The Panthers have a unique baseball team this year. Only three of the team’s 18 seniors had varsity experience, and the team was not favored to make it to the playoffs, let alone win district. Their 12-2 record speaks for itself, however. Helping lead the team in the successful district run and into the playoffs has been starting center fielder Trey Smith.
Smith only played a handful of times with the varsity last year, mainly pinch hitting and running toward the end of the season and in the playoffs. Smith is also a dual-sport athlete, playing receiver on the varsity football team, but baseball holds a special appeal.
“In football, things are more predictable, but baseball is a game of ups and downs,” he said. “There is always a new challenge, a new pitcher to face. You can go into a slump and it is the worst, but then when you are doing well, you feel like a pro.”
Smith batted .415 through district this season with 18 RBIs and 11 runs, and at 6-4 he was tough to miss.
“He is a physically gifted athlete,” said baseball head coach Alan McDougal. “He runs well, has an above-average arm in the outfield, he practices well and he is a lead-by-example guy.”
That leadership has helped keep the team together in good times and bad this year.
“Trey has a presence about him,” McDougal said. “If we are in a tough spot, he can right the ship fairly quickly.”
Smith finds it easier to be a leader when his teammates are his friends.
“I love every guy on this team. We have played together, some of us, since middle school, and it is a great group of guys,” he said. “We know each other well and get along well.”
Several times this season, the Panthers found themselves losing and had to fight back to take home the victory.
“We had some games where we had to come from behind and we never quit,” Smith said. “We continue to compete and swing the bat and see what happens. We think we can go far in the playoffs and we are going to work really hard to do it.”
McDougal coached Smith’s older brother several years ago and has watched the senior grow from a middle-schooler watching his brother play, to the strong athlete he is today.
“I have seen him mature and I am happy that his hard work and focus has worked out for him,” McDougal said. “It speaks volumes about what he is about.”
A National Honor Society member, Smith will continue to play both football and baseball at the academically selective Claremont McKenna College in California next year. While that takes some pressure off, it provides no help for the games to come.
“Knowing I will play next year relaxes me some but it doesn’t help with Texas high school baseball playoffs or the fact that I’ll never be able to play with these guys again,” he said. “I may be more nervous than I have ever been to play baseball.”
Much of the team might feel the same way, but McDougal thinks his players are up to the challenge of postseason competition.
“There is a little bit of the unknown in taking a bunch of guys that have never been in this situation before into the playoffs,” he said. “But we had success in district and we are going to be able to feed off of that and be successful in the playoffs.”
Smith is hoping his final high school season will end with a successful playoff run for himself and his fellow seniors.
“I want us to compete as hard as we can and show that we are capable of facing those tough teams,” he said. “I want us to really compete as the Colleyville Panthers and show that we don’t give up.”