Jake Smith has just become the second Howard student-athlete to commit to furthering his athletic career at Southern Arkansas University in the past two weeks. Following the commitment of Laela Minnich to the Lady Muleriders softball team, Smith will also suit up for the royal blue and gold when the next baseball season kicks off in the spring of 2021.
“I'm so proud of him,” former Hawks assistant coach Eddie Paparella said. “Southern Arkansas will be a great fit for him and I have no doubt he'' be able to make an immediate impact next year.”
The sophomore infielder played in 16 games for the Hawks in the shortened 2020 season. He was consistent at the plate and finished his second season in Big Spring with 11 hits in 52 at-bats. Smith also scored 12 runs and accounted for seven runs-batted-in while knocking one ball over the fence for the lone home run of his sophomore year.
Smith also finished with a middle-of-the-pack batting average (.212) but made up for it with a better ability to find his way on-base (.328 OBP) through a good eye for the ball. The McKinney High School graduate also made his mark on defense by leading the team with five double plays made and a sky-high fielding percentage (.939).
The Texas native played his high school ball over 300 miles away from Howard while growing up just east of Dallas. He will now move over 200 miles east of McKinney to suit up for the Muleriders for the next two years. Smith will be within a three-and-a-half hour drive of his hometown and should be able to show off his skills in front of friends and family.
Southern Arkansas was off to a tremendous start to their 2020 season and had jumped out to a 19-4 record. The Muleriders are a high-scoring bunch of explosive batters and solid defenders and are a threat to win the Great American Conference (GAC) every year. Smith could bring his leadership ability to the diamond in Magnolia and assist the Muleriders in having a top-notch season.
“He's a leader, relentless worker, fierce competitor, and a fearless servant of Christ,” Paparella said. “He's the type of young man that will leave an impact on the locker room long after his time on the field is over.”
“He's the total package.”
Shawn Moran is the sportswriter at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com or call 432-263-7331.