Your Prep Sports
NORTH LIBERTY – During the offseason Liberty High junior Haileigh Smith did all the things that would lead to an offensive breakthrough.
Smith worked extensively on hitting, focused on her approach at the plate and added some extra time in the weight room.
That combination explains the impressive numbers Smith has put up this season.
“In the offseason I really worked hard and I just really worked on hitting a lot,” Smith said. “We started lifting so just working on strength and working on hitting.”
What Smith can’t exactly account for is her power surge.
After posting just four extra-base hits in 60 at bats last season often as a leadoff hitter, Smith has emerged as a legit middle of the order thumper for Class 5A No. 10 Liberty High.
Smith ranks seventh in the state with seven home runs in 20 games this season helps Liberty High to a 17-3 start.
“I can’t really explain the home runs, I’m just more confident and relaxed in the box,” Smith said. “I think as a whole team is more relaxed and having fun.”
Smith got her first look at varsity competition last season hitting .233 with four doubles and seven RBIs while spending time atop the Lightning batting order.
After an offseason of work a more relaxed, more comfortable Smith has exploded in her role as a run producer for the Lightning.
Smith is hitting .412 with 13 extra-base hits including seven home runs in 68 at bats this season.
“She is having a fantastic year. She has had some success and it’s really easy to be comfortable when you are successful,” Liberty High coach Mike Morrison said. “Haileigh is seeing the ball well, she is comfortable in the box and I think she knows we have a lot of confidence in her.”
After hitting leadoff last season Smith has provided pop in the middle of a loaded Lightning lineup that ranks third in 5A with 18 home runs.
Smith leads Liberty High with 34 RBI and also has the top slugging percentage (.809) and OPS (1.261) on the team.
“I’m just trying to hit the ball hard,” Smith said. “I look for pitched in my zone and I’m going up there thinking if it’s a good pitch I am going to hit it as hard as I can and it goes where it is going to go and if they make a good play on it, they make a good play.”
The emergence of Smith ssippi Valley Conference play and just one game back of Mississippi Division leading Linn-Mar in the loss column.
Smith ranks third on the team with 22 runs and has only struck out three times in 74 plate appearances.
“She has a really short compact swing and if you come into her zone she is more than likely going to punish you,” Morrison said. “I couldn’t be happier with where she is at.”