Mt. Pleasant’s Mary Smithnosky writes fairy-tale ending to pitching career

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Monday, June 21, 2021 | 2:59 PM


A future college outfielder, Mary Smithnosky had to reaffirm to herself that she was a pitcher in her final high school softball season.

The position in the circle had to be more than a facade to the senior from Mt. Pleasant, more than a column on the roster.

If Smithnosky was going to help Mt. Pleasant win WPIAL and PIAA championships, she would have to deliver one last time before she leaves to become a full-time outfielder at Western Michigan.

She did. Time and again.

“It’s my curtain call season,” the senior right-hander said. “At the beginning of the postseason, that’s when I buckled down and took hold of the reins.”

Smithnosky went 16-1 in her final prep season, leading the Vikings (21-3) to district and PIAA gold as a leader of one of the most potent teams in the state. She took a 38-inning scoreless innings streak into the state final and shut out six of seven postseason opponents.

She had a 2.29 ERA and struck out 117 against only 26 walks. She surrendered 19 hits in the playoffs and threw a pair of one-hitters.

An admitted overanalyzer, Smithnosky said a different mental approach sent her on her way in the postseason.

“I have a tendency to overthink things, and it usually keeps me from reaching my highest potential,” she said. “Entering this postseason, I turned off the thinking switch and just played freely.

“There was a time when I would literally yell at myself out loud. I have tried to be (more subtle). I tell myself all the time, ‘You’re the best in the world, and nobody can beat you.’ Lately, I’ve been saying, ‘We’re the best in the world, and nobody can beat us.’”

Coach Chris Brunson said Smithnosky recharging herself in the circle is what changed the face of the playoffs.

“I knew we’d be pretty good at two or three aspects,” he said. “But Mary recommitting herself to pitching is what really moved the train down the tracks.”

Smithnosky also proved effective as the Vikings’ No. 3 hitter in a stacked order, batting .449 with four home runs and 29 RBIs.

She might leave the pitching circle when she becomes a Western Michigan Bronco, but she’ll be sure to bring her bat.

Her swan song will go down as a 5-3 win over Mid Valley in the PIAA final — with a double bonus?

“I just wanted to pitch my best for my team,” Smithnosky said of her last game. “And my last few pitches for the rest of my life … cross my fingers.

“We won a state championship. … I’m going to Disney World.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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