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Former UT standout Rhodes Smith joins softball staff
Monday, July 15, 2013
Former UT standout Rhodes Smith joins softball staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Lipscomb softball coach Kristin Ryman has announced the addition of pitching coach Megan Rhodes Smith to the staff.

“Megan knows what Lipscomb is all about,” Ryman said. “She believes in that or else she wouldn’t be here.

“We have such a unique atmosphere to recruit to here. So having someone who understands that and understands how to sell the school and our program is really important. She is just a great all-around fit.”

Smith spent the 2013 season with the Western Kentucky softball program, working with pitchers and catchers along with working with players on the mental aspects of the game. She also has been an assistant at Middle Tennessee and Charleston Southern.

She is looking forward to working with returning pitchers Tanner Sanders, Heather Parker and Ashley Anderson as well as incoming freshmen McCarley Thomas and Taylor Neuhart.

“Having pitchers that already understand college is huge,” Smith said. “It is definitely a pitching coach’s dream to have talented girls who are motivated and understand what they have to do to succeed.

“I think we are going to have a really fun staff because we don’t have five cookie-cutter pitchers. We have five very different pitchers and that gives us five tools to work with. It is exciting to have a staff that can bring success and not necessarily have to depend on one person staying healthy.”

Smith, a former standout at David Lipscomb High School, played four seasons for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols. She left the program ranked second all-time in strikeouts (726), third in wins (67) and fourth in innings pitched (570.1). She posted a 67-22 record for a .753 winning percentage and also had a 1.77 earned run average, both rank fourth best all-time. She made 135 appearances including 96 starts.

She helped the Lady Vols make three appearances in the Women’s College World Series.

Ryman likes the fact that Smith brings both a history of recruiting as well as a name that will be well-known to softball players around the country.

“She knows a lot of the local talent, which is good,” Ryman said. “She knows her pitching. She is going to help draw good quality pitchers. She obviously has the ability to help them continue to improve once they are here.”

Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Tennessee. She was an SEC Honor Roll member for three years with a 3.8 grade point average. She earned a master’s degree in sports studies with a concentration in sports psychology from Tennessee in 2009.

“Megan has a great track record for improving pitchers,” Ryman said. “I like Megan’s philosophy. She has a great coaching mentality. I think she is going to quickly gain the respect of our pitchers.

“It is exciting for me that she has a master’s degree in sports psychology. She has a chance to not only impact our pitchers, but also our entire team.”

Also known for her community service Smith received the Brad Davis SEC Community Service Postgraduate Scholarship.

Lipscomb athletic director Philip Hutcheson likes the attributes that Smith brings to the program both on and off of the field.

“Megan is going to be a tremendous asset for our team and I am thrilled to have her on our staff,” Hutcheson said.  “On the field, she has played and coached at the highest level and her past experiences are going to be an immediate help to our team.

“Beyond that, her work on the mental side of the athletic experience, and her understanding of and connection with the mission of our school, are both going to help her be a tremendous mentor and influence for growth among the young women who put on the Lipscomb uniform.”

Her husband, Kevin, is assistant athletic director and assistant football coach at Franklin Road Academy. They have a daughter,  Jillene, who is six weeks old. Megan’s father, Dr. Steve Rhodes, is director of instrumental ensembles at Lipscomb.

“It is an exciting move because it is a little bit like coming home,” Smith said. “I didn’t go to college here, but I feel very at home on this campus. My Dad is here. It is definitely a place my family is a part of. Lipscomb is a special place.

“I have always paid attention to what Lipscomb has done in softball. Ever since coach Ryman has gotten here there has been success on top of success. I am excited about being a part of a softball program that has been as successful as this one.”