Written By: Lalo Mata
Published: April 8, 2020
Chloe Smith, a freshman at Villanova University, quickly played a role in the Wildcats’ success against top nationally ranked teams this year.
With a tough record of 14-13 coming out of the Big East Conference, they were still able to crack the top 100 teams in the last national D1 softball rankings before having their season come to an end.
The utility player from St. Francis had an outstanding high school career coming out of one of the hardest leagues in the area. Delta league supplies teams like Sheldon, Elk Grove, and Cosumnes Oaks that would make noise in any other league in the state, but this goes to show the level of competition Chloe had to face to earn a career .482 batting average. This is a league full of college commits with dominant pitchers all the way down each pitching rotation.
Her play at the plate quickly transferred onto the field at Villanova, even if she only played in under 30 games. Coming out of the gate, she batted .365, second best average of her team behind junior Paige Rauch. To add to the amount of hits she had, she was also able to get the big fly on 5 separate occasions in just 27 games with 15 RBIs on the side.
What impact did you want to have at Villanova this year?
“Even though we came to an unexpected ending this season, I wanted to come in as a freshman and prove that I can have an impact on the team, whether that be cheering on my teammates or helping them on the field. I worked extremely hard to earn a starting position and to prove that I belong out there. This included coming early and staying after practice to get extra reps. My overall goal was to help our program win the Big East championship and make it to regionals. Before the canceling of the season, we upset two top 25 teams: Baylor and Florida State. Being a part of that experience was incredible and being able to contribute to the win was even more exciting as a freshman. I am excited to see where this journey takes me.”
Chloe definitely stepped up and did her part for the Wildcats as she immediately made an impact in the lineup and on the field against top teams like Baylor and Florida State.
What was the recruitment process like?
“The recruiting process was an extremely brutal and heartbreaking process for me. HOWEVER, I persevered and worked even harder and I found my home. The recruiting process, in my opinion, isn’t easy for anyone. There are huge decisions you have to make and several letdowns one will have to go through. A verbal commitment is not a guarantee. So once you commit you have to KEEP working hard if not even harder because your future coaches still have free reign until you sign the NLI. I think it is important to find a place where you feel welcome and you will be pushed to reach your full potential. I know there will be times where young athletes feel like it will never happen to them or they will be told they’re not good enough, but it is important to take that negativity and turn it into a positive. Let the adversity push you to become an even more fierce, strong female athlete!”
What is your long term goal in softball?
“Once I stepped on the little league softball field at 5 years old, I instantly fell in love. I remember my dad used to take me to watch the “big girls play” and I would get so pumped up watching them. Once I got older I realized collegiate softball was my overall goal. So I began putting in the work so that I may one day earn a scholarship, which I did. Even though softball is extremely important, education triumphs. It is so important to put in the same work you put in on the field as you put in to your school work.”
It’s always important to remember that you’re a better D1 player if you have D1 grades to go with it. Stacking up a resume makes all the difference in college sports.
What advice would you give to young softball players looking to play in college?
“Trust the process. There are going to be times where it feels like nothing is going your way and you’ll want to give up but you can’t. Let the disappointments and adversity push you to work even harder. That means hitting an extra bucket off of the tee, getting one more set in, or asking your coach for extra ground balls. Softball is a game of failure, so turn the strikeouts and errors into learning moments rather than negative ones. Don’t ever give up.”
It’s good to note how much this game reflects failure; softball is a game that highlights the people who are the most resilient.
Who helped you improve the most in your career?
“Both of my parents played an instrumental role in helping me become the player that I am. They supported me in all of my decisions and picked me up when I was feeling down. Toni Heisler, my hitting coach, helped develop me into the hitter that I am. She would spend extra time with me hitting off tee, side toss, and machine work so that I’d become a more successful hitter and I am forever grateful for all of the extra time she put into me. Lastly, Coach Kevin Warren played one of the BIGGEST roles in my softball career. He transformed me into the player I am. The countless hours, blood, sweat, and tears he put into my travel team and me, I will always be in debt. He is the best coach I have ever played for. He would stick around with me after practice hitting me ground balls until we both had blisters and throwing me soft toss until it was pitch black at night. If it wasn’t for him, I truly do not know where I would be as a player.”
What’s it like being a big time female athlete? Do you want to be a role model for other female athletes?
“It is extremely stressful, but more importantly it is FUN! When I’ve had a stressful day I can come to the field and let out all of my frustrations and forget about what was going on. I love softball so much. It is a huge part of my life and a huge part of who I am as a person. There is no feeling that will ever top a clutch hit, homerun, or snagging a rocket line drive. Softball keeps me going and fuels me. I think it is important for us athletes to use our platforms to encourage young girls in sports. As a female, we are often reminded that we should “do certain things” or that we aren’t as strong as boys. It is important to instill in their minds that we are capable of anything. Sports allows us to push our limits and fuel our fires as athletes. As a female collegiate athlete, it is important to empower all women and help them realize they are able to do anything they put their minds to. It is a way to prove all of those negative people wrong and to prove to ourselves that we are just as strong and fierce.”
Chloe Smith is an athlete that the whole softball community should follow along with the entirety of the 916. She is an inspiration to girls with big dreams and a role model for people who admire hard work. Chloe is a person not just the female athlete community should follow, but all of sports because of the success she has from her work ethic and motivation. We look forward to the impact she looks to make next season in the Big East conference as a proven piece to the Wildcats lineup.