Canada Senior Men Softball

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Mark Smith, the Canadian who chilled Southern California batters

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010


Mark Smith, Head Coach, Canada Senior Women’s National Team

“He was wild back then and very intimidating. I got hit by him a couple of times. He had that old pitchers mentality, ‘if you dig in against me, you’re fair game.’” -Greg Sepulveda, ISC Hall of Fame, 2006

By BOB OTTO / Yucaipa, CA
(first written on Oct. 24, 1999)
www.ottoinfocus.com
botto3@verison.net.

NOVA SCOTIA, CA – He blew into Southern California from Canada like a bone-chilling, north wind. He had powerful biting pitches and the God-given speed that only the truly great fastpitch softball pitchers possess.

Much like Nolan Ryan, when Mark Smith was “on” no one touched him. Including the great hitters of Southern California and the Western Softball Congress.

Along with his blazing speed was a touch of youthful wildness. Wildness that froze hitters in the box. Wildness from a 80-plus mph under-the-chin rise ball that made batters creep back to the outer reaches of the batters box – for safety’s sake.

There were two possibilities when facing Smith: It was damn near impossible to hit him, but quite possible to get hit by him. Hitters feared the possible and came to accept and respect the near impossible.

When Smith arrived in California to pitch for the Camarillo Kings in 1981 no one expected the sudden transfer of power that was about to take place in the Western Softball Congress. Sure the Kings looked good on paper. Sure they had signed this 21-year-old fire-baller from Canada.

But California had great pitchers up and down the west coast. This after all was the WSC, one of North America’s most powerful men’s fastpitch softball leagues.

The Kings appeared to be competitive, but the establishment – the Long Beach Nitehawks, Lakewood Jets, Lancaster Chameleons, and Vista Bombers – were still expected to rule. That is until Smith arrived.

Smith was tough. Downright menacing. Built more along the lines of a linebacker at six-foot and 225 pounds, he was an intimidating presence say some of the WSC’s top hitters.

“You couldn’t dig in against him,” said Greg Sepulveda, who played shortstop for the Lakewood Jets and Lancaster Chameleons. “He was wild back then and very intimidating. I got hit by him a couple of times. He had that old pitchers mentality, ‘if you dig in against me, you’re fair game.’”

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