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Smither, Rankin sign college grants

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He is headed to Berea; she will play at Southern

By Josh Cook

A pair of senior student-athletes from Collins High School recently confirmed in writing their colleges of choice.

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Michael Smither signed last Thursday, during a ceremony in the school’s library, to play baseball for Berea College. Then Bailey Rankin on Tuesday inked to play softball for Southern (La.) University and A&M College.

Through the Titans’ first 26 games Smither, a pitcher-infielder, had appeared in one game on the mound and hit .312 with seven runs scored.

“He’s done a great job for us,” Collins Coach Roy Bailey said. “Smitty falls into the category of guys who work for everything they get. He comes in every day with a positive attitude, he works hard, and he’s a phenomenal teammate.”

Those are traits that haven’t gone unnoticed by his teammates. Bailey recalled an instance earlier this season when one of the Titans came to him and said Smither, “has worked hard, he deserves to play.” 

“You can’t have a better complement than that,” Bailey said.

Smither said he chose Berea because, “I felt it was the right place for me.”

“When I went down there, I really liked what I saw,” he said. “I really couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”

The Mountaineers recently finished their season with a 17-26 record.

Smither, who has a 3.5 grade-point average, said he likely would major in “something in business.”

Meanwhile in her emotional ceremony Rankin said that signing with an NCAA Division I school was the culmination of an ambition she only realized in the last couple of years was possible.

“It’s just the best feeling,” she said. “I’m going to live my dream.”

Through her team’s first 26 games this season Rankin, a left fielder, was batting .292 with 21 hits, 3 doubles, 3 triples, 1 home run and 19 RBIs.

Rankin thanked those who have helped her along the way, especially her parents.

In addition to being a 3-year starter for the softball team – she also was on the varsity roster at Shelby County as an eighth-grader and as a freshman – Rankin was a 3-year varsity player for the Collins girls’ basketball team.

“Bailey Rankin is who you want to be like,” girls’ basketball coach Phillip Conder said. “She’s the perfect role model.”