Trace Smith, a Jefferson High School senior, says leg strength and grades were key to him getting an athletic scholarship at Panola College in Carthage, Texas.
Smith, a successful football and baseball player, recently signed up with Panola to play baseball after rejecting two offers to play football in college.
“Going into baseball is just a better fit for me,” he told the Jimplecute this week. “Baseball has always been my passion. It fits my personality more.”
Smith further explained that Panola signs a lot of their sophomores to Division 1 schools, which would give him more options.
He started playing in Little League when he was six or seven, initially playing third base and then shortstop. When he was about 10, he began pitching and has been in that core position ever since with his pitching speed constantly improving together with accuracy.
Asked if he was a better fielder or hitter Trace adamantly said both. “You can’t just be one or the other. But when I go into college, I will be a pitcher and I won’t hit at all.”
Asked what the secret was to being a good high school pitcher, he said: “Really just working hard.”
One priority was getting strength in his legs. While arm strength is important, he insists that building leg strength is what got him where he is today. But grades, he says, “are the most important thing.”
Heading off to Panola later in the year, Smith says he will start with “basic studies” and then he plans to major in chemical engineering. Not only is he aiming for all As, he has already had impressive statistics from last year’s season that include an ERA (earned run average) of 2.71, about 140 strikeouts, and a batting average of 0.424. His pitches clock at about 90-91 miles per hour (a figure that equates with major league games).
In the meantime, the Jefferson High School Bulldogs’ baseball season takes priority. Speaking about the more experienced team of juniors and seniors, Smith says their pitching and hitting is stepping up and he feels they have a good season ahead.
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