05/06/07 — Smeltzer forgoes buying ski equipment, may get boogie board instead

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Smeltzer forgoes buying ski equipment, may get boogie board instead

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 6, 2007 2:01 AM

At first, David Smeltzer thought about purchasing ski equipment and plenty of warm clothing to ward off cold temperatures once he headed to Blue Ridge Community College located in the mountainous range of Flat Rock.

Now the Rosewood High catcher is dreaming about boogie boards and gentle, rolling waves lapping onto the shores of posh Brunswick County beaches.

Smeltzer weighed his options and decided that Brunswick Community College, located near Shallotte, was the best place for him. Plus, BCC is starting a baseball program and will field its first team on the junior college level in 2008.

"Me and my parents talked and we figured it would be best for me to go to a new program," said Smeltzer, the 18-year-old son of Ray and Frankie Smeltzer of Rosewood. "When we got there, we talked with Coach (Robbie) Allen about the program and my situation. I like the people and it seemed like a good fit for me."

Smeltzer is one of 18 players Allen, a former Clemson standout, signed for next spring. Allen plans to carry about 27 players on the team and will hold open tryouts to fill the remaining roster spots.

Brunswick Community College is a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association Region X and competes in the Carolinas Junior College Conference at the Division I level. The school is well-known for its success in men's basketball.

Smeltzer is eager to establish a tradition in baseball.

"I think it's a great benefit for me to come in and help get everything started," he said. "A new home ... a new group of guys that hopefully we'll bond together and be a strong family."

Smeltzer grew up playing in the T-ball ranks and before long earned a spot on the Rosewood junior varsity squad. He moved up to varsity as a sophomore and split time at catcher with former Eagle standout Kyle Bunn.

After Bunn graduated, Smeltzer assumed full-time duties behind the plate. Second-year Rosewood coach Josh Smith relies on Smeltzer to call pitches and serve as the team's quarterback on the diamond.

"I like where I'm at because you can see the field and read it sort of like a quarterback does in football," said Smeltzer.

Smeltzer spent last summer with Wayne County Post 11 and gained some valuable experience. He saw bigger and stronger players, both at the plate and in the field.

"I've got to work on my footwork behind the plate and build up some strength," said Smeltzer. "I need throw around two seconds or less to second base and right now I'm at about 2.08."

Adjusting to opposing pitchers will take some work, too. Smeltzer handles the fastball pretty well and has slugged a few homers this spring. The curveball presents a challenge to him and he expects it to become a bigger obstacle once he steps onto the college scene.

Regardless, Smeltzer is excited to fulfill his boyhood dream and relishes crouching behind the plate for practice or a game.

"A lot of times you'll see some high school players not show respect for the game," said Smeltzer. "But once you get to that college level, there is more respect and you see the intensity of players going after it one hundred percent of the time.

"It's a sport that's not all about a certain player, but a group of nine guys, who could all be mediocre players, and you make a ball team."

That's what Allen has in mind.