|Pair of Wildcats are valuable in baseball and rodeo|
|Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
April 20, 2004 -- It's been a long time since Sam Smith accidentally batted left handed and ran the bases backwards during his tee-ball days.
Smith and current Sulphur Springs teammate Logan Pogue have been through the wars on the baseball field, from their sophomore years getting the first taste of varsity action until now, as they and their Wildcat teammates are hanging by a thread as far as their playoff future is concerned.
Smith is one of the team's catalysts in center field and hit leadoff for most of the season until head coach Rahn Smith made some changes late in the first half of district play. He's now batting in the third spot and seeing more RBI opportunities.
"It doesn't matter whether I hit first or third," Smith said. "I just like playing and try my hardest every at-bat and when I'm on the field."
No one can accuse Smith of not giving it his all, as he was also a starting defensive back on the football team. He also has a rather brave side to him.
Smith rides bulls in his spare time, and it's not something for the tender-hearted, as past results have included two broken ankles, elbow, ribs and collarbone. Smith has persevered through it all and was rewarded with a full scholarship to Vernon Junior College for bull riding.
Smith started riding calves when he was young and recently applied for a Professional Bull Rider's permit. He will compete in June's state finals, won last year's International Finals Youth Rodeo and will compete again in July. He already had to miss a game this season to take part in the Region V Finals in Ennis, where he finished in the Top 10 and advanced to the finals for the second straight year.
He credits his family for being role models, including parents Robert and Sharon. His father and two older brothers are local dairy farmers, his mother owns a flower shop, and his younger sister is a sophomore cheerleader.
As far as baseball is concerned, Smith has had his fair share of success, even though he's in what he calls a "slump," but as the old saying goes, "you're probably your own worst critic." He's not doing too shabby, as he has four hits in his last eight at-bats (.500 average).
Smith's 2004 season has been pretty productive, as he leads the team with 19 runs, is tied for second with 18 hits and is second in stolen bases with seven. Perhaps his most interesting number is his team-leading two home runs. They're the only two the Wildcats have hit all season, and ironically they're both against Denison. It includes the team's first district hit of the season, as Smith homered over the right field wall for the first run.
Smith and Pogue have tremendous leadership capabilities. It's something that doesn't go unnoticed.
"Sam and Logan are two hard-working kids that are fun to be around," Rahn Smith said. "You can tell what kind of background they come from by hanging around them, including their work ethic and the way they go about things.
"These guys know when to be serious and when to have a good time. They're the kind of kids you would want yours to be like, and I can't say enough good things about those two. I'd do anything for them, and they've developed into really good baseball players as well."
Pogue has been a fixture in the middle infield during his three seasons as a varsity Wildcat. He was also moved around in the batting order, going from cleanup hitter to second, where he seems to be more comfortable at the plate.
"I used to bat behind Sam and drive him in, and now we've reversed roles," Pogue said. "I'd rather bat second, because it forces me to be more patient, especially when Adam (Peugh) gets on base."
Pogue has been the team's most consistent hitter, and his batting average has hovered around the .300 mark all season. He leads the Wildcats with seven doubles, is tied for Smith for second with his 18 hits, is tied for third with 11 runs and is fourth in both RBIs (8) and stolen bases (3).
There's nothing better for a youngster than to earn his own keep, and Pogue does just that. It's the main reason he credits his father as being a big influence in his life.
"My dad stays on me hard," Pogue said. "He wants me to go to college and do better than he did. He makes me work and pay for my own things. It's going to prepare me well for when I go off on my own."
Pogue will make his father proud, as he is leaning toward attending the Fire Academy in Commerce.
Pogue also has ties with the rodeo, as he has roped calves ever since he was a young boy. He competes in the Four States High School Rodeo Association that consists of ropers from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. His uncle also owns the Sulphur Springs Livestock Sale Barn.
Fishing and hunting (ducks in particular) are what Pogue likes to do in his spare time, and he even nabbed a nine-point buck last November. He's had plenty of support from sisters Haley and Kelsy and does whatever he can to assist younger brothers Richard and Gage with their game, as they play in the pony and tee-ball leagues, respectively.
It hasn't been the season Pogue had hoped for, but he said he'll carry plenty of lessons with him from the diamond.
"Pride is what I'll take with me for sure," Pogue said. "I'm leaving here with eight other guys, most, if not all, who are from here. We're all pretty much friends."