Casey Smith / Providence Christian
2019 Baseball Coach of the Year
>> Background: Smith was in his sixth year as head coach at Providence Christian (2014-current) after leading Montgomery Academy three seasons (2011-2013). He has a career record of 155-129, which includes 116-79 at PCS. A Cottonwood graduate, he played two years each at LBW and Troy before playing seven years (2002-07) in the Los Angeles Angels minor league organization and one year (2008) in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, reaching as high as AAA.
>> 2019 stats: The Eagles finished with a 30-9 record and won the Class 3A state championship, the first state crown in PCS baseball history. The 30 wins is a school record.
>> Thoughts on being Dothan Eagle Baseball Coach of Year: Very appreciative. Humbled. I feel like you give it to the coach of the year, but it is a team award. We would not have been successful without my other coaches, doing what they do, and the kids for trusting us to put them in positions to be successful.
>> What were your preseason goals? I thought we had a chance to be pretty successful. The state championship is always the goal, but without experience (of playing in one), you never know for sure, and obviously, you don’t know what other teams in 3A are going to look like. I told the guys all the time – and I had to do this, too – to just focus on each day. I didn’t want to regret any day we had that we could have gotten better.
>> What dynamics of the team made it special? These kids played together even before seventh grade. They genuinely care about each other. We were a really good team in the sense of how we got along. There was no individualism on the team. Even the kids who didn’t play as much were outstanding teammates.
>> Talk about the midnight practice on the first day of practice? Yeah, 12:01. They mentioned it leading up the week, “12:01 first day, we are going to go hit.” I laughed it off. It came and Sunday (the day before), 7:30, 8:30 at night, they are like, “Coach are you going to let us in? We will be there 12:01, ready to hit.” Sure enough, lo and behold at 12:01, I don’t know how many were out there, but it was a team full. I threw them BP for an hour.
>> What were thoughts about the kids doing that? Honestly, I wasn’t surprised. Knowing the kids, knowing it was their turn to be the leaders – the seniors and juniors who are so close – I was not surprised at all who came. It is their mentality.
>> When did you feel this team could win a state title? When we played Auburn (3-2, nine-inning win on Feb. 22) and played them the way we did, finding out they threw their No. 1 against us was probably the turning point for everyone. We didn’t have a lot of hits, but like we preach, you don’t have to have a lot of hits if you pitch and play defense well. We made some great plays on defense and Grayson (Stewart) and Will (Solomon) pitched great. We did all the little things right.