Varsity Softball

Carroll whips through state quarterfinal thanks to ‘fastest pitcher in Kansas’

Reagan Smith needed about 75 minutes to push Bishop Carroll to the state semifinals.

The Golden Eagles cruised through Emporia with a 5-0 quarterfinal victory in the Class 5A state softball tournament. Smith didn’t give the Spartans a chance to catch their breath.

Smith is one of the quickest-moving pitchers in the state. She throws a pitch, gets it back from the catcher, turns and walks briskly halfway between the circle and second base. She turns, slaps the ball into her glove, walks back to the rubber and throws again.

She doesn’t get a call from coach Steve Harshberger, and she rarely throws anything other than her patented fastball. She wastes no time and lived up to that expectation on Thursday.

“Tempo-wise, yeah, I’m probably the fastest pitcher in Kansas,” Smith said. “It’s just adrenaline.”

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Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Smith said she was trained to move quickly through her pitches. It fits her, and she embraces it. The ball slap is her way of calming down and maintaining her tempo, but outside of that, it’s only onward.

The pace can get Smith in trouble from time to time, she said. She can work too quickly and get ahead of herself, so she has a reminder on the back of her palm that basically says, “Slow down.”

“After every out, we will talk with each other on the field about how many outs are left,” Carroll sophomore Bryant Peppard said. “By the time I’m done with everybody and trying to rejuvenate, she’s already throwing the next pitch.”

Smith was an All-Metro selection as a sophomore last year. She was the youngest player named to the Eagle’s team, but she earned it. On top of her unique pace, she also throws one of the fastest pitches in Kansas. Last year, she finished with a 10-1 record and a .813 ERA with 66 strikeouts and six walks all season.

2019 is her third state tournament and the seniors’ fourth. So after the Eagles clinched the win with a Smith strikeout, they ran to the dugout as if it were the middle of an inning, not the end of a state quarterfinal.

“Reagan is on a mission when she’s out there, she’s focused,” Harshberger said. “We’re not here for this one.”

Carroll will face the winner of Goddard and City League rival Wichita Northwest in the state semifinals. Last year, Carroll lost 11-1 to Shawnee Heights in the state championship game and will be the favorite to get back there again regardless of which opponent it faces in the semifinals.

Earlier this year, Carroll beat Northwest 6-0 twice on the same night, and Goddard hasn’t reached the semifinals round since 2013.

Senior Kaylin Watkins will throw the semifinal, likely leaving Smith fresh for a potential state championship game. She said she wants another crack at it.

“We wanted to win this game of course, but our goal is the championship,” Smith said. “We want to get there, and then we will celebrate.”

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Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle
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Wichita Eagle preps reporter Hayden Barber brings the area updates on all high school sports while adding those hard-to-find human-interest stories on Wichita’s student-athletes.
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