STRATTANVILLE, Pa. (EYT/D9) — All Jake Smith has known is catching.
Crouching behind the plate has been his lifestyle since he was an 8-year-old, still learning the game.
“I grew to love it,” Smith said. “I love being in charge of the whole field. It just made me want to keep doing it.”
And Smith has done it well.
An incoming junior at Clarion-Limestone, Smith was behind the plate all season for the Lions — an anchor for a team that won a first-round PIAA Class A game before falling in the quarterfinals.
Smith was just as effective at the plate as he was behind it, batting .321 for Clarion-Limestone.
But his calling card was his play on defense. Assistant coach Drew Beichner, a former catcher himself at Clarion-Limestone, has helped develop Smith’s skills.
“He’s taught me a lot,” Smith said.
So has Smith’s older brother, Ben.
Jake Smith looked up to Ben, who is four years older, while growing up. Ben also played baseball at C-L.
“I went to everything he did — baseball, football, wrestling,” Smith said. “Everything. Just watching him and how he went about his business taught me a lot. I wanted to be like him on the field and off of it, because he was also good in the classroom. Over the years, we’ve gotten even closer.”
Like his brother, Smith plays multiple sports at Clarion-Limestone, although baseball is his favorite.
Smith is also a center and middle linebacker on the Central Clarion football team and a member of the C-L basketball team.
“It’s important for me to play all those sports,” Smith said. “It keeps my body in shape and just keeps me moving all the time. I’ve been playing football since the first grade, but I just started playing basketball in the seventh grade.”
Smith hopes to play baseball in college, although his future is still up in the air.
“It’s on the table,” he said. “But it’s not really a lock. I’m not sure what I want to do after high school as of right now.”
THE SMITH FILE
NAME: Jake Smith
2021-22 HIGHLIGHTS: Was the starting catcher, batting .321 for a Clarion-Limestone baseball team that went 12-7 and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the PIAA Class A playoffs.
Q: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while playing sports?
A: To be a good leader.
Q: What do you do to handle a loss?
A: Just try to learn what the team and I did wrong throughout the game.
Q: You’re a baseball player at heart, but how excited are you for this football season at Central Clarion?
A: I think we’re well-rounded. We just need to get our offensive line going because we have some pretty good skill players.
Q: How difficult was the beginning of football season last year with COVID canceling and rescheduling several games?
A: The first week last year, we were supposed to play (Punxsutawney) and all of a sudden it was changed to Slippery Rock and we had to travel all the way out there.
Q: Without knowing a thing about them, right?
A: Yeah. Actually, right before we left for Slippery Rock, our coach said we really don’t know much about them, so he just sent us all a link to their Hudl account. We watched them in Hudl on the way down.
Q: Who would play you in a movie or TV show about your life and why would he be the perfect choice?
A: Adam Sandler because he has an amazing sense of humor and he is just really funny.