Shane Smith possesses a wide array of skills that has impressed coaches at Marywood University as his high school career at Old Forge winds down.
The most remarkable fact about Smith may well be that he occupies two distinctive positions for the Blue Devils.
Always seeing the entire field as the starting catcher keeps Smith on his toes, but it plays into his strength as a third-year starter behind the plate.
What may be more surprising is that Smith is in his second year as the starting catcher for Old Forge, and has delivered the goods on the defensive side of the game.
“It’s what gives us the best chance to win,” Old Forge head coach Tony DiMattia said. “He’s a throwback. He’s one of those guys that could have played when I played. He brings an energy that a lot of other players today don’t bring.”
The high-octane Smith has done that well this season for Old Forge, ranking among the leaders in hits and runs scored in Division IV of the Lackawanna League.
The Marywood-bound Smith is tied for fourth in runs scored with 12 runs, an indication he has been getting on base and 0been a menace to opposing teams.
He also is tied for second place in hits, where Smith’s 16 hits trail only teammate Ben Grochowski, who has 18 entering the week’s action.
“I put him in the leadoff spot because he’s aggressive, and his on-base percentage is off the charts,” DiMattia said. “He has a way of getting on base and giving us the opportunity to score runs.”
The longer Smith is atop the lineup card, the better he seems to play. He has been savvy enough to keep learning about the position.
“He was batting leadoff last year, and I really think it helped him this year,” DiMattia said. “Last year, he probably would have batted second, but the reason why he didn’t is that (Joey) Gutowski got hurt. We were forced to move guys around.”
Instead he batted first, and started to set the tempo both last year and this year for a Blue Devils team looking to make a run at the District 2 Class 2A title later this month.
“He’s a confident kid, he’s very aggressive, and he gets us rolling right from the top,” DiMattia said.
Smith didn’t think too much about the switch, since he has pretty much always found himself batting high in the order and playing defensively up the middle.
“It’s not hard to me because I’ve always been a top-of-the-line batter since Little League and I started catching in Little League,” Smith said. “I caught my sophomore year, picked it up and I’ve done that ever since.”
“I was the backup catcher to Jerry Hobbs my freshman year, then he was moved to the field my sophomore year and I took the role of starting catcher and kind of ran with it.”
Smith has played in the middle of the field for so long, it made him quickly understand what an impact he could have, both on and off the field.
“(I have) a leadership role. Other than catcher, I’ll play middle infield or outfield, and taking control of the team, telling people where to go and where they should be; all of the basics,” Smith said.
DiMattia knows how much Smith has meant to his program, watching Smith contribute to the Blue Devils in a variety of ways. What Smith did with his opportunity to lead has been nothing short of being remarkable, and those who have watched him closely have seen a high standard Smith has set for future players to emulate.