Coach Kelli Smith ’95 and her Lady Red Raiders softball team defeated Riverdale High School on April 9, making the win the 500th in Smith’s career since she began coaching the team in 2003.
In total, Coach Smith has 12 state championship rings. Winning two for Baylor as a player in 1993 and 1994, she has gone on to do more for the sport and the school after her playing career ended. Since she began in 2003, the Lady Raiders have clinched 10 state championship titles (2003, 2004, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018), making her a part of every softball state championship in Baylor history with a near 80 percent winning percentage and one of the most decorated coaching tenures on campus. Coaches Tom Watson and Susan Ross ’91 have also contributed greatly to the Baylor softball program. Watson has been Smith’s assistant coach since 2003 and has 10 state championships of his own.
When I asked Coach Smith about her illustrious career, she had a humble answer. “It’s a great milestone that I’m proud of, but it’s not me. Kelli Smith didn’t win 500 games. A great coaching staff and great players along the way have made those 500 wins possible.”
Smith also has a unique approach to the game. Not only does she care about the success of the program, but she also cares about the success of the players both in the sport and as people. Her love of the sport is reflected through the way she treats her players and the lasting connections she creates with them. “What softball means to me now is different than it was 25 years ago," she says. "Softball gives me the opportunity to mentor young women and help them through adversity. Softball is an outlet for me to make a positive impact on these girls.”