KEYSER - Aubrey Smith has made the most out of every second of her four years at Keyser High School. Be it in the classroom, out in the community, on the court or softball field, the talented 2019 KHS grad has most certainly left her mark of distinction in everything she's done.
By Chapin Jewell
KEYSER - Aubrey Smith has made the most out of every second of her four years at Keyser High School. Be it in the classroom, out in the community, on the court or softball field, the talented 2019 KHS grad has most certainly left her mark of distinction in everything she’s done.
Smith, however, is just getting started, with new opportunities ahead to excel in the classroom and on the field at the collegiate level.
Back in September, Smith signed to continue her academic and softball playing careers nearby at Potomac State College. With her positive record of accomplishments, in the classroom and on the field, Smith had a multitude of options before her. For her, however, there was never any doubt where she wanted to continue her education and playing careers.
“I didn’t have a hard time choosing where I wanted to go to college. Ever since I started playing softball, it’s been my dream to play at Potomac State. I am very excited to play with some of my former teammates from Keyser there as well. I know that they have a very successful program and I am beyond excited to be a part of such a great team,” Smith explained.
While Smith enjoyed a four-year basketball career at Keyser High, her passion in sports revolves mainly around softball. Though Smith entered the Lady Tornado softball program as a self-described “shy and timid” freshman “not knowing what to expect,” she made an immediate impact on the program. That shy and timid freshman proved herself over a four-year career highlighted with scads of accolades and honors, but more importantly, in the leadership role she played as team captain and ace pitcher.
As Smith explains, “From freshman year to senior year, I have changed and grew so much. I was shy and timid my freshman year, not knowing what to expect. My teammates quickly got me out of my shell. I played third base most of my freshman year. Then, by my sophomore year, I pitched almost every game. From freshman year to senior year, I learned two new pitches and gained speed on my fastball. I went from being shy and timid to a senior leader.”
Keyser head coach Craig Rotruck remembers Aubrey Smith’s entrance into the KHS softball program. “Well as a freshman my staff and I were well aware of how good a softball player Aubrey was from coaching her in youth league and middle school. We only had 12 players Aubrey's freshman year and four of them were freshmen. So, the expectation was that Aubrey would step in and play somewhere from day one,” Rotruck explained.
According to Rotruck, “We weren't very talented (16-14) Aubrey's freshman year so we were really hoping she would claim the number one pitcher's spot to enable us to play Madi Anderson (currently at Potomac State) in the infield with Katlynn Tichnell (formerly at Potomac State) who was an All-AMAC shortstop. As a pitcher she struggled with her control, but you could see once she harnessed her command she was going to be a big time pitcher.”
Smith may have experienced a few growing pains as a pitcher her freshman year, but with her overall talent, she contributed big time in other ways. Coach Rotruck recounts, “Aubrey would play third base but actually ended the year in left field making a nice sliding catch for the final out sealing the sectional championship versus Frankfort. I know she didn't like playing the outfield, but we needed someone who could make a play out there and she came through. We batted her down in the lineup that year and she ended up hitting .323 and was 3rd on team with 23 RBI’s.”
Though Smith made quite a splash in her freshman campaign, her biggest impact was yet to come, at the plate, but more particularly as the ace pitcher. In the circle, Smith steadily improved, becoming Keyser’s number one pitcher her sophomore season, a role she would not relinquish until her recent graduation.
Smith won 44 games over her career as a hurler for the Golden Tornado. In addition, she was named a second team All-State pitcher her junior year and honorable mention All-State this year. That’s not all; from the plate, Smith had over 100 hits and hit .468 with 27 RBI’s this season. Coach Rotruck points out, “she continues to develop as both a hitter and pitcher.”
“My biggest accomplishments as a pitcher has been being named All-State, All-AMAC, All-Area, & All-PVC throughout my high school career,” Smith stated.
While those accolades have rolled in and are well deserved, Smith’s role as a leader and team captain have made those around her better, improving team play and for this season leading the Tornado to an impressive season in which they won two-thirds of their games against a schedule full of juggernauts.
The records, the wins, the individual, even team awards are great. More importantly, however, is the bond and friendships Smith has built with her teammates, to include a host of great memories. “I have made many special memories with my teammates, but my favorite ones involve the yearly Myrtle Beach trips. I absolutely loved spending an entire week with all of my best friends,” Smith explains.
For the Smith’s and their extended family, that annual Myrtle Beach softball tournament trip became a family affair. “My entire family even traveled to Myrtle Beach to watch me play. I had 15-20 family members there to cheer me on each year. My Aunt and Uncle even flew from Las Vegas to Myrtle Beach to watch me play.”
This explains why Smith points to her family as strongly supportive and encouraging throughout her journey. “I have been absolutely blessed with an incredible support system. My mom and dad have been the biggest supporters; they have sacrificed many Mother’s Days, Father’s Days, birthdays, and many more occasions for my games, never missing one. My dad spent countless hours working with me on my pitching, hitting and fielding. Along with my parents, my grandparents, sister, uncles, aunts, cousins, boyfriend, and many friends that have been nothing but an amazing support system for me,” Smith explains.
In addition to family and friends however, Smith recognizes the role the Keyser coaching staff has played into helping mold her into the person and player she is today, ready to tackle her chosen sport at the collegiate level. According to Smith, “None of this would be possible if it weren’t for some of the most remarkable coaches ever- Craig Rotruck, Chris Shoemaker, Ritchie Thompson, and Colton Jones. They have taught me to be patient, humble, & most importantly, a leader. Keyser softball has definitely pushed me to be the best player that I could possibly be.”
But, there’s one more special person to thank, someone Aubrey Smith says she could never thank enough, DJ Anderson. According to Smith, “DJ has always believed in me and encouraged me. He is the most patient and positive influence in my high school softball career. He would work with me in the off-season, after games, and even late nights after a long day at work just to improve my pitching. He always made it clear that he was just a text or call away whenever I was feeling discouraged. His belief in me made me believe in myself.”
Aubrey Smith is much more than a softball player. In addition to basketball and a host of other activities, Smith has excelled in the classroom, both at Keyser High and at the Mineral County Technical Center where she studied Health Sciences.
While at the Technical Center, Smith completed the CNA program and was inspired by her teachers. “Out of all the amazing teachers I have had, there is one that stands out from all of the others. Mrs. Owens was not only an amazing teacher but she was also someone I could talk to about anything. She taught me so much about the medical field,” Smith explained.
Smith will continue her studies in the medical field at Potomac State and will pursue a career in Occupational Therapy. For her success in her studies and contributions to her community, Aubrey Smith was also named the 2019 recipient of the Katharine Church Award.
“Potomac State is getting a very good softball player, an extremely hard worker and an intelligent young lady. Every coach wants to coach players like an Aubrey Smith on their team. She works hard, she leads by example.” These words come from Coach Craig Rotruck, and there are none better in describing this young talent eager to take things to the next level.
Big things behind, even bigger things ahead. Lucky for us, we won’t need to leave Mineral County to track her progress.