Sunday, May 27, 2018
Sports

Casey Smit is FSU baseball's Mr. Versatile

TALLAHASSEE — When Casey Smit comes to the ballpark on game days, the former Tampa Alonso High standout isn't sure where he will play.

Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin typically has Smit slotted somewhere on the lineup card. The only debate seems to be where the versatile senior is needed.

Once a walk-on — and a long shot to make the Seminoles in the fall of 2012 — Smit is now an integral part of FSU's team. He has started at shortstop and first base, in leftfield and at designated hitter this season.

"I've always been a utility player," Smit said. "Anywhere I can get on the field, it doesn't really matter to me as long as I get to play."

Smit has four gloves in his locker, one for each infield position. And if he's called on to play in the outfield, he will just borrow a teammate's glove.

That versatility has made him crucial to the Seminoles (41-14), ranked No. 4 by Baseball America, who open play in the ACC tournament Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C., as the No. 2 seed. The pool also includes Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and North Carolina State. FSU, which opens against the winner of Tuesday's North Carolina-N.C. State play-in game, is also a near lock to host one of 16 NCAA region tournaments on the final weekend of May.

In many ways, that's because of Smit's contributions. Even without a regular home in the field, Smit is hitting .303 with 23 runs and 23 RBIs. He has reached base in eight straight games, and his .444 on-base percentage is second on the team and among the top 10 in the ACC.

Smit, 23, was a longtime FSU fan and said many of his family went to school there. A former star at the College of Central Florida, Smit took a break from baseball before enrolling at FSU in the fall of 2012.

In 2013, he made 25 starts (19 at first base, three at second and three at third) while hitting .299. This year he has jumped in to play whenever he has been needed again. When shortstop Justin Gonzalez had the flu, Smit started four games, hit .471, had the winning single in a 12-inning win over Notre Dame and was named ACC player of the week on April 7.

For Smit, the journey from walk-on to standout for one of the nation's top five teams has been rewarding.

"I'm very appreciative for being given the opportunity," Smit said. "For things to have worked out the way they did, I've been blessed."

Smit graduated with a degree in criminology a few weeks ago and hopes to extend his FSU baseball career a few more weeks. A return to the College World Series is a distinct possibility for FSU, despite injuries to pitchers Brandon Leibrandt and Bryant Holtmann and position players DJ Stewart and Gonzalez.

"It's the goal of every college baseball player to get to Omaha," Smit said. "That would be a great experience for everybody. Our hard work would pay off, and everyone would see the struggles we've gone through, the injuries, would be worth it. The CWS is our ultimate goal."

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