Smith won’t take ‘defeat’ for an answer

by Matt Bower

The word lose is just not in junior Bradi Smith’s vocabulary. The starting pitcher for the Storm softball team is a very determined and competitive player.

“Once she starts, she is business and business only,” coach Henry Christowski said. “She turns it on and doesn’t turn it off till the game is over.”

Christowski says Smith is never quite satisfied but that means she’ll keep getting better.

“She always wants more,” Christowski said.

Smith also possesses a great work ethic.

“If she was hurting, you wouldn’t know it,” junior Heather Beeler said. “She’d fight right through it.”

Both also said that while Smith is an aggressive player, she’s also a team player.

“She’ll share the spotlight with anyone,” Christowski said.

Smith said she genuinely enjoys the game of softball, but she also likes the team atmosphere.

“Especially here at Simpson, the girls are all so awesome,” Smith said. “They have good attitudes and always work hard.”

The respect and admiration Smith has for her teammates is reflected back to her.

Last year when her brother was in a bad car accident, the team rallied around Smith and her brother.

“There is a real family atmosphere on this team,” Smith said. “The girls sent flowers and the coaches sent a basket of Sports Illustrated magazines to my brother when he was in the hospital.”

Smith’s teammates describe her as a natural leader who leads by example.

“She may not be the most vocal but that is not a detriment by any means,” Beeler said. “She exudes confidence.”

That confidence translates to the team.

“We all have confidence with her on the mound,” Beeler said. “She has great composure on the mound.”

According to Christowski, Smith is also a versatile pitcher.

“She is more of a finesse pitcher now then when she first arrived but she has always been a powerful pitcher,” Christowski said.

Her pitching career started early.

“My dad and his buddies were all Little League coaches,” Smith said. “Originally I wanted to play first base, but when we realized there were no pitchers my dad said, ‘You’re going to do it,’ and so I did and realized I was okay at it.”

Smith’s competitive spirit has remained with her ever since her Little League days.

“She won’t let anyone beat her and I know from past experience,” Beeler said. “I played against her for years growing up. It’s nice to be on this end now.”

Smith is devoted to the game, and she has some peculiar superstitions to prove it.

“Before every game I have a meal of spaghetti and soy sauce with a can of Mountain Dew – that’s my favorite,” Smith said. “It’s the breakfast of champions.”

Smith sticks with what works, even if it means wearing worn apparel or using beat-up equipment. She wears her cleats until she can’t possibly use them anymore – even when she wears holes in them.

“I’ll usually have to get rid of the cleats because they’ll start to scrape my feet,” Smith said. “Socks are worse. Even if they’re full of holes, if they’re the winning socks, I keep them.”

It may be superstitious, but it works: Smith held a record of 18-2 as pitcher for the Storm last year. She allowed 86 hits, 30 walks and 21 runs while striking out 142 for an ERA of 0.56. She also went 6-for-8 in stolen bases. Smith was named second-team NFCA All Region, first-team All Conference and Academic All Conference in 2004 as well.

Smith’s only weakness may be one of her greatest strengths, her coach said.

“Never being satisfied with your performance can be a weakness, but only if you allow it to interfere,” Christowski said. “She has fun with it and there’s a pleasant disposition that she maintains while being competitive. She’s a pleasure to coach.”