Michele Smith has arrived in town. If you are a little familiar with softball, you knew it was important. If you were eight years old and wanted to play the game, being coached by the pitcher who won the Olympic gold medal was a chance in your young life.
“I didn’t know anything about pitching, but I asked my dad to go,” Amber May said.
Mike May agreed, they quickly drove from their normal home to the weekend clinic at the Shark Center in Illinois. His daughter fired in one of six rows of ambitious pitchers, and Smith made a round to provide hints and techniques.
Young amber sprayed the ball on all fields. It would be nice if you were a batter …
“I couldn’t put the ball on the plate. I remember the Wesleyan coach telling my dad.’I think she needs to find another position.’” My dad said, “Well. , She’s too stubborn. She won’t do it. ” I continued to work for a while. “
May until she becomes the record ace of the 2007 Class AA State Champion of Normal Community High School, the flagship of the 2008 3rd place national team at Heartland Community College, and the No. 1 Harler for three years at Eastern Illinois University. Did not stop. ..
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She is currently inducted into the Hall of Fame. As you may have learned recently, she will be inducted into the Illinois Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame on October 15.
“I told athletic director Tom Michael that it was humble to be included in the EIU greats who were already inducted into the Hall of Fame,” May said. “I didn’t really know what to say. I was a little emotional. It’s a great honor.”
The ERA in May was 1.98 in the EIU from 2009 to 2011, ranking 4th (57), innings pitched (685), complete game (73), shutout (17) and 4th in school history. Strikeout (582).
She did everything after undergoing major knee surgery, including a tournament that recorded 51 strikeouts in three games by May after NCHS entered the 2007 State Championships.
Her first appearance in Heartland next fall was an inning to eastern Illinois. It attracted the attention of EIU director Kim Schuett.
“She came to Doug Out and offered me a (scholarship), and I accepted the day,” May said. “It was just a perfect fit and it worked really well. Many schools made a kind of retreat after I had that knee surgery. She believed in me and I could take the lead. Being able to do it meant a lot. “
May’s success in Eastern extended beyond softball. She earned an average of 3.4 bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree. She has found homes in Charleston and EIU and is the Deputy Director of Alumni Services.
Her best season in Eastern was the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year as a senior. May was 23-6, with the Panthers overall 40-12, scoring a 26-4 mark in the Ohio Valley.
“We had a little trouble with my third grade,” she said. “It was great to be able to return to the top of my 4th grade to win the big game and host the first ever OVC tournament in Eastern. Our team clicked that year. It’s a group of fun girls and It was a great coach staff. “
In May, I’m still using a windmill on my right arm, which was once wild. She frequently practices batting at her coach staff, Charleston High School, and has a competitive pitch in the Effingham Women’s Fast Pitch League.
On August 1, she moves the rubber toes with her toes at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. There is an annual graduation event with the Cardinals in eastern Illinois, and in May I was asked to throw the first pitch of a 1:15 pm match against the Minnesota Twins.
“Underhand or overhand?” She was asked.
“I haven’t decided yet,” May said. “I will have to practice, I guess.”
No problem. In May, we have a history of working until we understand it correctly.
I’ve heard about the perfect game of baseball and softball. A pitcher who completes a game without allowing a base runner is said to be perfect.
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Randy Kindred is a columnist and retired sports editor at The Pantagraph. Follow Randy Kindred on Twitter: pg_kindred