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Softball More Than Game to Frequent-Flier Dad

April 22, 1998|LAUREN PETERSON

When it comes to finding a way to watch his daughter play softball, not even the sky's the limit for Jay Smith.

He attends every one of El Camino Real High's games, which wouldn't be unusual except that Smith flies in from San Jose each time.

"It's not easy to take a half-day off from work, to go fly there, and then rent a car and go to wherever the game is," Smith said. "But I would never, ever regret any of that."

It means a lot to his daughter, Morgan Smith, a senior first baseman.

"It's been hard, but softball's something that's a big part of my life right now, and I'm glad he can still be a part of it," said Morgan, who lives with her mother, Carla Huffman, in West Hills. Huffman also attends all of her daughter's games.

Morgan's parents divorced in 1991, and her father began flying to games in 1996 when he moved to Santa Cruz to take a job in San Jose.

"I really have to credit my employer," Smith said. "Part of my deal for coming up there was that I would be able to have that time off to [attend Morgan's games]. That was the only condition I asked for."

Frequent rains early in the season forced Smith to studiously check weather reports and El Camino Real's schedule before departing.

"Even so, a couple of the games have been canceled while I was in the air," he said.

Smith's commitment extends to serving as El Camino Real's team photographer. His pictures will eventually go to Morgan, who has put together a scrapbook for each of the past four seasons.

She makes three copies of the scrapbook--one for herself, one for her father and another for the team. Individual pictures are printed and given to each senior player.

"I know [Morgan] appreciates it," Smith said. "But I almost do it for me, too. Softball has been an opportunity for both of us to stay involved in each other's lives."

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