Age is just a number for Matt Smith

Jerod Moreno

Matt Smith is a true freshman who is making a huge impact on Sacramento State’s baseball team, although you wouldn’t guess he’s a freshman just by looking at him.

Smith has always been a bigger kid growing up, but he finally started to see success when he grew into his body during the early stages of high school. Smith currently walks around the Sac State campus at 6 feet 4 inches and 210 pounds at 18 years of age.

“I went from about 5’10 to 6’2 from my freshman to sophomore year and that’s when I started to see everything click with baseball,” Smith said.

A four-year varsity player for El Dorado High School in Placerville, California, Smith dominated the scene at a young age. As a sophomore, he had a .523 batting average with 46 hits in just 26 games played. Not to mention his 26 RBI and 33 runs scored. As a sophomore in high school, he led the team in almost every offensive category.

Smith’s most successful season to date was his senior year of high school, breaking a few records during his senior year, including a .598 batting average, a 1.217 slugging percentage, home runs with 15 and RBIs with 57. Smith hit more RBIs his senior year than his sophomore and junior years combined.

Sac State’s recruiting team went out to one of Smith’s games, not to scout him but to check out one of the other players during his game. In the end, Smith ended up stealing the show.

“We were out watching somebody else play and then we saw him,” Sac State head coach Reggie Christiansen said. “He really impressed us with his strength, athleticism and his power, so it was really a no-brainer for us to talk to him.”

As a true freshman and the youngest player on the team, Smith is currently leading the Hornets in hits, RBIs, batting average and on base percentage. Smith has been able to accomplish this midseason feat while missing six games due to a mishap at the plate.

“Against either North or South Dakota earlier this year, I was at the plate hitting and a fastball ran in and it got me right in the eye,” Smith said. “I went to the ER and got a CT scan, but there was nothing they could do because of the swelling.”

Smith was cleared to play after they re-evaluated him when the swelling went down and has continued to make an impact for the Hornets.

His cool demeanor and fun approach to the game has rubbed off on his teammates, including junior catcher Gunner Pollman.

“He has changed my perspective on baseball and to play it more carefree and for fun,” Pollman said. “The guy rakes, he’s relaxed and doesn’t let thought interrupt him at the plate.”

Even though Smith has set some records that may never be broken at El Dorado High School, he said his most memorable moment in baseball was when he drove in the game tying run against nationally ranked Louisiana State University earlier this year, allowing his team to win the game.

“I was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and we were facing Alex Lange, who is a very, very good pitcher.” Smith said. “Just the fact that the coaches had the faith to let me hit and not just bunt the runner over, then being able to come through for my team during that high pressure situation felt amazing.”

As soon as Smith started taking his first steps as a child, the game of baseball followed immediately after.

He grew up with baseball and it has molded him into the person he is today. He would watch his brother play baseball as a toddler, and has seen him as a role model since day one.

Smith also credited his parents for his success in baseball.

He was coached by his dad throughout the years and as he got older and started playing more competitive baseball, they drove him wherever he needed to be to get better. Whether it be practice 20 or 30 minutes away, a game that’s over an hour away, or waking up at 5 a.m. to take him to an early morning game, they were always there for him.

Many people say that baseball teaches you a lot about life, more than just about what goes on in the game, and Smith lives every day by a certain motto he feels holds true to all aspects of life.

“Live life to the fullest; it’s a game, but sooner or later we’re going to have to stop playing,” Smith said. “So play it as hard as you can as long as you can, because at one point, it ends for everyone.”