Mundy’s Mill senior infielder Rodney Smith was named the Region 4-AAAAA Player of the Year by the region coaches after hitting .587 with 22 stolen bases. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
JONESBORO — After making a remarkable comeback in football following nearly 10 months of rehabbing a knee injury, there were a lot of high expectations for Rodney Smith entering the baseball season.
Some wondered what a year off from baseball would do to one of the top infielders in the state.
Smith didn’t seem to miss a beat this season on the diamond for the Mundy’s Mill baseball team.
And his production was well noted by the other coaches in the region. Smith, a second baseman and shortstop, was named the Region 4-AAAAA Player of the Year by the region’s coaches this week.
“As a father, it gives you a good feeling to see what other coaches think of your child,” said Mundy’s Mill coach Patrick Smith, Rodney’s father. “I’m just proud of Rodney, and what he was able to do this season.”
It might have been a line-up change that Patrick Smith made this season that benefited his son the most. Rodney was moved to the lead-off spot this season to keep opposing teams from pitching around him.
He responded by hitting .587 with 27 runs scored in 23 games for the Tigers. In addition, he had 37 hits with 10 coming as doubles and four triples. Smith, was also 22 of 23 on stolen bases.
“He did everything we asked him to do,” Patrick Smith said.
“This is a huge honor to be named player of the year, especially since we played in one of the toughest regions in state,” Rodney Smith said. “I really didn’t expect this, but I’m pleased to have received this honor.”
This marked the third time in his career that he has hit over .400 for the Tigers.
Smith missed the 2013 season after sustaining a knee injury during the 2012 football season. He spent nearly 10 months rehabbing his knee following surgery. As a sophomore in baseball, Smith batted .429 with three home runs and 16 stolen bases as the Tigers advanced to the playoffs.
There was a good indication during this past football season, that Smith was headed to a special senior season. He rushed for 2,201 yards and 26 touchdowns to make the Georgia Sportswriters Association first-team all-state team, in addition to being named the Clayton News Daily’s Offensive Player of the Year.
He signed a football scholarship with Minnesota on National Signing Day in February, but is considered a Major League Baseball Draft prospect. The MBL draft will run June 5-7, and depending on where he is selected and the contract being offered, Smith could forgo football and pursue a professional baseball career.
In addition to Smith, teammates DeMarcus Mays and Jordan Robinson were named to the honorable mention team. Mays, a senior first baseman/third baseball, hit .370 with 13 RBI and 12 hits.
Robinson, a junior outfielder, hit .444 with 28 hits, 11 RBI and scored 25 runs. He also had 24 stolen bases.
Whitewater swept the other two superlative awards with Jonathan Hendershot being voted the region’s pitcher of the year and Rusty Bennett was voted the coach of the year. Whitewater is hosting Houston County for the Class AAAAA championship on Saturday in the best-of-three series.