Smithwick, Kent among nationally ranked players after record-breaking month

Brody Denevan, staff writer

It is rare for a high school baseball team to have a player who is nationally ranked. Oxford High School is lucky enough to have not one, but two. 

With the start of the 2023 Oxford baseball season, catcher Campbell Smithwick and shortstop Reid Kent have shown out on the field, both being nationally ranked. 

Head coach Cade Hoggard talked about the significance that both players bring to the team and in the starting lineup.

“They are both table setters. Last year, Campbell was at the top of the lineup. He’s a guy that has his own base percentage that is insanely good. But you’ve got Reid protecting him behind him,” Hoggard said. “You have to pick your poison. If you are gonna pitch to Campbell or if you’re gonna pitch to Reid. They have handled it very well.”

Hoggard also added on not only what they have done for each other, but what these two players have brought to the locker room and team culture.

“They are great players. That’s the thing. They don’t take days off. They take their preparation very seriously, which trickles down amongst the rest of the team,” Hoggard said. “They do a very good job of that. They bring intensity and effort to every practice. Those two guys are leading in that category as well.”

Campbell Smithwick is one of the most highly recruited high school baseball players in the country. The 2023 catcher is committed to the University of Mississippi to continue his athletic career.

Smithwick began the season red hot. He was ranked eighth in batting average (.786), twelfth in home runs (3), fourth in slugging percentage (1.333), and twenty-first in on base percentage with (.818).

“It’s cool to hear, but really it doesn’t matter at the end of the day. All that matters is how many games we win at the end of the season,” Smithwick said. “We’ve started pretty well and now we’re about to start getting into district play, and that’s where the real season starts to happen. I feel like we got off to a good start and I’m excited to see it continue. ”

Joining Smithwick is shortstop Reid Kent. He is another player in the lineup that  has also been on a tear of his own after dealing with injuries for the last two seasons.

Kent is ranked tenth in batting average (.778), fifth in RBIs (15), and fifteenth in slugging percentage (1.333). 

“It means a lot and it is really awesome being nationally ranked,” Kent said. “At the same time, we have to stay away from statistics and keep our mind on the goal, which is to win a state championship.”

Kent touched on  how they lead off the lineup, and their approach that will set the tone for their teammates and the rest of the game.

“It is huge for our team. We both fight our way on base and give . My mindset coming up to the plate is the same no matter what situation we are in. Focusing in on Campbell’s at-bat before me helps me in being selectively aggressive and it helps me see what pitches that the guy on the mound likes to throw,” Kent said. “I’ll sit back and drive the off-speed pitches the other way.”

Hoggard believes that their attitude towards the team has made them great leaders and made everyone successful.

“They were leaders in the fall and they are leaders now. Evenwhen   Reid was out with injury,  he was the guy that was out there working. I remember him taking ground balls on a back brace. That’s just who they are. I think even if they were batting lower, you would still see the leadership coming out of them,” Hoggard said. “That just speaks to what kind of kids they are. I think the success has trickled down to everyone. It’s something that has been around well before the first pitch was ever thrown.”