MacKenzie Smith, a Catcher to Watch

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Young Millis softball captain Mackenzie Smith has proven a great asset to her team.
Issue Date: 
April, 2019
Article Body: 

As far back as she can remember, Millis’ MacKenzie Smith has always suited up behind the plate for her softball teams. The reasoning – ex- Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who played for the local nine form 2010-2013, was a member of the 2013 World Series Championship squad.
“After seeing him play, I thought that the position looked like fun,” the Millis junior said. “Being able to be part of every play was exciting, and I really like the position.”
It was around the seventh grade when she started hearing the whispers that she was something special behind the plate. Although more and more people were talking about her skills, the young catcher refused to believe them until this past year.
Prior to making the high school team Smith play club ball for the Metro West Thunder before moving up to the Bay State Blaze for better opportunities. Although a talented catcher as a freshman Millis already had a catcher and Coach RJ Maturo decided to play Smith at second base that season to get some playing time.
“I had never played the position in my life,” she said. “I was a natural born athlete, but it still took me a chunk of the season before I was actually comfortable with the position.”
The Mohawk coach was not worried in the least.
“She got a lot of playing time that season,” Maturo said. “It definitely was a learning curve for her, but she was a team player with all the tools and very coachable.”
In her first full season behind the plate, the then sophomore showed that she was truly an amazing asset to the team, especially with pitcher Abby Doyle having some shoulder and elbow issues. The young catcher picked up on her problems almost immediately, but the star pitcher wasn’t saying anything, despite having her battery mate continually sacrificing her body to keep balls in front of her.
“As the primary catcher, I noticed something was wrong right away, but she was hesitant to fill me in,” Smith said. “I know my pitchers and knew something was wrong so I continued to nag her until she told me.”
Once Smith knew the reasoning behind her pitcher’s problems the two were able to work on a plan that allowed Doyle to throw the pitches in a way that wouldn’t bother her.
“We just adjusted her throwing techniques,” the Millis catcher said. “She battled through it for the benefit of the team.”
Maturo, once again, knew that he had full faith in his young catcher and wasn’t worried.
“Last year she had a tremendous year behind the plate, especially with our pitcher battling a shoulder injury,” the coach said. “There were a lot of balls in the dirt, and MacKenzie used her defensive ability to keep them in front of her.”
Maturo saw his catcher progress through the first half of the season really well, and eventually teams realized that they could not run on the Millis catcher and stayed put due to her strong and accurate arm.
Entering her second full season as the team’s starting catcher, Maturo and the Millis coaching staff believe the junior captain is primed for a fantastic season.
“We’re expecting big things from her this year,” Maturo said. “Her bat has been coming along, and she should be a big help to our offense this season.”
Smith doesn’t consider herself to be a prolific hitter, but also doesn’t believe that she is bad. While saying her hitting is nothing to brag about, she did have a triple in her very first varsity game. Last year, the sophomore batted .366 with a couple of homeruns.
Coming into this season being named a captain, she knows that she has to become more of a leader despite her reserved nature.
“As the catcher, I should be the most vocal athlete on the field,” Smith said. “Although I’m a rather shy individual, I am feeling more comfortable with my teammates and plan on being more vocal this season.”
In addition to herself overcoming fear, she is hoping that the entire team gives 110% each and every time that they take to the field, even on lazy day practices. If the team does that then she believes that they will once again earn a spot in the Division 3 South Tournament, where she is hoping the team exceeds last year’s appearance. Millis was able to defeat Bourne 13-5 in the first round of the playoffs before falling to West Bridgewater in their second game 3-1.
With still a little more than a year remaining in high school, the Millis junior is hoping that she will be able to continue to play softball in college.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to be part of a softball family in college,” she said. “I’ve been to clinics at Boston University, talked to coaches at Boston College and UMASS Lowell and taken part in camps at Assumption.”
Although she would like to play close to home, having an interest in Marine Biology, she could possibly end up going to school in the south; either way she is hoping to become part of a new softball family somewhere.