Although his senior season was cut short, Loudon High School’s Cade Smith will have the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing collegiate baseball.
Smith committed to the Maryville College Scots in September and signed his letter of intent in May.
He was also awarded the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association Academic Scholarship for Region 3.
“Yeah, I’ve been working toward it for a pretty long time,” Smith said. “When you get to high school, you get serious about it or you don’t. I got serious about it, especially my senior year even though it got shortened, and I worked really hard for that year and it ended up paying off. I committed early and that was a weight off my shoulders, but it worked out fine.”
Maryville College felt like home for Smith when he went on a visit last year.
“It was academics mostly because I know I’ll get a good education there, and that’s what I aim for,” he said. “They have really nice locker rooms, and it definitely passes the eye test looking at their field and everything. They have a really good coaching staff. I was the first commit in my class.
“About seven days or something like that after I committed, the head coach, (Cody) Church, left,” he added. “Then Coach (Clint) Helton took his place, and I was satisfied with both of them. They’re both good guys.”
Smith originally planned to attend Lenoir City High School going into his freshman year.
“When I was going into high school, I wasn’t even going to Loudon because I was going to Lenoir City and played through the summer there,” he said. “I just tried out for Loudon and made the team and transferred there about a week before school started. It was the best decision I could have ever made in my life. I’m very pleased with LHS and with all the memories I made there, especially my junior year going to state.”
Smith quickly earned his way on the varsity roster and was a reliable four-year starter for the Redskins.
“Our ability to get Cade as a freshman was a huge factor in the success that we’ve had over the last four years,” Jason Lambert, LHS head baseball coach, said. “Cade is one of the only guys that I’ve coached, especially at Loudon, that has been able to play as a true starter for all four years of his career. In fact, the funny thing is I think he started at every single position on the field at least one game in his career. He’s very reflective of his performance and is always looking for areas that he wants to improve regardless of the success that he finds on the field.”
Smith primarily played infield and was a key component in the Redskins’ deep run to the Class 2A state tournament in 2019.
“Cade has developed a very violent swing, a strong swing that’s been many years of honing his swing path,” Lambert said. “He’s got a great exit velocity on his swing and can really hit the ball hard. I really believe he would’ve easily hit over .400 this year and maybe chase some offensive records. Cade as a defender is extremely consistent. He may not be the flashiest infielder that you see, but he’s going to be one of the most consistently successful infielders that you’re going to find.”
Smith was poised to have a breakout senior year when the COVID-19 pandemic shut schools in mid-March. Loudon managed to squeeze in only four games.
“I say it’s better to burn out than fade away,” Smith said. “Going through a whole season like that and all the games just winding down, it’s a lot more sad. To have it done so sudden, it’s not ideal, but it wasn’t a heartbreaker or anything. I moved on quickly and I’m totally fine with that leading into new things. I feel bad for the guys that didn’t get to have their senior season and they’re done with baseball for the rest of their lives, but thank God I still have four more years.”
Lambert believes Smith will be able to make an impact for the Scots in his freshman season.
“I see Cade having the versatility to be able to play anywhere in the infield and would be a great third baseman,” Lambert said. “He also has great glove work and could play first base as well. I know he would prefer to play middle infield, and I would think he’s going to be very competitive in the middle infield. Cade also has experience playing the outfield as well, so I would anticipate that Coach Helton will be able to see that athleticism early and have lots of opportunities to make his way onto the field early in his career.”