We’ve followed the career of Abbey Smith, a talented outfielder from Austin, Texas, for several years. Last year, she was an Extra Inning Softball 1st Team High School All-American after she batted .630 and went 25-for-25 in steals for James Bowie High and last week she made the 2021 Extra Elite 100 list.
You can also read more about her in a profile we did on her last summer highlighting all her softball and track accomplishments.
However, it’s not been an easy road the six months for Abbey, an Auburn commit since 2017, who had a shoulder injury that ultimately resulted in her needing surgery last June.
Here’s how she persevered through the process of healing and showing how badly she wanted to play for the Auburn Tigers….
Abbey Smith's first shoulder injury occurred in September of 2018, which caused her to miss her Fall 2018 club season with the Hotshots Premier 18U club team out of Texas.
After nearly two months of physical therapy, Abbey returned last spring to play for James Bowie High School and lead the team to a Texas UIL playoff appearance.
She earned District 25-6A All District Honors and was named the District's Offensive Player of the Year. In addition, she also earned 1st Team Honors on the All Central Texas team and the Texas Girls Coaches Association All-State Team as well as a 1st Team High School All-American Outfielder by Extra Inning Softball.
Unfortunately, however, at her first Hotshots practice of the summer season, Abbey aggravated the same shoulder diving for a sinking line drive. Her orthopedic doctor suggested that Abbey should undergo surgery to repair the damage. Ultimately, she had surgery in June 2019 to repair what was a slightly torn labrum in her non-throwing shoulder.
The athlete and her family texted Auburn Head Coach Mickey Dean to make him aware of the injury and Abbey and her father, Mike Smith, traveled to the Auburn Softball Camp only two weeks after her surgery to talk to Coach Dean and assure him that she would have a full recovery.
“We wanted to talk to Coach Dean face-to-face,” Abbey explains, “and let him know that I was going to work hard to be able to return to the softball field.”
Dedicating herself to coming back better than ever, the multi-sport star went to physical therapy twice a week and spent countless hours in the trainer's room at Bowie High School working on her range of motion.
Ahead of schedule, Abbey was cleared to start swinging a bat and throwing in early September. She contacted her high school track coach who designed a track workout to help her keep up her speed. Finally, her doctor cleared her for softball activities without any sliding or diving in October.
“During rehab I was focused on doing everything possible to get back on the field as soon as possible,” Abbey says. “As soon as I was able to remove the sling, I contacted my track coach for workouts. If I couldn’t work on softball, l I knew I could work on speed and endurance. I was also told that running allowed for natural arm movements to help with my range of motion.”
One of the most difficult parts of rehabbing, the Texan teen admits, was not pushing herself too hard too fast to get back on the field.
“My coaches, track and hitting, always reminded me to gradually increase the intensity,” Abbey continues. “When I work out, I always want to go full power, so this was the hardest part of recovery—not always working to my full ability. My hitting coach and I decided this was the perfect time to work on the little details of my swing.”
The injury and subsequent rehab also played a factor in Abbey deciding to play for a club team outside of Texas.
“We contacted Coach Brooks Cherry of Tennessee Mojo,” Mike Smith explains, “because Abbey felt that playing for the Mojo organization would give her more opportunities for the Auburn coaching staff to monitor her progress and would also give her a chance to play with more SEC commits during the upcoming travel ball season.”
On her unofficial visit last November, Coach Dean affirmed Auburn's commitment to Abbey.
“He told me that her desire to travel to Auburn to meet with him and hang out with her fellow commits for the day, even though she was in a sling, told the coaching staff everything they needed to know about her commitment to the Auburn program,” the athlete’s father adds.
On December 4, Abbey received clearance to resume all softball activities. She texted Coach Dean, who promptly responded back, "YAYYYYY!"
Four weeks ago, on January 3, 2020, Abbey made her return to the Plains of Auburn University to participate in the Auburn Winter Camp where she was put her through a strenuous workout and, according to those that were there, performed as she had before the injury.
Having committed on April 12, 2017 before Coach Dean took over the reins at Auburn five months later, Abbey is the only remaining commit from the previous coaching staff. With her 2.62 home-to-first speed and great athletic skills—not to mention a 4.2 GPA in Pre-AP and AP Classes—it’s not hard to see why she is SEC bound.
Still, sometimes it’s not the success in competition that proves an athlete’s mettle, it’s how he or she responds in the face of adversity. For Abbey Smith, her pushing through her injury, surgery and rehab and her dedication to the Auburn softball program showed more about her character than anything she could have done between the lines.
--- Brentt Eads, Extra Inning Softball