April 15, 2002
Junior Nate Smith has a lot to prove to himself and his teammates during the 2002 season. The 6-1, 185 pound pitcher has a strong hunger to make a comeback from shoulder surgery that caused him to miss the 2001 season.
Smith also has a strong hunger for good food that his teammates and friends tease him about constantly. Next to baseball, Smith’s favorite hobby is food.
“I’m always wanting to go out to eat or to the grocery store,” Smith said. “I’m not a picky eater at all. I love steak. That’s probably my favorite. Whenever I’m bored, I eat. I can never gain any weight, though.”
Smith’s appetite for food matches his craving to comeback strong this season. After watching the latter part of the 2000 season and all of last year, Smith has worked as hard as anyone to regain the arm strength to be able to make a strong contribution to this year’s ballclub.
After being named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week (April 1), Smith is certainly off to a great start and is showing signs of being the pitcher that the coaching staff hoped he would be.
Smith guided the Buckeyes to a 9-0 win over Harvard at the Homestead Challenge and a 9-2 victory over Northwestern. Smith pitched 14 innings and struck out 14 batters to get his first two wins of the season. He went seven innings and struck out six batters (all in the first three innings) while walking just one while giving up just two hits against Harvard. Against Northwestern, he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and held opposing batters to .048 average while fanning eight.
“I was really surprised at that,” Smith said. “I never thought a kid like me from the small town of Bryan, Ohio would ever get (Big Ten) pitcher of the week.”
Prior to the season, Smith’s teammates were well aware of the importance of Smith’s health and leadership as he was voted co-captain by his teammates.
“That really meant a lot to me,” Smith said. “The fact that I sat out all of last year and still have the confidence from my teammates makes you feel really good and boosts your confidence too.” Sitting out the 2001 season, Smith made the most of the situation. Though he wasn’t able to compete, he did anything to help his teammates and himself. Whether it was helping his fellow pitchers prepare or watching and learning what pitches to throw when, Smith’s head was always in the game.
Now healthier and wiser, Smith plans to make some adjustments on the mound.
“I used to throw hard all the time before I realized you can’t throw it by everyone in this conference,” Smith said. “I’ve really worked on my two-seam fastball to go with a hard-slider and change-up.”