By JUSTIN RAINS
By all accounts, former Elkhart baseball standout Levi Smith had a stellar weekend.
The former Elks’ catcher spent it in Round Rock, participating in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association (THSBCA) all-star weekend.
He played in the 1A-3A all-star Saturday, batting in the clean-up spot for his team. But, it was the show he put on Friday that probably turned the most heads.
Competing in the catcher’s skills challenge — which featured players from Class 1A to 5A — Smith shined. He won the event, besting Mission Sharyland’s Tres Barrera in the finals.
The same Tres Barrera that’s signed to play at the University of Texas.
“It was great,” Smith said. “I knew a couple of kids in the 4A/5A division from playing with them in the summer, and I knew they were going to be tough. I just wanted to try and make Elkhart proud, do my best.”
Entering the event, surely no one took Smith for a slouch behind the plate. Smith signed to play at Stephen F. Austin University in February, and is expected to make an impact immediately when he gets on campus in Nacogdoches this August.
But still, this was a player headed to the University of Texas.
“It just lets me know that I can play with the best of them,” Smith said. “You always want to compete with the best players and always want to test yourself compared to other players, and it’s good to know that I can compete with other players.”
Smith continued his strong weekend on Saturday, finishing 1-for-2 at the plate with a walk. He also gunned down a baserunner who attempted to steal.
The game was a bittersweet one for Smith. When it ended, so did his high school baseball career.
A first team all-state catcher this past season for Elkhart, Smith was instrumental in helping the Elks reach the state tournament a year ago. He batted .435 this season for the Elks, who reached the regional semifinals.
“The past four years I’ve been very bless with fans, teammates, coaches and family,” he said. “There are a lot of kids that may have grown up in a tough home life and not gotten the opportunity that I have gotten these past four years, and I can’t thank everybody enough for believing in me, being there for me and giving me these opportunities.”