FINDING HER GROOVE

With a sister that played for Columbus East and a father who played in slow-pitch leagues, Hayley Smalley has grown up close to the game of softball.

“I’ve always been around softball ever since I can remember,” Smalley said.

Now a junior at East, Smalley is trying to help turn the Olympians into a winning program. The Olympians, who host crosstown rival Columbus North today, entered the week with a 2-10 record.

As Smalley has gone, so has East. Both got off to a rocky start this season before picking up steam with wins against Bloomington North and Edinburgh.

“She kind of got off to a little bit of a slow start,” first-year East coach Rusty Brummett said. “Brownstown put the ball in play a little bit against her, probably more than she had anticipated, and Greensburg did, as well.

“But I think she’s come back pretty well,” he said. “She’s pitched a couple of nice ballgames. She still has things to work on, obviously, but so far I think she’s had a pretty good season. She still needs to fine-tune some things, but she’s kept us in a lot of ballgames.”

Brummett said Smalley’s fastball has been clocked at 62 mph and that she consistently throws in high 50s.

“She has a decent fastball,” Brummett said. “She does have several pitches that she can throw. Control has been a big thing for her. If she is hitting her spots, she will compete against anybody we play. If she starts missing her spots, then we’re in a little bit of trouble.”

Smalley uses mainly a fastball, change-up and drop-curve.

“I need to get ahead in the count,” Smalley said. “Once you get ahead in the count, you can throw all the junk pitches you want.”

While Smalley entered the week with only a 1-6 record and 5.50 ERA, she has been possibly more productive on offense. She was third on the team with a .323 batting average and second on the squad with six RBIs.

“I think our pitching is doing a lot better this year,” Smalley said. “Hitting is, too. Defense is getting there. We need to constantly be able to field ground balls. It’s just getting back to fundamentals.”

Smalley said she hopes to be able to both hit and pitch in college. She has participated in camps at Indiana Wesleyan, IUPUI and Indiana State.

“Those are some of the main colleges I’m looking at right now,” Smalley said. “They offer everything I want to do. There are some out of state, also.”

For now, Smalley is hoping to get better, both individually and with her team.

“I’d like to get more strikeouts than I did last year (43) and end with a higher batting average than I have now, Smalley said. “We’d like to win more games than we did last year.”

If you go

What: Columbus East vs. Columbus North softball

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: Columbus East High School

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.