Two best friends commit to D1

Juniors Martin and Smith take their baseball careers to the next level

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Nina Lewis

Tate Smith (23) and Walker Martin (23) embrace and share a moment after winning the State Championship.

Jaden Stone, Sports Editor

 

Young Tate Smith (23) and Walker Martin (23) celebrate after the come into score.

Eaton High School has always been known for outstanding athletes, especially on the baseball field. Being crowned state champions 12 times, the Reds have always been “the team to beat.”  The teams have been full of great players, but to get the opportunity to play at a Division One school is not always the top goal of many athletes at the high school level.  According to ncaa.org, around 2.2% of high school athletes move on to play Division One baseball.  At Eaton High School, two athletes in the class of 2023 have the chance to attend Division One universities to play baseball at the next level.  Walker Martin (23) and Tate Smith (23), two best friends, have both verbally committed to Division One schools to continue their academic and baseball careers.  

Walker Martin made his commitment to the University of Arkansas on September 17.  He said, “It is definitely one of my dream schools, but I really didn’t think I was going to go there, but once I went there it was just unbelievable so that was my overall decision.” Martin received offers from many schools to continue to play baseball at the collegiate level being known that he is ranked first in the state by PBR Colorado.  Martin said he accomplished this by, “Working hard, I have put in a lot of effort in hitting with my dad in the cage at nights.”  Martin has many goals and has accomplished many of them so far.  He was the winner of the 2021 3A State Championship in football and baseball for the Reds, won All State in his 2021 baseball season, committed to Arkansas, and is continuing to thrive in the classroom.  That is not where he looks to stop, however, he said, “The overall goal is to get drafted and play in the MLB, but I just got to play it day by day.” Baseball has always been a part of Martin’s life. He has been on the baseball diamond since he was six years old, and he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon, he said, “I love the sport because I like the success of it, it makes me want more and once you have something great happen you just want to do it again.” Martin will enter a new chapter of his life, both academically and within his baseball career. “There is going to be a lot of failure in this game, but when you finally get that successful moment it just feels so good,” he said. Martin looks forward to this new opportunity that he will have in two years, “I’m really excited to play in the SEC and just go out and compete with the best.” 

Tate Smith made his commitment more recently on October 25 to Oklahoma State University.  Smith said,  “When I got the offer I just felt joy, I was happy, and I was with my family. I knew OSU was a place I was definitely going to consider heavily, and it was one of my dream schools.  It was just happy tears because I knew all of my hard work was paying off.”  A lot of factors can play into making a decision to play at the next level.  Smith said, “You can tell the coaches care about their players and they have the best facilities in college baseball.” Smith is also ranked in PBR Colorado coming in at number four in the state, and similarly to Martin, also won state championships in both football and baseball in the 2021 seasons. He continues to work hard academically to look forward to the next step of being a Cowboy.  Obviously, Smith won’t stop there, “I want to get a degree out of the deal, but definitely, the end goal is to play in the MLB. I want to be the best pitcher of all time and that has just been my mentality anytime I lift or throw or do anything along those lines.” Beginning baseball at just four years old, Smith has always been around the game. He said, “I actually almost quit when I came to Eaton, and when I was nine I just hated it.  Then, I kind of started to pitch and I just fell in love.  I love competing and I love being able to dominate so I kind of just fell in love and knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life so I put all of my efforts into it.” Smith’s family has had a big impact, and he gives a lot of credit to them saying, “My parents have always pushed me to be my best.” 

These two student athletes may sound like they have similar stories, and that is because they do.  The two best friends, Martin and Smith have both gone down their road of recruitment together.  “We have been friends forever.  I have known him since we were in diapers.  We have always competed and tried to be better than each other and that is what pushed us to be successful together.  We always have each other’s back no matter what.” Smith said. Martin said, “We support each other by pushing each other to be the best we can in the big moments, in the weight room, or whatever it is.” Living just one cornfield apart, the two have grown up with many similar interests with the main one being baseball.  

Walker Martin (23) prepares to field a ground ball in the state title game.
Tate Smith (23) pitches in a home regular season game.