Mark Carroll

Denham Springs High coach Mark Carroll talks with base runner Reese Smith during a pitching change.

DENHAM SPRINGS -- There wasn’t ever a doubt Denham Springs High School sophomore Reese Smith wanted to play baseball in college with hopes of eventually playing professionally.

Over the course of the past several years, when Smith’s father Todd asked his son about his plans in life, Reese’s response was automatic.

“I watched the (Major League Baseball) guys on TV, that’s what I wanted to do the rest of my life,” Reese Smith said. “My dad would tell me baseball doesn’t last forever, you better have something to do when you get out. When he asked what I wanted to do be when I grew up, I told him I wanted to play baseball.”

Without a varsity start to his credit, Reese Smith has positioned himself to achieve the first part of his objective after a recent commitment to UL-Lafayette following a showcase tournament with the Louisiana Knights Black in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Smith, a projected starter at second base next spring for the Yellow Jackets, also had an offer from Spring Hill.

“I just felt at home with them,” Smith said. “I’ve been to a lot of their games and I really like what they’ve done to their campus. I’ve talked to a bunch of the players and they like it. It felt like home and I’m close to my family. It just felt right.”

Denham Springs coach Mark Carroll said he’s excited about the prospect of a middle infield next season with Smith and senior shortstop Cade Doughty, an LSU commitment.

“That could be a pretty strong middle infield,” Carroll said. “They’re both excited about playing together. His (Smith) instincts are pretty good and he’s going to get in front of it, catch it or knock it down, and pick it up and throw you out as best he can.”

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Smith, a starter at shortstop on the junior varsity a year ago, explained his varsity role, which included some pinch-running duties.

“I wanted to challenge the guys and work as hard as they did,” he said. “I was obviously trying to start, but once I saw they had more talent, it made me work a little bit harder. I just wanted to challenge the guys (middle infielders), to make them push themselves because I knew they could go somewhere.”

Smith’s enjoyed an extensive travel ball career, and this summer, in addition to starting for the DSHS Metro League team, he’s playing in a tournament this weekend in Lake Charles and will also play in upcoming events in Atlanta and Jupiter, Fla.

“Playing with them has put me in front of a lot of people that I needed to get in front of,” Smith said of the La. Knights.

Smith estimated he's known UL-Lafayette assistant coach Jeremy Talbot for 1½ years, and Talbot was on hand the final day in Hattiesburg to get a glimpse of Smith in action.

While other schools such as Florida, Virginia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Alabama expressed interest, Smith said there was undeniable sense of comfort with Talbot and the thought of being able to play within a close proximity to his home.

Smith said he also received a ringing endorsement about the UL-Lafayette program from Cajuns sophomore pitcher Brock Batty, a former DSHS standout.

“I remember talking to coach Talbot, going home and calling him the next day because that’s where I wanted to go to school,” Smith said. “Brock and I are close. He text me that the coaches wanted me to be a part of the family and be a Ragin’ Cajun and I wanted that also."