Red Hawks’ Smith named National Pitcher of the Week

Red Hawks’ Smith named National Pitcher of the Week

HICKORY, N.C. — Catawba Valley Community College sophomore baseball player Julian Smith was named the National Pitcher of the Week at the Division II level by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) on Thursday.

Smith is the first Red Hawk baseball player to receive a national weekly honor since Craig Zalewa was named Player of the Week on Feb. 15-21, 2016, and Smith is the first Red Hawk pitcher to be awarded since Bryce Hensley earned the same honor for the week of April 6-12, 2015.

"It feels great being named with those guys that have been here before," Smith said of his honor. "It's always good to get recognized, but I just went out there and did my job and tried to give my team the best chance to win the game."

Smith, who missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, returned with a bang this past fall, impressing scouts with his 94 mile per hour fastball.

On Oct. 3, 2017, Smith committed to play baseball at N.C. State University after his sophomore season at Catawba Valley, and he signed with the Wolfpack on Nov. 9, 2017.

During his first outing of the season for Catawba Valley on Feb. 8, Smith allowed one walk and struck out nine batters in four innings of work.

He followed that performance up on Saturday with a five-inning, nine-strikeout performance against Walters State in which he gave up just two hits, one walk and struck out nine batters.

"I felt good out there, but I think this is just a reflection of the work we've put in as a team in the offseason and leading up to today," Smith said of Saturday's pitching performance, which helped earn him Pitcher of the Week honors.

Catawba Valley pitching coach and recruiting coordinator Kris Harvey has been pleased with what he's seen from Smith in two outings this season.

"I'm happy for him," Harvey said of Smith. "He's coming off not really pitching for two years and coming off surgery. To come out with the adjustments he's made and as hard as he's worked to kind of finally get everything together, it was really nice to see. In the first two innings, he had all of his stuff or at least two plus pitches. His change up is coming along. He's done really well at competing in the zone and not being afraid of anybody."

Smith returns to the mound for the first seven-inning game of a doubleheader on Saturday against USC Union starting at 1 p.m.

The Red Hawks return to the baseball diamond on Friday for a 4 p.m. nine-inning game against USC Union at Henkel-Alley Field. The game was originally scheduled to be played on Sunday, but was moved up due to inclement weather.