Whether it was playing with his local t-ball team, going to a game or following the careers of major leaguers, Tanner Smith has always been connected to the sport of baseball.
“I’ve always been around the game,” says Smith. “Baseball became my love over time.”
The Servite High School senior has patrolled the outfield for the varsity Friars since he was a freshman and enjoys everything about this “game in his heart.”
“Being competitive, playing with such amazing people I’ve gotten to play with through my years at Servite,” says Smith. “It just makes me love the game more and more each day.”
The three-year starter completed his junior year as one of three players to play in every game for the Friars. He led the team with 32 hits and 20 walks, finishing the season with a .340 batting average and a .475 on-base percentage. These stats garnered Smith a 1st Team All-Trinity League selection and the admiration of the coaching staff.
“What I appreciate about Tanner is that he truly wants to win and is upset when we don’t,” says Servite varsity baseball head coach, Shawn Gilbert. “Tanner has improved his work ethic over the past year and it has shown. He wants to be the best player he can possibly be and is striving to get better each and every time out.”
As a captain on the team, Smith’s goal is to stand out as a leader and bring out the best in his teammates, even working to prepare scouting reports on pitchers the team will face. He sees the challenge of overcoming the failure that is inherent in baseball as both his biggest task and his largest lesson.
“It all depends on how [quickly] you get over that failure and how [quickly] you find your solution,” says Smith. “The quickest ones to get back up and get over that hump…are going to be the most successful. Carrying that over off the field, it’s going to help me no matter what.”
The Newport Beach resident spends time extending a helping hand to those in need through the Ronald McDonald house, as well as a member of the Red Cross Club on campus.
Smith is already committed to the University of Oregon, his “dream school” since he was young, where he will take the diamond for the Ducks, alongside studying sports marketing.
With parents who have been by his side supporting him since the t-ball years, and exposure to a number of motivational coaches, Smith uses his role models, along with his faith, to prepare him for his next steps.
“At Servite…the number one is the faith, and to make sure you’re set in [your] faith before you even step onto the field,” says Smith. “To have the Lord on my side throughout the game is so amazing.”