Tracy Smith looking to “bury” championship demons at ASU
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Sun Devil head baseball coach Tracy Smith openly admitted that he didn’t know a whole lot about the Arizona State baseball program. Prior to his arrival with the Sun Devils, Smith split the last 18 years coaching the Miami University [Ohio] and Indiana University baseball programs.
As soon as Smith took the field at Phoenix Municipal Stadium and saw the billboard out in right field with the Sun Devils’ five national championships blazen across it, he realized he was standing on hallowed ground.
Arizona State hasn’t won a national title in baseball since 1981. That’s something that Smith is determined to fix.
“It’s been a long time, a national championship,” Smith said. “Specifically, we want to play the game the right way, every single day and not put the cart before the horse.”
“If we do what we’re supposed to be doing in recruiting, and we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing in our coaching and development of our kids [and] you couple that with this environment and this tradition,” Smith said. “You’ve gotta be good, but you gotta be lucky too, but you put yourself in a position to advance.”
“Hopefully we can knock off and bury some of those demons that I’ve been hearing about ever since I took this job,” Smith said.
Smith’s one-sheet is full of accomplishments. He’s got over 600 wins in his career, he’s taken Miami [Ohio] and Indiana on multiple trips to the NCAA Regionals and he also took the Hoosiers to the 2013 World Series. Smith has seen 54 of his players get selected in the MLB Draft and perhaps more importantly than all that, between 2008-10, Smith’s Academic Progress Rate as a head coach hit a perfect 1000.
Smith clearly knows how to make a mark on baseball programs and how to leave a lasting impression in the lives of the young men he’s been entrusted with for almost two decades. He’s trying to continue these types of traditions in Tempe, Ariz., with the Sun Devil family.
“We just keep talking about having an identity of ‘What’s our team gonna be?’ and ‘What’s our company policy gonna be?’” Smith said. “When people watch us play, what are they gonna walk away and say? I think that’s the biggest thing right now, is we want to have a staple of how we play and it’s consistent, win, lose or draw and something that will carry on, not just from year one but all the subsequent years.”
One thing that will certainly work in the favor of the program is the immaculate facilities they’ve inherited at Phoenix Muni. Taking a tour of the outside grounds, the locker room and even the alumni locker room shows how important the Arizona State baseball program truly is, because everything is spotless and in its right place.
When you care enough about the program and its players to give them first-class amenities, they’ll play and think like champions, which Smith is hoping they do starting Friday night when the fifth-ranked and Big 12 champion Oklahoma State Cowboys come to town to officially kick off the season.
“I’ve seen it first hand, the programs I’ve had before were literally at a glorified high school field and then we built a stadium and you see the mentality changed,” Smith said. “I think the same thing is happening here. Not that they didn’t like Packard [Stadium], it’s just that this is a step up and you can see it. There’s an aura of professionalism and it just kind of changes your mindset on a daily basis.”
“I’m excited because I’ve never seen this group play,” Smith said. “The guys that I’ve been working with and been a part of for the last six [or] seven months, I’m excited to see them put on a uniform and play somebody in that dugout [Oklahoma State] that has another uniform on and then see what characteristics come out of that.”
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