SULLIVAN TWP. — Brace yourself: Dagmar Smith has a college softball scholarship in hand, her back is healed and she’s ready to enjoy her senior season at Black River.
The three-time All-Gazette pick recently accepted a scholarship from Division II Ursuline College that will cover everything but her room and board at the Pepper Pike school.
“It’s a giant relief off my shoulders,” Smith said. “I can relax and play high school and travel ball and not worry about where I’m going to go.”
Smith, a right-handed pitcher who throws 62 mph, finished 16-3 as a junior, when she led Black River to the Massillon Division III Regional championship game.
Smith also led Medina County in earned run average (1.04), struck out 144 in 108 innings and posted a 16-3 record while batting .400 and stealing 18 bases.
She missed 12 games at the end of the regular season after straining her lower back on a headfirst slide back to first base against Keystone. Black River, which finished 20-12 overall, was 5-7 without its ace.
Smith, who said doctors originally told her she had a pinched nerve, returned to pitch in the postseason.
“It was painful,” she said, “but I had such an adrenaline rush going the whole time, it was bearable.”
When her back continued to bother her in the offseason, Smith had an MRI and CAT scan done. They revealed a crack in her L5 vertebra, which resulted in her wearing a back brace — she took it off only to shower — for 6½ months.
“It was very alarming at first, but the doctors assured me it was a fairly common injury at my age because I was not done growing,” the 5-foot-8 senior said. “It’s usually caused by stress and overworking, but mine was a freak injury (on the slide back to first).
“I feel fantastic now. I just got the brace off and I’m cleared to do everything.”
After her senior year at Black River, Smith will join an Ursuline team that finished 11-28 last season.
Coached by Sue Woodford, the Arrows are about to play their first season in the newly formed, five-team Great Midwest Athletic Conference, which will also include Urbana, Cedarville, Kentucky Wesleyan and Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.).
“It’s a great school,” Smith said of Ursuline. “I loved the campus.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.