Where I Lead: In the pitching circle

Kylee Smith
was named the Schutt Sports/National Fastpitch Coaching Association Division II National Player of the Year. The international affairs major from Suwanee, Georgia, finished the 2018 season as the NCAA Division II leader in three categories: 36 victories, 338 strikeouts and a 0.59 ERA. She was also the Peach Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year as UNG won its fifth straight regular-season and tournament PBC titles.

What do you enjoy most about softball?

I most enjoy the friendships that I make through it. We’ve all been playing since we were little. So it’s just part of our life. The people that I meet and the friends that I’ll have throughout college and after college, that’s what I enjoy the most.

What made you want to major in international affairs?

I love to travel. My family, when we were growing up, traveled all the time. My dad worked on so many military bases when I was little, so he would always come back home from long trips and give me the rundown of what goes on at a military base in different countries. And I just thought it was so fascinating. After growing up listening to my dad’s stories, I wanted to pursue it.

What is your most meaningful accomplishment so far at UNG?

Just being able to pitch in college. Growing up I was always told I would never pitch in college so I should just quit. So being able to actually throw in college and play for such a great program, that’s the most meaningful it could ever be. Because I have been told that I can’t do it so many times, I just pushed myself even harder and blocked that out. Since people didn’t think I could do it, I had the mindset of “watch me and I will prove you wrong.” Coach Mike Davenport (head softball coach at UNG) was the only one who took a shot on me and gave me a chance. I owe him everything in my softball career because he kept my dream going. He made the national player of the year award a possibility.

Did you ever think you would achieve so much success on the softball field and be named the 2018 national player of the year as a sophomore?

Throughout my softball career I’ve faced a lot of adversity and hard times, so I thought there’s no way that I would earn such an honor. There are so many other amazing people that we have played or I saw play. I wondered, “How did I get it?”

As the pitcher, you are a leader on the team. How do you handle that role?

Your team looks to you to step up and they’re right there behind me. They make amazing plays. So, we have eight other leaders on the team besides the pitcher in the circle.