Sumiton Christian’s Shelbi Smith was looking for a place to play at the next level.
In other words, it was the perfect fit.
Smith signed a letter-of-intent with the Tuscaloosa junior college last week. Smith was originally set to play at Jeff State before the school decided to shut down its softball program.
Boyle was excited to pick up Smith’s services.
“The No. 1 thing is her attitude. She’s a hard-core player who loves the game,” Boyle said. “The second thing is her versatility. She can play third, pitch and she’s a really good outfielder. A kid who you can plug into two or three spots in the lineup is unique.
“She’s strong and she’s athletic. I like every aspect of her game.”
Smith has played third base this season for the top-ranked Lady Eagles.
“She’s been really consistent,” Sumiton Christian coach Jessica Aderholt said. “She came right in and picked up with the team. Last year she pitched, played the outfield and played a little at third. She works hard on the field. I think she’ll do well there.”
Smith was one of Sumiton Christian’s top players at last week’s North-Central Regional Tournament at Liberty Park in Vestavia Hills.
She was 2-for-3 with four RBIs in the Lady Eagles’ 14-0 rout of Ranburne in the regional championship game. She was 7-for-11 (.636) and had 10 RBIs in four games at the event. For the season, she is hitting .315 with 38 RBIs.
Sumiton Christian opens play in the state tournament in Montgomery on Thursday.
Boyle became familiar with Smith — who transferred to Sumiton Christian from Fultondale along with teammate Cadi Oliver before last season — two years ago while watching her travel team. He’s seen more and more of Smith over the last two years.
“The good thing about a school like Sumiton Christian is the more you win, the more your girls get seen. Coach Aderholt was really good about getting the kids’ names out there,” Boyle said.
Smith felt Shelton State was the right place for her.
“First of all, I was supposed to go to Jeff State. After their program closed, Shelton seemed to reach out to me. They have a great program,” Smith said. “The coach seemed very nice and honest. He didn’t promise me anything. He said if I work hard, I will earn my spot.”
Smith had high praise for Aderholt.
“If it wasn’t for Sumiton Christian, I wouldn’t have a scholarship. Coach Aderholt is a great coach. Both her and Kara (Cashatt) have worked with me and made me a better player,” Smith added.