They were already making a mark on the softball field, but then came spring break followed up by a disruption no one ever expected, a worldwide pandemic.
The Destin Middle School Marlin softball team, with eighth grader Ava Smith in the pitcher’s circle, were sitting at 4-1 at the break. And now the Marlins, like so many others, might not get the chance to see the final outcome of what could have been a successful season.
“We could have definitely made it to play-offs,” Smith said.
Smith has already been a part of two successful teams this season as a Marlin.
The girls basketball team, of which she was a co-captain, finished as Okaloosa County Champions for the first-time ever after a 49-28 win over Davidson. As for volleyball, the Lady Marlins, for the first time since 2008, won the county championship.
As it stands right now, the chances of earning another county title are not looking good. With students doing school from home, at least through the end of April due to the coronavirus, the ball seasons are going to be shortened, if played at all.
Here’s a question and answer The Log did with Smith to give you a little insight into the athlete and what she’s been up too in recent weeks while social distancing.
What sports have you lettered in at Destin Middle?
Out of my four years attending Destin Middle School, I have lettered in volleyball, basketball, softball, and flag football
Which sport is your favorite and why?
My favorite sport is softball. Even now, every time I step onto the softball field, I get this fiery feeling in my stomach, like butterflies. And I don't get that feeling so much when I'm playing a different sport. I just love every part of the game. Whether I'm up 10 or down 10. There aren't enough words to describe my love for the game.
Who are you social distancing with? Has this strengthened the family bond?
I have been social distancing with my mom (Jennifer Smith), my dad (Mike Smith), my brother (Logan Smith), and my dog (Molly).These couple of weeks have definitely strengthened our family bond.
What do you miss most about being at school?
What I miss mostly about school is being able to see my friends every day. It's been pretty hard not being able to see them in person every day.
What’s your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject in school is science, more specifically, biology.
If you could look into a crystal ball and could see the future, what do you see the softball team accomplishing this season if they get to finish it?
If I could look into a crystal ball and see the future, I would see the softball team accomplishing a lot throughout the season. We could have definitely made it to play-offs, if we did end up finishing the season.
Did you have any personal goals for the softball season? If so what would they be?
I did have personal goals this year for softball. My pitching goal was to get at least one more strike-out than the game before. My hitting goal was to hit the ball where it was pitched as best as I could. Pulling the inside pitch down the third base line, or driving the outside pitch to right field. Or if the pitcher made a mistake and put the pitch down the middle, to hit it right back up the middle. I also wanted to make an impact on the girls this year, not as the big, scary, fast pitcher but as the best teammate in the world. And as an even better friend. I really hope I accomplished that last one.
Out of all the postponements and cancellations between pro and college, what sport do you miss the most and why?
Softball. Every time I watch college softball it inspires me to work harder if I wanted to play at that level.
What does a world without sports look like to you?
A world without sports is a world without happiness in my opinion. I mean how excited and happy does everyone get during the Super Bowl? Sports brings people together, and lets you as an athlete show the whole world what you can do.
How are you staying active?
How I stay active is almost everyday working on something. Pitching wise, working on speed, hitting locations consistently, and movement. Hitting wise, hitting off the tee, and hitting different locations (high, low, inside, outside). Activity wise, leg, core, and upper body workouts. Going on a walk or a run, going on a bike ride or swimming in my pool.
Have you seen any good movies? Or played any great video games?
I don't play video games (that's my brothers forte). I'm a big Disney fan so I would have to say, the live action “Lion King.”
How are you staying busy?
I'm staying busy with school work, preparing for high school, and staying active.
What’s your favorite go-to snack?
Animal Crackers all the way!
What kind of advice would you give your fellow teammates during this pandemic?
I would say I know it's a hard time right now, but as athletes and players, we need to take this opportunity to become better softball players. This sport/game requires work, and trust me it's hard.
"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great." - A League of Their Own. And I know each and everyone of those girls are capable of becoming that college athlete that everyone watches on TV. But it takes work. No one is going to hand it to you. I love each and every one of those girls, and I'm going to miss them so much. I hope i made an impact on all of them. And that I did a good job leading, working, and playing with them.