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‘Out for blood’: Hailey Smith looks to hit softball season out of park

Courtesy+of+CSU+Athletics+
Courtesy of CSU Athletics

Pitchers, be wary.

Colorado State softball had an unexpected end to the season after being upset by No. 6 Nevada a season ago. That game is still on the mind of outfielder Hailey Smith, who is shaping up to be one of the best hitters in the Mountain West this season.

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“The only words that come to mind (are), like, ‘out for blood,'” Smith said. “I feel like we have such amazing players on this team this year. I just see all-around talent everywhere, even with some of the freshmen and stuff. I feel like we’re going to make some impact, and I’m very excited to see what we can accomplish.”

After leading the team with 12 home runs last year, Smith certainly seems ready for a jump forward — maybe to 15 or 16. But that’s not a number she’s concerned with. In fact, it’s not something she’s thinking about at all.

“I honestly have this weird superstition where I can’t talk about the home runs because I feel like I’m going to jinx myself or something,” Smith said. “I’m just looking for solid at-bats, doing things that score runs or move the runner, honestly. And then if home runs and power comes, then I’m very excited about it.”

With her breakout season last year, the opposing pitchers aren’t just going to throw a fastball down the middle for Smith to feast on.

That brings her a new challenge: Her at-bats now become a mind game. That added dimension of playing the ball count will be a big part of Smith’s upcoming season — something that has been one of the focal points of her offseason. 

“I feel like knowing the type of hitter that I am (and) understanding the type of pitches that I am going to get and being OK with the walks and less strikeouts are my main thing,” Smith said. “Because I feel like just getting on base with the walks or swinging at better pitches will just add more runs.”

The work Smith has put in certainly seems to be noticed by her teammates. 

Outside of the time Smith clocks with coach Jen Fisher, Smith also puts in work with her mom, Jennifer Morandini, known as Jennifer Brewster when she played at UCLA and won the 1995 NCAA National Championship with the Bruins. Between both Fisher and Morandini, it’s no wonder Smith ranks at the top of the MW in home runs. 

“Well, I know she stays in close contact with her mom,” CSU outfielder Molly Gates said. “And Hailey, whenever she feels something wrong with her swing, she’ll be like, ‘Hey, let me take a video of it, let me talk to the coaches, let me talk with my mom.’”

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That work thus far in her career has certainly paid its dividends. 

While Smith is ready to reap those benefits for another shot at a MW championship, putting in the amount of work that you have to do to reach those heights doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be miserable throughout the process. 

“Oh, my God, she’s hilarious,” Gates said. “She’s really fun. But when she’s on the field, she’s locked in and just really passionate. And then off the field, she’s just fun (and) goofy — she’s like Barbie. She loves Fortnite, she’s silly, but she’s fun to be around, and she’s really fun to play with and compete with.”

Reach Damon Cook at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @dwcook2001.

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About the Contributor
Damon Cook, Sports Editor
Damon Cook is the 2023-24 sports editor for the The Collegian and has been at the paper since August 2022. He started doing coverage on volleyball and club sports before moving onto the women's basketball beat. He is in his third year and is completing his degree with a major in journalism and media communication and a minor in sports management. As The Collegian's sports editor, Cook reports on CSU sports and helps manage the sports desk and content throughout the week. After having a year to learn and improve, Cook will now get to be part of a new age under the sports desk. The desk moved on from all but one other person and will now enter into a new era. Damon started school as a construction management major looking to go in a completely different direction than journalism. After taking the year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly realized that construction wasn't for him. With sports and writing as passions, he finally decided to chase his dreams, with The Collegian helping him achieve that. He is most excited to bring the best and most in-depth sports coverage that The Collegian can provide.

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