For Texas State pitcher Austin Smith, his 2022 season was incredible. Getting to pitch in multiple NCAA Regional games against storied programs was a dream come true, but the journey there was not a smooth ride.

An Abilene native, Smith was a baseball and football standout growing up. Even in loud atmospheres, his biggest supporter would make his presence known.

“Usually the only person I could hear in the whole stadium was my dad,” said Smith. “Everything else was tuned out, but I could always hear my dad saying ‘Let’s go 1-5’.”

Smith went to Ranger Junior College out of high school but hit some obstacles. After just two appearances in his first season, Smith suffered an injury in year two. The lefty then had a conversation with the man who knew him best.

“I told my dad this on the phone one night. I was like, I have enough confidence in myself that I can go back to junior college in one semester, and I can bounce back to where I want to be.”

After that third season with the Rangers, Smith found a home in San Marcos. His first season with the Bobcats didn’t go according to plan with the team struggling. Early that year, Austin’s father Brad passed away.

In the 2022 season, Austin had a much better run, as did his team. The lefty closed out the Bobcats’ first win in the NCAA Regionals with his dad watching over.

“I know he’s still there. When I do things like I got to do for the first time ever playing in a regional game and probably being in the coolest atmosphere I’ve ever been in, it’s hard not to think about your dad. Just be like, hey man I know that you’re not getting to watch this physically, but I know you’re up there just going crazy.”

Smith finished the 2022 season with a 2.91 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 19 appearances. He plans to return to the Bobcats for a third season next spring.