Methacton's Conor Smith a hit on and off the baseball field

By DAVE KURTZ

WORCESTER – Ted Williams always said that hitting a baseball was the hardest thing to do in all of sport.

The all-time Boston Red Sox great – revered as the greatest hitter of all time – was right on the money with his assessment of the difficult task. It takes precise timing, hand-eye coordination, balance and strength to barrel-up a baseball.

While there is always room for improvement, Methacton junior Conor Smith has shown that he knows what he’s doing with a bat in his hands.

“I think Conor’s ability speaks for itself given the success that he’s had for us offensively over the past two seasons,” said veteran Methacton coach Paul Spiewak. “I am most proud of the strides that Conor has made defensively, which, in my opinion, did not come as naturally to him as hitting.”

Smith, recently named to the 2018 All Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division first team as an infielder, put together some impressive numbers at the plate this past spring, leading the Warriors to playoff berths in the PAC Final Four and District 1-6A playoffs.

Smith compiled a .441 batting average, .712 slugging percentage and .460 on-base percentage, leading to an eye-popping 1.172 OPS. Among his 26 hits were nine doubles, two triples and one home run, accounting for 18 RBI and 15 runs scored.

“I took hitting lessons when I was young with a guy named Johnny Schultz,” said Smith, who plays in the summer and fall for All-Star Baseball Academy and Steve VanNote. “He plays independent ball for the Evansville Otters now.

“I went to him for a year or two and he basically taught me how to swing a baseball bat. Aside from that, I go to the cage a couple times a week to maintain my swing and work on things.”

That repetitive work has obviously reaped benefits and the stats indicate baseball may be in his genes. But for the son of Jennifer and Harvey Smith of Audubon, that is not exactly the case.

“My father played lacrosse in college at Brown University,” said Conor, a member of Methacton’s PAC championship basketball team this past winter. “I’ve always looked up to him as an athlete and he’s pushed me to become the athlete and man I am today. Both of my siblings also play lacrosse. However I just picked up a bat first and stuck with it.”

His success goes beyond the baseball diamond and gym. Conor also excels in the classroom, where he has posted a cumulative weighted GPA of over 100, holds down a Student Ambassador position and has been the recipient of the Academic ‘M’ Award and named to the All-PAC Academic team (basketball, 2017-18 season).

“Conor is the perfect example of what it means to be a successful student-athlete,” Spiewak said. “He places his work in the classroom first and works really hard to succeed on the basketball court and on the baseball field as a secondary priority.” 

With basketball running a close second to baseball, Smith has focused on playing baseball in college, using hoops to hone and expand his his athletic skills.

“I love playing basketball and it helps keep me in shape,” said Conor, who cut his teeth playing at the Audubon Recreation Association from tee-ball to U-12. "I think it’s important to play more than one sport to show your versatility.”

Smith, who lists hitting a grand slam against archrival Perkiomen Valley this past spring as an individual highlight, is no stranger to hard work. The sweet-swinging, left-handed hitter has spent countless hours in the weight room pumping iron to improve his strength and stamina.

“Other players can see how the hard work and dedication in the weight room and on the ball field has paid off for Conor,” said Spiewak, “so he is able to lead by example in that sense.

“The sky is really the limit for Conor.  Being that he is currently only a junior, I project an even bigger, stronger, and more talented Conor Smith in his senior season.”

That would be a scary proposition for PAC pitchers and coaches.

“Conor has worked hard and turned himself into an outstanding second baseman and we know that we can count on him to play the outfield for us as well in situations where our team would benefit,” Spiewak said.

“As one of the more popular athletes within our baseball program at Methacton, Conor has that rare ability to be able to joke around and have a good time while understanding full well when it is time to get serious and focus on the team and individual tasks at hand in order to reach full potential.”

That vast potential should lead Smith to a baseball future at the next level.

“I see Conor as having the opportunity to play high level college baseball at a University/College that excels both academically and athletically,” Spiewak said. “I have no doubt that he will continue to grow academically and athletically, but above all, he will continue to be a great person, classmate, and teammate who has a positive impact on our school building each and every day.”