On the pitcher’s mound, few players in the Red River Valley were as fearsome this past year as Trent Smith for the North Lamar Panthers. Now, Smith is ready to put his skills to the test against even tougher opponents, as he prepares to play collegiately for North Central Texas College.
Smith began playing baseball at a very young age, and once he started, he couldn’t get enough of the sport.
“I’ve been playing for around 10 years, and it’s something I just fell in love with as I grew older,” he said. “The competitive rush was something that I didn’t really get from anything else, and I loved it.”
Not only did the game provide Smith with a competitive outlet, but it helped him form many of his closest relationships, he said.
“The more you grow, the more friends you make through the game,” he said.
Not only did he enjoy it, but he quickly realized he was good to boot. When he was around 10 years old, he realized he wanted to play ball at a high level, and began taking the sport and his work to improve seriously.
“It was when I started travel ball, so around the time that I was 10, that it became serious,” he said.
For Smith, he said he’s always looking to improve, and never content.
“I’m hard on myself,” he said. “If I have an error in the field, I focus on it, and ways that I could’ve played it differently or better so I don’t make the same mistake again.”
His tireless work ethic paid off, and he became a bona fide ace for the North Lamar Panthers.
“Smitty is a terrific player,” head coach Bric Steed said. “He’s got two pitches, but that’s really all he needs. He’s got a fastball that tops 90 mph and a slider that looks like it’s headed down the middle of the plate and then disappears at the last second.
“Having a pitcher like that is a huge boost to a team. Any time he took the mound, we knew we were going to win. It’s a great feeling to know you can fall back on your pitcher even if the offense might not be there.”
Smith’s dominance was on full display in an early-season game, when Smith hurled a no-hitter against Winnsboro.
“That was pretty amazing,” Smith said with a laugh. “After the game (my teammates) all mobbed me, and it was a great feeling.”
Smith was impeccable in his no-no, striking out 13 batters in six innings, and was one walk away from a perfect game.
“I probably would have had a perfect game, but the umpire called time right as I was about to pitch, and it messed me up and I threw a ball on the next pitch,” Smith said with a laugh. “When I was getting that final out, I just told myself not to try too hard and stay within myself.”
In addition to excelling on the mound, Smith also excelled as a middle infielder at shortstop.
“When he wasn’t pitching, we’d play him at shortstop, and honestly when he was there he was one of our best defensive players,” Steed said. “He’s just a great all-around player.”
Smith said he enjoyed playing shortstop, but where he truly shines is on the mound, and when he joins NCTC, he’ll devote himself to just being a pitcher.
Looking back at his time with North Lamar, Smith said he’s going to miss bonding with the team and coaches on bus rides to away games.
“A lot of my best memories come on those bus rides,” he said.
Looking to the future, though, Smith said he’s ready to test his mettle against college opponents.
“I’m looking forward to the higher amped tempo and tougher competition,” he said. “I’m also excited about getting to travel more and going a lot farther to play.”