Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press Grundy County shortstop Kasey Myers warms up with Laura Smartt while playing against Notre Dame.
Laura Smartt and Kasey Myers playing softball at Grundy County High School greatly helps two team averages - the batting and grade point averages.
Smartt is co-valedictorian of the 2010 class with a 4.0 GPA. Myers is next at 3.829.
Smartt batted .390 and drove in 20 runs when Grundy County went 24-9 last season. Myers batted .340 a year ago with 15 RBIs.
"I'm competitive at everything," Smartt said. "I've been told that by a bunch of people. I play to win. I don't play to have fun."
She conceded that it's fun when the Lady Yellow Jackets win, and they're off to a 6-2 start this season.
Smartt, who at first was focused on golf at Grundy County, is in her second year with the softball program. Coach Shawn DiGianfelice said her greatest asset is that she's so driven.
"She's almost a perfectionist," DiGianfelice said of his shortstop. "She's the type that, say you have to write a paper. If she makes a mistake, instead of erasing it, she tears it up and starts over."
DiGianfelice said Myers may be the most compassionate young person he's been around. She plays first base and has cherished her four years playing for "Coach D."
"What I like is he pushes the student before the athlete," Myers said.
Myers and Smartt took pre-calculus last semester, and each said math is her favorite subject. The two have maintained their high academic standards while carrying workloads filled with honors classes.
"English has been a killer," Smartt said. "I'm not going to lie."
Smartt plans to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Myers wants to attend Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro. Both want to study nursing -- Smartt's concentration in the area of trauma and Myers' in pediatrics.
Before that, they've got some unfinished business on the softball field that includes trying to win the District 7-AA championship and hoping to reach the state tournament. Myers said she thinks they have a talented enough team to accomplish those goals as long as all can play their best consistently.
DiGianfelice knows at least Myers and Smartt will make the effort to do their part.
"Both of them are good ballplayers, and they're better people than they are ballplayers," DiGianfelice said. "And they're probably two of the top five athletes in the building. I've never had a moment's trouble with either one of them. They're always respectful and go beyond what they're supposed to do. My job has been easy with them."
He attributes that to the families from which they come. The DiGianfelices hope parenting their daughter, Sydney, works out as well.
"I have a daughter who will be 3 in August," DiGianfelice said. "If my daughter could be anything, I'd want her to be just like those two kids."
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or email@example.com.