LaGrange’s Smith headed to West Georgia
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
For LaGrange High softball standout Camden Smith, there was an undeniable comfort level when she visited the University of West Georgia campus and spent time with the coaches.
Smith is one of the state’s top pitchers, so she had plenty of options when it came time to choose a college home, but there was no doubt West Georgia was the place for her.
Smith committed to West Georgia earlier this year, and she made it official during a signing-day celebration last week.
“I walked in, and I loved it, every bit of it,” Smith said of West Georgia. “Coach Al (Thomas) is great. It’ll be a blast to be there with him and all the girls. It’s exciting.”
West Georgia is getting a player who has been performing at an elite level since the first game of her freshman season when she threw a one-hitter in a win over Callaway.
Smith was on the mound for every key game over the past four years, and she almost always gave her team a chance to win.
Smith capped her high-school career with an exceptional senior season, going 20-11 with a 1.72 earned run average, and she helped LaGrange win a region title and advance to the semifinals of the state playoffs.
“You see her on the mound, and she has a presence,” said LaGrange head coach Gabby Heath. “Just watching her grow and develop and become a great pitcher on the mound, a great leader in our program, it’s been a blessing for all of us.”
Smith was also an important member of the lineup, and she finished her high-school career with a batting average of better than .300.
“She’s been a huge asset for offense and defense for us the past four years,” Heath said.
It’s been an enjoyable ride for Smith, who was part of a group of six seniors who were critical members of the team for four seasons.
“It’s been amazing,” Smith said. “We’re going to be friends for a while. These bonds are unbreakable.”
Two of Smith’s fellow seniors, Abby Vanhoose (LaGrange College) and Madison Dennis (Georgia Highlands College), will also play college softball.
“I’m so excited that they get to keep playing,” Smith said. “I’m super-proud of them, too.”
Playing close to home will allow Smith’s family members to continue to watch her play, just as they’ve been doing for years.
With Smith last week were her parents Tim Smith and Stacye Smith, as well as her grand-mother, Patsy Manning.
One of Smith’s number one supporters over the years was her grand-father Jerry, who died in 2018, and she was thinking about him last week.
“It means a lot to have (my family) here,” Smith said. “I always thought my grand-daddy would be here, too. That’s kind of emotional.”
Heath, who has been happy to pencil Smith in as the starting pitcher for nearly every game the past four seasons, feels West Georgia is “a great place for her. I think she’s going to flourish there, and it’s always close to home, so we’re real thankful that we’ll get to go watch her.”
Smith, Heath added, is “a great person. It’s been a blessing to have her here for the past four years.”