Smith, Walden ending careers together

Hasani Grayson

At the end of the season, two teammates who have been playing together for eight years will end their careers.

Infielder Amanda Walden and outfielder Laura Smith, who played softball and basketball together at Greenwood High School, will be graduating at the end of the year.

The two won state softball championships in 2007 and 2008 and Smith says she wants a similar ending to her WKU career.

“The days are counting down as far as how many games I have in my career,” she said. “Everyone’s talking about Senior Day coming around the corner…so now I just want to finish on a high note.”

Walden said that even though those Greenwood teams were dominant, it was her job to make sure the team stayed relaxed.

“It was just a fun time with friends,” she said. “It was more relaxed and fun than college ball, it seems like.”  

Walden said many of her high school teammates went on to play softball in college.

After reflecting on her high school softball experience, Walden also looked back on what it meant to her to play with a teammate she’s known since middle school.

“Time’s flown by, and I can’t believe it’s already my senior year,” she said. “…Laura’s a great person — she’s a great teammate, and she’s a great friend, so I couldn’t ask for another better senior to be with this year.”

 Smith said  their years playing together have helped them grow closer as friends.

“It’s almost like having your sister out there with you,” she said. “We can just look at each other and kind of tell how each other’s feeling.

“We know how to handle each other. When you come into college especially, you’ve got to learn how to handle your other teammates.”

Walden and Smith said they have different leadership styles.

Smith said she likes to let her play lead the team since she’s not very vocal.

“Being a senior, you want to be able to help the team any way you can,” she said. “You want to be that person who gets a rally going or get that extra base hit to score a run or make a play in the outfield. You always want to be that person they remember.”

Walden, who has started just seven games this season, said she likes to pick her spots and talk to her teammates to get them going.

“I’m definitely the more vocal out of the two of us and one of the most vocal people on the team,” she said. “When the team is starting to go south, I tend to bring it up and be the one that speaks to them and say, ‘Let’s get back on track.’”

Both Smith and Walden agreed their leadership will be key as WKU plays conference opponent Louisiana-Monroe this weekend, trying to move up in the Sun Belt standings.

The Lady Toppers’ 7-7-1 league record has them fifth in the Sun Belt.

Head Coach Tyra Perry said what they provide to the team will be missed after this season.

“Both Smith and Walden are very good kids,” she said. “They always operate in a manner of character. You can tell that they love Western and everything it stands for, so when you lose kids like that, it’s tough.”