By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — Coming to McAlester High School from Frink-Chambers, Courtney Smith needed a lot of help from her older sister Cheyenne to find her way. When Smith joined the Lady Buffs softball team, Cheyenne and other upperclassmen helped her fit in.
Now a senior herself, Smith said she’s made sure to treat her younger teammates the same way.
“The seniors don’t treat the freshmen differently,” Smith said. “We’re all like sisters. We’re really close as a team.
“My softball girls are my go-to people. I can talk to them about anything.”
Born in McAlester, Smith said she started playing t-ball when she was 4 or 5. She still remembers sliding into first base during a coach-pitch game, “and I learned never to do that again.”
Smith went on to play for the Frink-Chambers Lady Falcons, including on the 2007 team that won an Organization of Rural Elementary Schools state championship.
She made her first start as a Lady Buff during her sophomore year.
“I was so nervous, definitely, being one of the younger ones out there with all the seniors out there,” Smith said of her first varsity game. “I was terrified, because there were only three of us that weren’t seniors. So definitely I was afraid to make a mistake and get yelled at, but the seniors calmed me down and told me to just go out there and have fun.”
Throughout her career, Smith said she’s played every position but pitcher. But this season Smith has almost exclusively played the two corner outfield positions, which has allowed her to show off her strong arm.
“We do a lot of lifting,” Smith said. “I think it’s made me a lot stronger.
“It kind of puts a lot of pressure on you. Even if it gets past the infielder, you’re there, but you know it can’t get past you.”
This final season for Smith has already passed the halfway point. But even once it’s over, it won’t be too long before Smith returns to competitive athletics, as she said she wants to become a physical therapist.
Smith’s choice of profession comes not only from her love of softball, but her own injuries as well. Smith tore the medial collateral ligament in her knee during a JV game her freshman year, and she rehabbed on her own to return for her sophomore year.
“There was a pop fly between third and catcher, and the catcher slid into my knee,” Smith said of her MCL injury. “And then I continued to play the rest of the game, so that didn’t help.
“I was in a brace for eight weeks, I was in crutches for six.”
Smith said she’s also battled back injuries for the last year and a half.
“It’s never going to stop me from playing the game,” Smith said. “I had to sit out three games this year, which killed me, it being my senior year.
But I got released, so I’m back and ready to play.”
Smith has already attended an athletic training camp at Oklahoma State University. And while she might go there for her undergraduate degree, she said she’ll likely transfer for graduate work.
“I just like helping people, and I always want to be around sports, so I never want to give that up,” Smith said.
Smith said she typically trains for softball year round, spending the offseason working out or playing on McAlester’s summer team. She also enjoys spending time with friends and takes college-level classes at Eastern Oklahoma State College’s McAlester branch.
Often the nine-hole hitter for the Lady Buffs, Smith was batting .306 as of Saturday afternoon with a triple, a home run, six RBIs and four runs scored. Those numbers don’t put Smith at the top of any offensive categories, but what Smith doesn’t provide in offense, she more than makes up for in spirit and attitude.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.