RICHMOND - The West Liberty University baseball team is picking up one of the top all-around athletes in Edison High School history with Mark Smyth signing to continue his academic and athletic careers as a Hilltopper under new head coach Eric Burkle.
"I was really looking at Muskingum because I liked their head coach and assistant coach and I was also looking at Fairmont State some," said Smyth. "What it came down to was I really liked when West Liberty switched to coach Burkle. I really liked him when I looked to go there last year.
"When they switched to him it snapped in my head that's where I should go."
WEST LIBERTY BOUND — Edison’s Mark Smyth signs to continue his academic and athletic careers at West Liberty University flanked by his sister Kim Smyth and his parents Ron and Nancy Smyth. Also in attendance were Edison head baseball coach Mike Collopy and Assistant Athletic Director JoAnn Stagani.
-- Fred Younce
The Wildcats' three-sport star will join Burkle's pitching staff, with the possibility of seeing time in the field as well.
"Coach (Jake) Stone, the guy who recruited me, talked to me about playing both ways," said Smyth. "He said if I swing the bat I'll be able to play defense and pitch so hopefully I will."
Added Edison head baseball coach Mike Collopy, "From my understanding they recruited him as a pitcher knowing he can play the field and he can hit.
"I don't know what coach Burkle has in store, but I know coach Stone had been to a lot of our games and they expressed interest in him as a pitcher without ruling out the fact he could hit."
The humble Smyth felt the decision to play baseball in college was an easy one, downplaying his ability to compete in football and basketball.
"I think that's what I'm best at is baseball," said Smyth. "It's where I had a future. I'm not athletic enough to be a basketball player and I wasn't that great at football."
It should be noted Smyth is Edison's all-time leading scorer and second-leading rebounder in basketball and holds the single-season pssing record in football.
Collopy sees Smyth's desire to compete and his dedication to playing all three sports in high school as traits that will benefit him greatly on the next level.
"He ranks up there with some of the bigger competitors we have," he said. "I think the fact he was a three-sport athlete and he never stopped is going to help him.
"When its time to getting started playing year round in college he's used to that, but the difference is he'll be able to focus on baseball. Before he was splitting his time up, which is why, when I talked with colleges about him, I said I really think his best baseball will be in college.
"During the summer there aren't many kids willing to go to Legion games, football lifting and basketball open gym. You could even look at lifting as his fourth sport. He has been extremely dedicated and I think that will serve him well in college."
As Smyth heads off to college he is grateful to the people who helped get him to this point.
"I received a lot of help from my parents and my coaches," he said. "Coach Collopy was the best coach I ever had and (Richmond Legion Post 740) coach (Sam) Davis has helped me develop a lot as well.
"My parents take me everywhere and work with me. I'd also like to thank coach Stone for his help through the recruiting process."