After being top dog during his high school career in Salem, Mo., Crowder southpaw Ryan Smith admitted there’s been an adjustment period during his college career.
It’s an adjustment he’s finally getting used to he says, not having to be the top dog any longer, as he’s found a role in the bullpen with the talented Roughriders squad.
The ability to adjust should help him along, he admits, and says he’ll do so next season at NAIA Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn.
He’s the son of Don and Stacy Smith.
While Smith (5’9, 165 pounds) has fought with a host of others for time in a crowded, and very talented, Crowder bullpen, he convinced Lions coach Jonathan Estes to make an offer with a solid workout on a visit to Freed-Hardeman over the Christmas break. Estes made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, too, and the sophomore said he couldn’t be happier with his decision.
“It’s a pretty good NAIA school and they were nationally ranked this year,” Smith said. “It kind of sparked my interest and I’m glad I signed there. They offered me a pretty good deal I couldn’t pass up.”
During his time at Crowder, Smith, who is 1-0 this season after logging 6 2/3 innings with five strikeouts, said the work ethic instilled in him by coach Travis Lallemand and the Roughrider program will benefit him greatly with the Lions.
“Since coming here I know I’ll make a big impact at Freed with my work ethic that Coach Lallemand gave me. Without coming here I probably wouldn’t be the player that I am. I know what I’ve learned here will help out FHU along the way.”
Lallemand said Smith has only continued to grow as a player with the Roughriders.
“Ryan came in last year and redshirted, worked extremely hard and developed,” Lallemand said. “He probably added 6-8 miles per hour on his fastball last year. He’s been in a relief role for us this year and he’ll have the opportunity to move on and pitch at the next level.
“He’s had good success in the fall and has been pretty good for us.”
One thing Smith will already be accustomed to when he arrives at FHU is winning. After making it to the NAIA National Tournament last season, the Lions are currently 38-13-1 overall competing in the TranSouth Athletic Conference.
“I enjoy every minute with my teammates,” Smith said. “I just enjoy going out there and going on win streaks and going on trips with them. It’s just been a fun ride here at Crowder and hopefully we can make it to (the NJCAA National Tournament) Grand Junction (Colo.) this year.”