they all stay healthy and get better each and every day the have an opportunity to step into the circle.
4- What do you see as some of the positives and negatives of playing in such a tough conference like the SEC?
(Coach Mike Smith) – Positive: You are battle tested each and every week, mentally, physically and emotionally. Each and every week its a Super Regional type series. The players are so good up and down each line up, you can’t make many if any at all and expect for them to not capitalize on them. You can’t take any pitches off or you will pay. With that, you are SO READY for post season.
Negative: Its a battle and you give everything you have the last 8 weeks of the Regular Season, so you are beat up and beat down by the time you get to post season. There is NO BREAKS in the Reg season schedule. “Dog Eat Dog Conference”. You win loss record is affected too, which could hurt you down the stretch if you are close to having a .500 record and trying to get into post season. Every non-conf contest is very important, because your conf record can take a hit. Lets put it this way… we finished 9th in the conf. standing (11-13), one game behind Georgia, didn’t have a winning conf record and yet finished the year in the Top 25, a #2 seed in the OU regional and had the best season in school history (41-22)… And yet some will look at our conf and question why we get 10-11 teams in the post season.
The SEC is about as tough as it gets and I know that myself nor my SEC coaching colleagues wouldn’t want it any other way. We love the competition and we love the talent that is displayed each and every weekend.
5- What is the one thing your try instilling in your players for success?
(Coach Mike Smith) – Well, are mantra this year is C.A.T.C.H the Vision… Committed Approach To Championship Hunt – I want our players to commit to our Vision (Expectations) each and every day they step on the field, they are in the classroom, they are with their teammates/ coaches and when they prepare for their next game. We want them to focus less on the results and more on the process and what drives this process is their character, which drives the result.
Having the discipline to their commitment is necessary if we are headed towards one goal… to win CHAMPIONSHIPS.
Fun Interview Questions:
(Coach Mike Smith) – My wife’s Broccoli Stir fry and Broccoli Cheese Soup.
2-Best Vacation Spot?
(Coach Mike Smith) – Don’t vacation a lot… but I love my hometown of San Diego. Now that I don’t live there anymore, we love to go back any time we can. So much to do and the weather is awesome. “America’s Finest City”, but I can say that Oxford, MS is pretty great place too.
(Coach Mike Smith) – I have two; Shawshank Redemption & Bull Durham