12/26/2014 9:23 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – Dec. 26, 2014 – Some of Fred Smart’s favorite baseball memories came while playing on travel teams during the summer months.
Knowing he is entering his final summer playing the sport, Smart wants to make the most of it. The Siena College junior is the latest addition to the 2015 Northwest Indiana Oilmen roster.
After two years at Oakton Community College, Smart is entering his first year at Division-I Siena, a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. For a native of Evanston, Ill., attending a school in Albany, N.Y. has provided a complete change of scenery.
According to Smart, the biggest difference between junior college and Division-I is opposing pitchers’ ability to reach high velocities on a more consistent basis.
“It’s exciting to be here, especially after a high school career (at Loyola Academy) where I dealt with a lot of injuries and wasn’t really getting looked at by a lot of the Division-I schools,” he said. “I knew that if I worked hard in junior college, I could get better and set myself up to play at the Division-I level.”
The Saints are coming off a 2014 season where they won the MAAC Tournament, qualified for the NCAA Regional and captured the first NCAA win in school history.
After two years in the Chicago Suburban League, Smart is excited to make the move to the Midwest Collegiate League. He is familiar with Northwest Indiana since he has family members that live in Hammond.
“I know the Oilmen get a lot of fans,” Smart said. “Coach (Adam) Enright contacted me and asked if I wanted to be on the team. I knew I wanted to play in the Midwest Collegiate League because there is good talent and good competition, and for those reasons I thought it would be a good fit to join the team.”
Although he played mostly first base last season at Oakton, Smart believes his best position is in the outfield. He moved to first base to help fill a team need, but will likely roam the outfield at Siena this spring.
Smart finished his high school career with a .370 batting average and .501 on-base percentage. He was a three-sport athlete at Loyola Academy, which is also the alma mater of former Oilman Anthony Colosimo.
Siena coach Toni Rossi has been impressed by Smart’s speed, strength and work ethic. Rossi described the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Smart as a “workaholic” and a “monster in the weight room.”
“Normally at this particular level in our program, any transfers we get in are kids that are going to start for us right off the bat,” Rossi said. “Every transfer we’ve had has done so, and we expect him to be the same way. We have a pretty big ballpark, so that is one of the reasons that we want to have his speed in the outfield.”