E.A. Sports Today

End of an era

Smith steps down as Piedmont softball coach, bringing end to highly successful family run with Bulldogs. Strott promoted.

Editor’s note: East Alabama Sports Today editor Joe Medley contributed to this story.

By Shannon Fagan
WEIS Sports Director

PIEDMONT – Steve and Rachel Smith had long, successful runs as head coaches at Piedmont and their three children filled halls and walls with sports accomplishments.

Their family run at Piedmont officially ended Monday.

Cover photo: Rachel Smith and daughter Savannah Smith embrace at Choccolocco Park after the final game of Piedmont’s most recent state-tournament run. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Nearly a month after her youngest child played her last softball game for Piedmont, Rachel Smith announced her resignation as the school’s head softball coach. She also announced the promotion of assistant coach Matt Strott as her replacement.

Smith’s announcement comes just nine days after she and her husband were inducted into the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame, and less than a month after leading Piedmont to its fourth straight state softball tournament appearance … the first four state-tourney appearances in the program’s fast-pitch history.

Smith made the announcement to media members via email on Monday morning.

“After much thought, prayer, and discussions with my family, I have made the difficult decision to step away from the position of head softball coach at Piedmont,” Smith said. “Although I dearly love coaching and the precious people and players in our softball program, the demands of coaching while working full-time have required me to miss out on some special moments and time with my children and family.

“So, it is time for me to make a choice. Moving forward, I want to be available for those moments with my family.”

One of Smith’s great joys in coaching softball has been coaching her daughter and youngest child, Savannah Smith. After graduating from Piedmont at the end of this school year, the younger Smith will continue her softball career at Jacksonville State University – her mother’s alma mater.

Rachel Smith was a standout outfielder with the Gamecocks in 1995 and 1996 – JSU’s first two seasons at the Division I level.

Steve Smith served as Piedmont’s head football coach and athletics director for 17 years, winning five Class 3A state titles before moving on to take the same jobs at Westbrook Christian after the 2022 season.

Sons Sean and Sloan starred in football and baseball for the Bulldogs. Like their sister, they earned multiple All-State and All-Calhoun County honors.

Rachel Smith became Piedmont’s head softball coach in 2014. The Lady Bulldogs posted a 39-win season in 2023. Following that season, Smith was named the Class 3A Softball Coach of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.

“I’m so thankful for the support and understanding from my family throughout these coaching years at Piedmont,” Rachel Smith said. “I’m proud that we have established a solid foundation for our program to be successful.

“Successful school programs are built from the ground up. We, as a community, must continue to invest in our youth softball programs, both in travel and recreational leagues. As a coaching staff, we must continue to develop players in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades — for this is the foundation of any successful sports program.”

Smith called Strott “an excellent choice” as her successor.

“I am so confident in his abilities,” Smith said. “The current players and staff understand the process and the expectations at Piedmont.

“I will be forever indebted to my family — Steve, Sean, Sloan, and Savannah — the administrators, current and former players, current and former coaches, fans, and the Piedmont community for believing in me to lead Piedmont softball. Leading this team has been one of my life’s greatest joys and an experience I will never forget.”

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