NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Knights’ Smoske catches fire

A year ago, Harrison Smoske had caught one game in his life. Flash forward to the end of NECC’s 2014 season, and Smoske has been the Knights full time catcher. The Burlington High graduate has impressed not only his coaches this year, but his teammates as well. His offense speaks for itself, as Smoske is hitting .349 with a homerun, 14 RBI and leads the Knights with 14 stolen bases. Entering the season, though, it was a question of how he would hold up behind the plate. For that, Smoske has done just fine.

“Honestly, I think I’m doing pretty well,” said Smoske. “Definitely after Florida I gained a lot of confidence. Our pitchers can throw, I can catch, let’s do this. It got easier.”

The effort that Smoske has put in all year hasn’t been wasted on his teammates. Despite never catching, his pitchers have found him to be a natural to throw to.

“He hasn’t caught in a while and he’s been working his butt of in practice and done a good job,” said Dan Peters, one of NECC’s sophomore pitchers. “His work ethic is phenomenal.”

Smoske has been one of the most consistent players that NECC has had this season. He slumped early in the season, going hitless in five straight games. After that, though, His batting average dipped from a season-low .143 on March 18 to a blistering .384 on April 24. In the Knights’ first conference game of the season, Smoske homered against Quinsigamond for his only four-bagger of the season.

The competition difference between high school and college was something Smoske says was minimal.

“Compared to high school, honestly, it’s been the same or a little bit worse. I saw better pitching in high school. That’s about the only difference.”

The Knights catcher has been one of the most energetic pieces of the team since Florida. His electricity on the basepaths is just a taste of what he’s normally like.

“He’s very intense and has a lot of energy,” said Peters. “He brings a lot of energy to the field and it’s fun. I like that about him, it’s funny.”

Currently, NECC sits at 16-11 and enter the NJCAA Region XXI Regional Tournament on May 9. In each of the past two years, NECC has won regionals and went down to Texas to compete in the NJCAA World Series. Smoske thinks a three-peat is inevitable.

“I think Texas is a definite. I think it’s a definite,” he said. “I don’t see us losing to Massasoit. If we have McAuliffe or Beckwith on the mound, I don’t see us losing.”