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Follow Friday Q&A with Austin Smith

Sep 3, 2020

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This is the seventh installment of the Arizona Baseball 2020 Follow Friday series, in which we highlight each member of the incoming 2020 class of student-athletes looking to make their mark at Hi Corbett Field. Get to know our newest Wildcats with the below Q&A, and when you're done be sure to follow them on social media to stay connected.

This week's feature focuses on incoming junior Austin Smith, a right-handed pitcher who most recently competed for Division III Southwestern University.

Previous editions of Follow Friday: Jacob Berry  |  Kyle Casper  |  Chase Davis  |  Riley Cooper  |  Daniel Susac  |  TJ Nichols

Q: What made you choose Arizona?
A: I felt a great connection with coach Johnson and coach Yeskie when I had the chance to talk on the phone with them during the recruiting process. Then when I was able to look at the campus, it looked like a place where I could feel at home.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most in your first year at Arizona?
A: I'm looking forward to just playing baseball, to be honest. I've already spent a lot of time with the guys and I just want to win with them; I want to get to Omaha. 

Q: What achievement from your baseball career so far are you most proud of?
A: I'm the most proud of winning (Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference) Pitcher of the Year my sophomore year at Southwestern. That was my first year being a pitcher only. My freshman year at Southwestern I came in as a third baseman and I also threw hard so they'd put me in at the back end of games as a reliever. When that year was over my coach came to me and said, "You're a better pitcher than hitter, so you're going to transition to pitcher only." Then my first year doing only pitching I win this award, and I'm very proud of that.

Q: What do you think is the strongest part of your game?
A: I think I'm a strong leader. I follow instructions from coaches well and I want everyone else to be held accountable to the same standard; nobody is greater than this, everyone should be doing what they need to do. I had to develop my leadership skills. I used to be somewhat of a small kid in high school — which is what led me to a Division III school — but there were great leaders at Southwestern that I learned from.

Q: Who influenced you to get into baseball?
A: My grandfather. When I was a little kid he was the only person in my family who had played baseball and I always had a strong connection with him, so I spent a lot of time hanging out with him playing baseball. 

Q: If you weren't playing baseball, what sport would you most want to play?
A: Probably basketball, that was my backup sport and it was something I always liked. I played right up until my freshman year of high school, then I gave it up to focus only on baseball. My dad always drew me to basketball, he is a big fan and was a starter as a freshman in high school. He tried to get me into it more, but I always had a special connection with baseball.

Q: If you could have one MLB player's pitch, what would it be?
A: Gerrit Cole's slider. The spin rate on his slider is disgusting and he tunnels all his pitches well. He throws that slider very hard and very sharp — it's my ideal pitch, so I try to master that.

Q: If you could face one Major League Baseball player right now, who would it be and why?
A: Right now I would probably want to face Fernando Tatís Jr. from the Padres. We're the same age and he's obviously one of the best hitters in the league right now so it would be pretty fun to go up against him and see what I could do.

Q: What are some of your non-baseball hobbies you enjoy spending free time on?
A: Back home in Texas I'm a big fisherman. There's a pond on my property at home so I spent a lot of time during quarantine fishing. But I'm also a big gamer, so I like to play some PS4 with my friends. Right now it's a lot of Fortnite, Call of Duty, and Fall Guys. 

Q: What does your pregame/gameday routine look like?
A: For my gameday routine I normally want to start it out with a good breakfast, nothing too heavy if I know I'll be pitching. Then I try my best to relax up until about an hour before the game, which is when I'll start listening to my music and getting locked in and starting my warmup. My music taste is all over the place — I'm from Texas so I like country, but at the same time I also like EDM because it gets me hyped.

BONUS Q: Looking back on the no-hitter you were a part of this summer with the Round Rock Hairy Men, what was that experience like and what is it like contributing to a performance like that?
A: That was a great experience. I was out there with a bunch of dudes and it was our first time playing baseball in what felt like forever, so we were just excited to be out there playing in the first place. The kids that I did that with, Trent Baker and Carter Poulson, we were all really excited to be pitching in that game regardless because I'm pretty sure they had just beaten us and we were ready to make our playoff push. So doing that with those guys in that situation was a fun experience.
Quick Hits:
Favorite baseball player: Gerrit Cole
Favorite MLB team: Colorado Rockies
Favorite baseball movie: Bad News Bears
Favorite gameday snack: Barbecue chips
Favorite TV show: Parks and Recreation (Favorite character: Ron Swanson)
Favorite movie: Step Brothers