The first win of the season for the 2019 Baylor softball team was the 500th career win for Coach Kelli Smith '95. The Raiders celebrated the milestone after beating Riverdale on Tuesday, April 9, the first chance to play at home in 2019 after flooding caused home game cancellations.
The win over Riverdale made the Raiders 17-1 this season and brought Smith's career record to 516-132, a winning percentage of nearly 80%. She has led the Raiders to 10 state championships (2003, 2004, and 2005; 2011, 2012, and 2013; and 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018) in her 17-year tenure which started in 2003. As a player, Smith (then Kelli Howard) was on championship teams in 1993 and 1994, making her a part of all 12 of Baylor's softball state championships and truly the face of the program.
Predictably humble, Smith deflects all the credit to her assistant coaches and players. "This milestone isn’t possible without my two amazing assistant coaches Tom Watson and Susan Harrelson Ross '91, and the incredibly talented young student-athletes that have all contributed along the way to 500," says Smith. "My hope is that the lessons learned on the softball field will carry these young ladies much farther in life than the wins."
"It has been an honor to coach with Kelli in her 500 plus wins," says Watson, who has been Smith's assistant coach for each of the 17 seasons and was a state champion head coach at East Ridge before coming to Baylor. "Not only is Kelli a great coach but, more importantly, she is a role model that so many high school girls need. If you play for her, you will always be one of her girls. These girls will look back in 10 to 20 years and realize how lucky they were to have Kelli Smith in their lives. She is special!"