DOBSON — Surry Central baseball standout Hunter Smith has agreed to play for the Surry Knights next year.
The senior with the good fastball will play for Surry Community College and Coach Jamie Lowe.
Smith was featured on WXII recently because of his childhood battle with cancer, but he also draws plenty of attention for his pitching.
His ERA is 2.19 and batters are hitting a meager .188 against him.
His numbers were even better for the first half of the year when he went 4-1, noted Central Coach Matt Scott.
The team hit a slump and began to make a lot of errors in the field. Then Hunter put a lot of pressure on himself to try to be perfect, and that hurt his performance a little, Scott explained.
Still, when the Golden Eagles went to an Easter tournament and forgot to take their bats, it was Smith who gave the team its lone win of the tournament with a 1-0 shutout of Cedar Ridge. He struck out 11 batters, his second-highest of the season.
The most strikeouts came against East Surry in another 1-0 shutout. Smith had 12 K’s and just one walk as the Cards had a team batting average of .150.
He also struck out 10 Greyhounds in six innings of a 3-0 win over North Surry.
Hunter may have pitched another shutout there, but Scott said he was trying to limit Hunter’s pitch count to save his arm for the long season. Smith was at 101 that night and has averaged about 90 pitches in his eight starts.
SCC assistant coach Wayne Edmonds has seen Smith pitch several times and usually had his radar gun with him. Edmonds said Smith typically throws in the mid-80s with his fastball and drops the curve down into the upper 60s.
Scott believes the Knights are getting a steal in this young man.
He recalled how a couple of pro scouts came to the Eagles’ first game to see a player on the West Wilkes squad.
Smith struck out nine batters in five innings before coming out in the top of the sixth of a 2-1 win.
The next day, Scott said his phone was ringing off the hook with college coaches seeking information on the senior.
The coach said one college scout told him that Smith was the best unsigned senior in the area at midseason.
Hunter played basketball a season ago, but spent this winter focusing just on baseball, said Scott.
He works hard in practice and in the offseason, he said. Hunter isn’t a vocal leader, but leads by example. He’s a great kid who is good for team morale and makes good grades in the classroom, the coach said.
“As good of a pitcher as he is, he’s an even better person,” said Scott.
As for what makes Smith effective, the coach said it is the pitcher’s ability to keep his emotions in check. Hunter doesn’t get too excited when the batter gets a hit or his defense makes an error. He can focus on the next pitch and not let problems compound.