Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina senior Matt Smith was today named the Southern Conference Baseball Player of the Week for games played April 17-23. Splitting time between both centerfield and first base, Smith paced a strong offensive week for the Catamounts as WCU batted .378 collectively as a team in posting a 3-1 record to move back to .500 overall and back into second place in the conference standings.
Selections are made by the league office from nominations submitted by the media relations office of each conference school.
Later on Monday evening, Smith was also named the SoCon Baseball Player of the Week by College Sports Madness (collegesportsmadness.com).
Smith is the third Catamount to earn weekly accolades from the SoCon, joining outfield counterpart Bryson Bowman who collected player of the week plaudits back on April 3 and senior LHP Bryan Sammons who has been honored twice, earning the weekly pitching award in mid-March and student-athlete of the week recognition in early March.
The weekly honor is the second of Smith's four-year career as he also collected player of the week accolades as a sophomore in early April, 2015.
Smith collected hits in all four games last week including two multi-hit games. The Fredericktown, Ohio, native hit .571, slugged 1.143, and had an impressive on-base percentage of .700 as the Catamounts swept VMI after a midweek loss at Gardner-Webb. Smith hit two home runs and two doubles, walked three times, and was hit by three pitches. He scored five runs and drove in nine. He struck out just once in 20 plate appearances on the week.
Against the Runnin' Bulldogs on Wednesday, Smith was 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored as WCU fell 7-5. The center fielder was on base three times, also drawing a walk and being hit by a pitch, and he stole his 10th base of the season.
After spending the bulk of the season as the starting center fielder, Smith returned to the infield where he was an All-Southern Conference performer a season ago to anchor the WCU defense at first base over the weekend. He was a part of turning three double-plays in the series sweep of VMI. Smith went 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored in Friday's series opener against the Keydets, and followed that up with three hits including a career-high tying two homers, and a career-best seven RBIs in game two, which started Friday and finished Saturday after being suspended due to inclement weather. Smith reached base five times in the game, all in the first six innings of the 19-3 win.
In Saturday's finale, he reached on a single and was hit by a pitch, scoring a run as Western Carolina picked up a 10-5 win that made head coach Bobby Moranda the winningest coach in school history.
Smith is amidst a second double-digit reached base safely streak this season which currently stands at 20-straight games including an active seven-game hitting streak. He currently leads the team with 41 RBI, a mark that ranks third in the SoCon.
Western Carolina (19-19) returns to action with a pair of midweek nonconference home games against Savannah State at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 6:00 pm with Wednesday's game slated for a special 4:00 pm start time.
Prior to first pitch on Tuesday, Western Carolina will honor head coach Bobby Moranda with a special pregame ceremony to celebrate his 303rd career victory, which moved him into first-place in program history as the school's all-time winningest head coach. Former WCU head coach, the legendary Jack Leggett, is scheduled to be on-hand to help commemorate the accomplishment.