Andi Smith gets ready to sign her contract with San Diego State to play softball for the Aztecs. She will leave in August to begin college. She is currently a senior at Emery High. Grandparents Anne and Michael Sitterud share the experience.
Andi Smith of Orangeville started pitching at age 9. All of her practice and hard work has paid off as she signed with the San Diego State Aztecs.
Her grandpa Michael Sitterud had the idea that Andi would make a great pitcher and they started practicing together in the back yard. She began playing recreation softball at the age of 10 and did that until she was 13. She played for the Orangeville team and for Carbon. When she was 13 she pitched for the 18 and under league. The team won the championship that year.
Andi began to take the game a little more serious at this time. She knew she wanted to play more and she joined a traveling team from Price and they played several tournaments up north. "That was really fun, I enjoyed being on the traveling team. I started playing with the team I am on now when I was 14 before that I would play pick-up when anyone needed an extra player to attend a tournament, I would go with them.
"I was invited to play with the Spanish Fork team, the Utah Valley Express. The coaches are more serious with the travel ball. Playing in this league helped me gain more experience and the competition levels were greater. Recently I have played with the traveling team the Salt Lake City Pegasus team. Their coach also coaches the Salt Lake Community College team. It is an intense team and their goal was to attend out of state tournaments.
"We were able to go to the Nationals in Tennessee and that was a great experience. There were 172 teams in that tournament. It's the biggest 16 and under tournament. I was 16 at the time and there were only two Utah teams there. We did well there and placed 7th out of 172 teams. I went to the on deck softball program where college coaches come and get a look at the younger players. We also submit video of ourselves playing. We send a resume and skills video and from these you are invited to attend a camp where there are many scrimmages.
"I was excited to attend this camp. It was held in Stockton, Calif. It went well. That's where the San Diego coaches saw me and one of the coaches had watched my games. When we returned home and I checked my email, she had offered me a scholarship. It was a full ride. We were invited to visit the campus and take a tour. We went to the softball stadium and it's really a nice place. They have a beautiful softball field.
"I will move down there in August 2013. I will play fall ball with them and the college season starts in February.
"Currently I am on a weight and exercise program. My grandfather has me on a specialized training course from the internet and my coach also sends me workouts specifically to improve my pitching," said Andi.
Grandpa Sitterud said, "Andi will be one of the top college freshman when she enters San Diego. This summer between her junior and senior year her speed reached 68 mph and I think by next spring she will be pitching 70 mph. Andi is now a senior at Emery High. There are only one or two high school seniors in the entire country pitching at that speed. I think she's exceptional and will be pitching at an upper level. Even in college ball, out of all the schools in the country there are only a dozen with pitchers with speeds 70 mph."
Andi talked about her ball control which she feels is pretty good now. "My favorite pitch is the rise ball. My grandpa sits on a bucket and I pitch to him. Grandpa is a good coach and he's been my motivation. I love the game. In San Diego, I won't hit the ball, just pitch. They don't let their pitchers hit or run, they don't want them to get injured. I have a good strike out record."
Andi is averaging two strikeouts per inning.
Grandma Anne Sitterud is also very proud about Andi and her pitching. "One time when Andi pitched against the team made up of Salt Lake Community College girls, as a 16 year old she shut out their college age girls in four innings."
Andi said, "I am very excited to go to college and play softball. I played volleyball for a time too and basketball. I also love horses, but right now I am concentrating on softball. I played with the Utah Crush this summer to stay in practice. I have made some really good friends on the softball teams. It's nice to be around people who respect the game of softball and the competition."
Grandma Sitterud said, "Andi has been playing on some higher level teams that are very competitive many of the teams are made up of college level girls who play travel ball in the off season to stay in practice. The top pitchers at the 2A state tournament were throwing 53 mph. Andi is at 68 now and the teams she's been on are more competitive and we feel it's better practice for her. We are retired now, and our goal is to make it to at least one of Andi's college games each month. We want to travel to some of the tournaments too. She will have a tournament in Palm Springs and also games in Hawaii. San Diego is in the Big West conference and they play other big schools from California."
As a college student Andi will be attending classes where she hopes to major in journalism. She would like to write for a newspaper or magazine some day.
"We will be practicing a lot. Twice a day for four hours. We start in the gym in the mornings and then go to class and then back to the field at 4 p.m. for practice. We have classes four days a week and then travel for games Friday, Saturday and Sundays.
"The games start in February and we will play 50 games a year," said Andi.
Grandpa Sitterud said there are many advantages to gaining the experience of playing at a college level. They learn team work and are able to travel and gain confidence that will help them in the business world. "I have many friends with children who played at the college level who now work for big companies, using the skills they gained in college and on the field. The experience and discipline as well as communications skills they learn will help them as they enter the work force."
They are also excited about the coaches at San Diego State. Kathy Van Wyk knows the game and knows pitching. Andi will be working with quality coaching.
Grandma gives much of the credit for Andi's success to Grandpa. "We knew Andi was good and with a softball scholarship she can pitch and get her education. When she was with the traveling teams, she always compared with or surpassed the competition. Her grandpa is really the mastermind. He has coached her, bought DVDs and videos and he's done a lot of research. When she was in the 10th grade he would take her to pitching lessons in Salt Lake and she would do her homework in the car. They have both put in a lot of dedication and time. Andi has practiced a lot. She is a natural with a lot of hard work and it really did pay off."
Andi also hopes some day to try out for the Olympic team. Grandpa has a softball backstop in the backyard and has converted the garage so she can pitch throughout the winter, it's insulated and heated. Andi works out three days each week and throws 150 pitches which is a good practice session.
Research shows after you have thrown 10,000 pitches you learn to control the pitch.
Grandpa works hard to guard Andi against injuries. Her grandparents are very supportive. Grandpa Sitterud said, "I worked for the Oakland police department, but wanted to come back here to retire. We are excited San Diego chose Andi to come and pitch for them. Out of the literally thousands of pitchers in California, They have chosen Andi."
Andi said, "My friends at school are really excited for me to go and play college ball. Not that many Utah softball players play outside the state. An advantage those California teams have, is they play all year. I am looking forward to the mild temperatures in California. They say it's about 70 degrees all year long in San Diego. I committed to San Diego last September, it was a verbal commitment. I am signing the contract for a one year commitment. That's how they do it. The contracts run for one year. Our goal as a team will be to attend the women's college world series. My team will be the San Diego Aztecs. I was born in California, so it will be fun to go back."