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Jaguars’ Smith ready for her return

Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Blue Springs South softball player Elle Smith poses with her father Bobby Smith at a tournament for her summer Top Gun team. Smith says working out at her father's gym has helped her bounce back from a torn labrum operation that forced her to miss her sophomore season with the state champion Jaguars.

If you want to work up a sweat, watch Blue Springs South softball standout Elle Smith’s Twitter workouts.

After missing all of last season’s second-consecutive state championship run following surgery for a torn labrum, the 4-foot-11 left fielder began a workout routine that would put many competitors to shame.

“I’m lucky my dad owns a gym, Total Body Fitness in Lee’s Summit, so I always have a place to work out,” said Smith, who has enjoyed the type of success this summer she enjoyed as a freshman when she played a key role in the Jaguars’ first state championship.

“My dad, Bobby Smith, has been with me all the way. If I needed to go in early, I could. If I needed to stay late he was right there with me. He helped me work out at home when the coronavirus hit and we couldn’t use the gym.

“And I know it’s a cliche, but I worked so hard because I knew if I wasn’t working, someone else was. And I wasn’t going to let anyone outwork me this summer – no one!”

If she wasn’t working out, she was starring for her Top Gun 16U National team that finished the summer with a 42-16-4 record, a second-place finish in the PGF Independence Day Invitational and a top-10 finish in the USA Gold Nationals. She hit at a .450 clip, stole 38 bases and drove in 47 runs.

“We couldn’t play in Missouri, so we played a lot in Oklahoma, Kansas, Indiana and Arkansas,” she said. “We started the season in Benton, Oklahoma, and in my first at-bat in over a year I hit a leadoff triple.

“It was one of the biggest hits of my life. I had so much fun watching our girls (from South) win the championship last year, but nothing can compare to playing, and I hope we get to play this fall.”

At press time, the Missouri State High School Activities Association said that fall sports would take place in many Missouri school districts, including Eastern Jackson County.

“I felt so bad that many of our seniors couldn’t play spring sports – especially our seniors,” Smith said, “and now, we’re all wondering what will happen this fall. Everything is up in the air and seems to be changing all the time, so I’m just going to keep working hard and getting ready for whatever happens.”

Smith played a key part in the championship her freshman season, making a game-saving catch in the bottom of the seventh inning in an extra-innings win over Lee’s Summit North in the district championship game.

“One thing I always say about Elle is that she does everything 100,000 miles per hour,” Blue Springs South coach Kristi Williams said. “That is a play she makes every day in practice. She’s going to go for that catch. That’s what she does. And when we needed it the most, she delivered.”

And what would a three-peat mean to one of the most highly recruited left fielders in the state?

“Everything,” she said, grinning from ear to ear. “I got spoiled winning state as a freshman. Then, I got to watch our girls win it again last year, and this year, I’m hoping to be back and healthy and ready to play.

“They say you don’t appreciate something until it is taken away and having softball taken away from me made me love the sport even more. And I didn’t think that was possible.”

Elle Smith’s summer

Blue Springs South outfielder Elle Smith’s statistics this summer with her Top Gun 16U National team:

Batting average: .450

Runs: 67

RBIs: 47

Stolen bases: 38

Triples: 9

Home runs: 3

Team record: 42-16-4