By Ron Poniewasz Jr. and Andrew Petyak
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
He’s known by his coaches as “Davis Smith, baseball player.”
The title certainly fits for the Wilmington High shortstop, who has been a cog for four seasons on the Greyhounds baseball team.
When the team opened its campaign at 3-0 last week, it was Smith who was the driving force in its success, smacking a game-winning RBI triple in the opener against Mohawk, a game-tying RBI single vs. Reynolds and two hits, four RBIs and two steals in a victory over West Middlesex.
His performance earned him Lawrence County Athlete of the Week honors, an award sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy and selected by the New Castle News sports staff.
“Davis is basically where it starts. He’s our shortstop. He’s a four-year starter on our team. He’s been here as long as I have, so he’s like a second coach on the field,” ’Hounds coach Garett Malinak said. “His natural ability is so tremendous that now, I don’t even coach him; I just put him in the lineup. It’s a real advantage that he can take care of the infield defense like that, and at the plate, he’s just been tremendous in driving in a bunch of runs. He’s just been doing everything for us on the field.
“We’re kind of spoiled here, but that’s what I’ve come to expect the last four years in having the privilege to coach him. I’m happy for him. He’s having a nice start to his senior year.”
Hitting from the third spot in the batting order, Smith is relied upon to get the big swings and drive in runners. He’s done that with six RBIs through three games this season. After hard work this past offseason, he’s looking forward to adding plenty more runs to the scoreboard.
“I’m happy about it. We’re playing well as a team. I’m excited for the season; I think we’re going to do well,” Smith said. “Both my batting and my defense have improved, but mainly my mental game. I’m a lot more confident than I was when I was younger. I’ve been working hard in the weight room, trying to get bigger and stronger and make my game better all around.”
Smith came to the program as a freshman with the tools and the talent to succeed. Malinak, who began coaching the team in Smith’s freshman year, has seen Smith’s growth both on the field and in the locker room.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a player like Davis,” Malinak said. “In practice, he makes sure the players are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, working hard but still having fun by keeping guys loose when they need it and getting on other players when they need it, too. Like I said, he’s like having another coach on the field.
“That’s the best thing about him. As tremendous of a baseball player he is, he’s a better kid. He’s a great student and does anything you ask him. Everything is ‘yes, sir’ or ‘no, sir.’ He’s just a great kid to be around. I’ll tell you what, I’ll miss him after this year when he goes to play in college.”
Shortstop always has been the position of choice for Smith. A good thing, too, because If he ever needed any pointers on the spot, he need look no further than his own father, Dan Smith.
“I started in T-ball when I was about four or five years old. My dad always played. My whole family is a baseball family, so it’s like my thing to do. He was actually on the (Wilmington) state championship team in 1981 and he also was a shortstop,” Smith said. “My whole life, I’ve been just a middle infielder at shortstop or second base. You’re a little more involved in the game. You’re kind of running the team a little bit more. It’s just always what I’ve done.”
Davis and Dan aren’t the only members of the Smith family to play the game. Davis’s older sister, Carnie, was a member of Penn State University’s softball team.
Along with baseball, Smith plays on Wilmington’s basketball team and he participated on the golf team for three years. He hopes that baseball will be a part of his life in college — something Malinak knows he’ll succeed in doing.
“Any college that gets him is going to be very fortunate because he can play. He played middle infield for us, but he can play anywhere in the outfield or infield. I call him ‘Davis Smith, baseball player.’ That’s just what he is.”
ALL ABOUT: DAVIS SMITH
KNOWN FOR: Smith smacked the game-winning RBI triple in the Greyhounds opener against Mohawk, a game-tying RBI single vs. Reynolds and two hits, four RBIs and two steals in a victory over West Middlesex last week.
PARENTS: Dan and Janet Smith
FAVORITE PRO PLAYER AND WHY: New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. “He knows the game so well. He’s one of the best players in the game. I admire him.”
FAVORITE PRO TEAM AND WHY: Pittsburgh Pirates. They are the hometown team.
FUTURE PLANS: “I want to continue playing in college and go as far as I can go in that.”