Wednesday, June 29
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    Andrews-Osborne senior Jensen Sminchak had her doubts but on Thursday, she signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her education and softball career at the University of Rochester.

    “I am very excited for my future and to be able to play softball at the next level,” Sminchak said. “My dreams have become my future. I honestly can’t wait. It took some time to realize my accomplishment and for it to feel real.”

    The global pandemic has disrupted the recruiting process for thousands of athletes nationwide. Sminchak was one of them.

    Fortunately, she remained in contact—virtually—with several college coaches and she attended a camp at Rochester this summer, which led to an official visit in the fall.

    “I began talking to the coach during the spring of my junior year,” said Sminchak, who plays summer ball for the Vipers Softball Club. “I was invited to their prospect Zoom; due to COVID, there weren’t any camps or visits going on. I stayed in touch with the coaches and was invited to their prospect camp where we really got to visit the campus, meet the coaches in person, and show off my skills. I had my official visit on September 11, where I got to meet a lot of the players, see more of the campus, and learn about the school. The campus is beautiful; my favorite part was the library and the softball locker room.”

    During her visit, Sminchak realized she found the perfect fit.

    “The University of Rochester has so many opportunities for me to pursue,” she said. “I wanted a university in a city with high academics and the opportunity to play softball. All the boxes were checked, especially ranking high nationally for engineering and flexible curriculum.”

    She also had the chance to meet the coaching staff and current players.

    Sminchak learned more about the softball program and felt right at home with her future teammates.

    “I think the coaches at the University of Rochester are some of the best people I have met,” she said. “Some of my first impressions were that they were fun and loved softball but also could easily flip the switch when needed with an abundance of knowledge and serious manner. I had a great time meeting a lot of the team; I got a really good vibe from many of them. The whole team is made of hardworking girls who are very intelligent and love softball. My hosts for the visit were also so welcoming and amiable. They answered all my questions and seemed to love the school.”

    Rochester recruited Sminchak as a utility player who can play in the middle infield or in the outfield.

    “This is exactly what I wanted,” she said. “I am a very versatile player. I can play anywhere. I am very excited to work hard and find where I fit in the team.”

    Sminchak chose Rochester over Tufts, Washington University, and the University of Chicago. She also had considered attending Northwestern, Cornell, Michigan, Columbia, and Virginia Tech if her softball dreams weren’t realized.

    Now, with the ink dried on her letter of intent, Sminchak can focus on her club and senior seasons.

    “For my senior season, it’s kind of a relief I don’t have to stress about the recruiting process,” she said. “I am very excited to have fun and keep working on my skills and strength to follow into college softball.”

    Sminchak learned a lot during the recruitment process and she hopes other players continue to follow their dreams, wherever they may lead.

    “I kind of was late into the recruiting process and struggled with COVID and its limiting factors,” she said. “My best advice to younger softball players hoping to get recruited is to do your best to communicate and get in touch with the coaches, as well as speaking to them about camps and getting that personal invite to where they know you are coming and there to watch you. If they can’t attend your games, this is the best way to sell yourself to the coaches. They can see your personality, leadership, and skills. Also, (don’t) be led askew by many stereotypes of colleges or universities, especially if you haven’t researched anything. Follow your heart and find your fit.”



    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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