John Bingaman knows how important Megan Smith is to the Pioneer softball team.
So when Smith went down with a knee injury early this season, it certainly provided the Panthers a scare.
Luckily for Smith and the Panthers, the injury was just a bad bone bruise that made her knee swell up about the size of a softball.
The Class A No. 12 Panthers (10-6) went 1-3 with Smith out of the lineup and are 9-3 wither her in it.
Smith bats leadoff for Pioneer and is batting .326 with nine runs scored in 12 games. She also provides steady defense as the starting shortstop.
“She’s a three-year starter at shortstop for us,” Bingaman said. “She has good range and for her size and stature she has a really strong arm. She has provided a lot of stability for us up the middle.”
The knee injury was particularly worrisome due to Smith’s injury history. She tore the ACL on her right knee twice, the first time her freshman year and the second time her junior year which caused her to miss volleyball that year.
Her softball injury this year was on her left knee.
“It was really scary. I didn’t know what I did,” she said. “It freaked me out.”
It took a lot of hard work for Smith to return to sports as strong as she has.
“It’s been difficult but I got a lot of support,” she said.
Said Bingaman: “She’s a pretty tough-nosed kid. She’s obviously had some injuries and it has not deterred her.
“She’s still pretty fleet of foot and quick and agile.”
Smith is back healthy and the Panthers can still achieve their goals in softball of winning Midwest Conference and sectional titles.
One of the games Smith missed was an MWC loss to Frontier, but the Panthers got some help from Caston which knocked off the Falcons. Pioneer will travel to Caston on May 20 in a game that could decide the MWC championship.