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Allison Smiley recently wrapped up a very good four-year career for the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville softball team.

As a senior, Smiley led the squad with a .351 batting average and 42 RBIs. She was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference second team as well as the OVC All-Tournament team.

This was Smiley’s best hitting season during her collegiate career. She led the Cougars with a .315 average as a freshman in 2014.

“I switched some things up with my swing, just to try something else,” Smiley said. “I opened my swing up a little bit to get my hands and hips through. It worked pretty well.”

A recent graduate with a degree in Speech and Pathology, Smiley, a former Johnston City High School standout, also had to come to terms with the fact that her softball career was coming to an end back in May.

“It’s definitely sad, and I’m going to miss the game a lot,” Smiley said. “But, hopefully, in a couple of years or even sooner, I’ll get a coaching job. That’s what I kind of want to do, whether it be junior high or high school or just helping out when I can. I just want to give back to the sport that’s given me a lot.”

SIU-E finished the 2017 season with a record of 41-13 and advanced to the OVC Tournament title game for the fourth season in a row.

“Every game, the senior class played like it was our last game because we knew the end was coming,” Smiley said. “We just tried to enjoy every single moment of it and it went faster than any of us would want. But it was a good year.”

During her four years with the program, Smiley racked up plenty of accolades. She was named to the All-Mideast Region’s second team as a senior and to the OVC All-Tournament team three times.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting any of that,” Smiley said. “I just hoped to make a positive difference for the program as well as do a good job myself. I think I did both of those. I was a captain my last three years and loved every minute of that.”

As the team’s starting second baseman, Smiley committed just one error during her senior campaign. She also struck out just four times in 151 at-bats.

“I absolutely took a lot of pride in it,” Smiley said. “Last year, I struggled a little bit on defense, and I’d never done that in my entire life. No matter what I was doing on offense, I always tried to be there on defense. You can always pick the team up when you’re playing good defense.”

The demands of playing Division I college athletics and balancing a full school schedule can be difficult for some to deal with. It all worked out well for Smiley, who is set to attend graduate school at Southeast Missouri State University.

“It is very tough,” Smiley said. “And it’s not for everyone, but I think a lot of people don’t find their perfect fit. For me, I came in and the second baseman had just graduated, and so I had a spot to earn. I had a lot of family support. I just got married this past weekend. The support that I had from family and the relationships I had with the coaches really helped me.”

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scott.mees@thesouthern.com

On Twitter: @SIPrepSports

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