FRESHMAN SMITH WINS 2012 TOM WALTER COLLEGE BASEBALL INSPIRATION AWARD
August 21, 2012
MARTIN, Tenn. – Despite being born without a right hand, Carter Smith never let that phase him. He put in the work to get better every day and that eventually led to a college scholarship to play baseball at The University of Tennessee at Martin. The hard work has paid off in a big way, as CollegeBaseballInsider.com named Smith a recipient of the second-annual Tom Walter College Baseball Inspiration Award today.
Smith shares the prestigious national award with Marty Gantt (College of Charleston), Mike Kent (Clemson), Alex Silver (Texas) and Tanner Varva (Valparaiso). The award is named after Tom Walter, the head coach at Wake Forest who donated a kidney to freshman outfielder Kevin Jordan before the 2011 season.
“This is not only a great honor for our school, but it is great for Carter personally,” Skyhawk head coach Bubba Cates said. “This is big for his family and everybody that has helped him along the way.”
After watching Smith on the mound, it is hard not to be inspired. In a move reminiscent of former Major League Baseball player Jim Abbott, he begins his windup with his glove placed on his right hand. After he releases the ball, he quickly switches his glove to his left hand during his followthrough in preparation to field a comeback grounder. After receiving the ball back from the catcher, he holds the ball in his left hand and places the glove back on his right hand.
Smith worked his way into the starting rotation for UT Martin as a true freshman in 2012. His potential was evident from the day he first stepped on the mound against Butler on Feb. 25. In his collegiate debut, the 6-2 southpaw conceded just one hit – a bunt single – over four scoreless frames to earn the victory.
That would just be the beginning of a remarkable beginning of his career, as he would emerge victorious in his first three decisions. He allowed only one hit over three shutout innings against Christian Brothers on March 20 to earn the win.
Gaining the trust of Cates and the coaching staff, Smith drew the starting assignment in the finale of UT Martin’s Ohio Valley Conference opening series against Tennessee Tech on March 25. In that game, Smith kept the Golden Eagles off balance – racking up a career-high five strikeouts while allowing only two runs over five innings. He earned the victory and gave UT Martin a big OVC series win.
Filling a variety of roles throughout the season, Smith was effective out of the bullpen to end the season. He did not issue a single walk in his final five appearances, posting a 1.50 ERA over that span.
Overall, Smith made 16 appearances – starting in seven contests. In four of his seven starts, he allowed three or fewer earned runs. In 40 total innings, he struck out 27 batters.
“Carter is one of the most well-liked and well-respected teammates in the locker room,” Cates said. “He is also one of the hardest workers on the team and this award is well-deserved."
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