TULSA, Okla. – As Oral Roberts baseball's Harrison Smith returned to campus after spending the summer in his native California, he did so with an entirely new mentality than when he arrived in south Tulsa in the fall of 2016.
In his first season with the Golden Eagles, Smith worked primarily as a backup infielder and pinch hitter in 27 games. Late in the year, the Bakersfield, California, native made a request with the coaching staff to throw a bullpen session and quickly showed not only his velocity from the mound, but the command of a superb breaking ball.
"After my first bullpen, where I maybe threw one strike, I had to start working on my mechanics with coaches Sean Snedeker and Wes Davis. They really helped me out by simplifying the process and giving me the information I needed to become successful with pitching."
Smith made his debut on the road at Fort Wayne April 9 and closed the season by making seven appearances from the ORU bullpen totaling seven innings without allowing a single earned run. He struck out eight batters and gave up just two hits down the stretch, while picking up his first victory against rival Oklahoma State May 16 behind a pair of scoreless innings.
"My debut was an adrenaline rush to say the least. It had been a while since I stepped on the mound, so getting back up there was a little scary. I knew I had a great defense behind me that would have my back, so I did my best to go right after the batters and let them do the work," Smith added.
His confidence continued to rise throughout the year and he was even called upon to pitch in one of the nation's toughest environments with nearly 10,000 screaming fans at Baum Stadium. Late in a one-run ball game, Smith retired the only batter he faced in what turned out to be the final game of the season at nationally-ranked Arkansas during the NCAA Fayetteville Regional.
"The regional was one of the best experiences in my baseball career and was a time that I will never forget," Smith added. "Running in with all the fans yelling at me was something I have never experienced. That's a position I would love to get back into this upcoming season."
Having shown power at the plate with three home runs and six extra-base hits in 38 plate appearances, Smith adds his talents on the mound to become a more versatile player for the Golden Eagles heading into the 2018 campaign.
"It's exciting knowing that I will have the opportunity to help out my team on the field this next year," Smith concluded.
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