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Top 15: Blazing fastball, big bat help land softball great Mark Smith at No. 10

October 16, 2017

Halifax, NS - - Top 15: Blazing fastball, big bat help land softball great Mark Smith at No. 10

Softball star Mark Smith earned the No. 10 position in the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame’s Top 15 poll.

Mark Smith’s softball career was nothing short of remarkable.

Smith’s career spanned 25 years and he is still considered one of the sport’s greatest players.

The left-hander with the blazing fastball and a potent bat to match led teams to world championships, Pan Am titles and, in the twilight of his fabled career, returned home to Nova Scotia in the late 1990s in an effort to boost the sport’s profile.

Smith’s achievements have led to his enshrinement in the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, the Canadian Softball Hall of Fame and the American Softball Hall of Fame (ISC).

His prowess on the mound and at the plate earned the Halifax native the No. 10 position in the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame’s Top 15 poll recognizing the province’s rich sports history.

The hall will count down its Top 15 athletes list every week, with the No. 1 athlete being named on Dec. 18.

Figure skater Robert McCall was No. 15, kayaker Mark de Jonge No. 14, wheelchair sprinter Jamie Bone No. 13, gymnastics sensation Ellie Black No. 12 and kayaker Karen Furenaux No.11.

Smith, now 58, began his journey in 1978 when he went to play junior softball in Ontario.

In 1979 he helped a Victoria team win the gold medal for Canada at the Pan–Am Games. He also played on Pan Am-title teams in 1983 and 1991, and was an assistant coach in 1999.

Smith’s international star was on the rise when he joined the Camarillo Kings of California in 1981 and led the team to back–to–back International Softball Congress championships.

Over the course of his career, Smith played in nine ISC championships and was named to the all–world team five times.

He won an International Softball Federation world championship with Canada in 1992 in Manila. He drove home the winning run in extra innings against New Zealand in the gold-medal game

Smith returned to Nova Scotia in 1993 and signed to play and coach a team sponsored by Keith’s Breweries.

In 1997 he formed his own team, the Halifax Jaguars. The Jaguars won the 1998 Canadian senior championship in St. Croix.

That championship game, in what would be his final tournament, was an emotional moment for Smith. He told The Chronicle Herald’s Monty Mosher, “When the final out was made I couldn’t have been more proud in my life.”

Smith’s time as a player had come to an end but he wasn’t ready to walk away from the sport.

He was a member of the coaching staff for the men’s national team program from 1996 to 2009 and has been head coach of the women’s national team program since 2009.

Smith took the position of director of sport development for Sport Nova Scotia in 2002. He would later become the director of coaching in 2011.

Smith, who calls Falmouth home, is now Softball Canada’s high-performance director and head coach of the women’s national team. The team is ranked third in the world and has its sights set on the 2020 Olympics.