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RHS baseball standout Nick Smith signs with Martin Methodist College

It was a busy week at Russellville High School as the 2020-21 academic year came to a close. Just before graduation, senior baseball third baseman Nick Smith was honored with a college signing ceremony.

Smith, a key member of the 2021 AHSAA Class 5A state championship-winning Golden Tiger team, will continue his playing days after signing with head coach Mitch Hill and the Martin Methodist College Redhawks of Pulaski, Tenn.

A large group of supporters celebrated the signing at RHS May 27 at RHS with Smith and his family, including his parents Vincent and Kim and younger brother Noah.

“He’s grown a lot,” said Russellville head coach Chris Heaps. “He’s grown a lot as a player here, he’s grown a lot as a hitter, he’s grown a whole lot as a third baseman, but I’m more proud of what kind of young man he is. He’s first class.”

Heaps shared a touching story of an embrace and the tears that were shed between the RHS head coach and Smith at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery after the Golden Tigers clinched the 5A state title.

“This group is very close, and that’s what I love about them,” Heaps said. “It didn’t matter how big your role was, they all supported each other, and it all starts with leadership. I’m not talking about coaches; I’m talking about the players holding each other to the standard, and Nick’s done a good job of that.”

Hill said he sees potential in the Redhawks’ newest member.

“When we look at Nick Smith, we look at someone we’re going to bring in to develop even more than he already is,” Hill explained. “He’s going to be the future third baseman, and he’ll play immediately right away as he comes in, and we’ll start that development stage come this fall.”

Hill also shared the plans for Martin Methodist’s upcoming merge into the University of Tennessee system. He said the school’s new name will be UT-Southern.

Smith used hard work and skill to accomplish his goal of getting the opportunity to continue playing baseball for a college program. His work ethic paid off when he had to battle through a knee injury that took him out of the lineup in his early days on the RHS varsity team.

“It was awful,” Smith said. “I remember and can just think of the therapy right now; it was terrible. My mom, she was telling me that if I just keep working, I’ll get to where I want to go – and it’s happening.”

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