For some West Valley baseball fans, the first time Zach Smits made an impression was in 2018 when he launched a bomb over the left field fence to give the Vikings an 11-10 lead at Mission College. The ball sounded gone the second it hit the bat and the Saints leftfielder never moved as he turned and watched the Smits solo shot sail between the Priuses and the Camaros in the parking lot. West Valley would eventually take a 13-12 win over their inter-district rivals, but it was the Smits HR that resonated.
Smits went on to a stellar two-year career at first base for Coach Rick Wiens and the Vikings. He capped his sophomore season with a spot on the All-Coast Conference First Team and was named the conference's Gold Glove first baseman. He finished his Viking career with a .272 average, a .356 OBP, a .414 SLG%, 65 hits, 25 RBI, 42 runs scored, six HR's - four in 2019 alone - and a .971 fielding percentage. It's no wonder New Mexico State head coach Mike Kirby sought Smits' services in Las Cruces. Smits made an immediate impact on an already-solid Aggies squad in a shortened 2020 campaign.
The former Los Gatos High School football and baseball star started 11 of NMSU's 16 games, batting .400 with 16 hits in 40 ABs, nine RBI, four doubles, 11 runs scored, a triple and, in true Gold Glove style, no errors. The Aggies won 12 out of their first 13 games to match a program high and Smits led them to their second win of the season with a 3-4, three RBI day in NMSU's 13-2 win over Texas Southern. But, it was his four-game series against Purdue-Fort Wayne where Smits showed a glimpse of his potential. It was a glimpse the Mastadons would probably rather forget.
Smits feasted on Mastodon pitching during the three-day Aggie homestand, going 10-17 with five RBI, four doubles and seven runs scored. NMSU swept the series to improve to 11-1.
His 3-4, one RBI outing led the Aggies to a 4-2 win over the Mastadons in the 2/28 series opener. Coach Kirby said, "Smits had a great night and got off to a great start early. I challenged him to get off on the right foot in his first at-bat, and he did that."
What Zach Smits started with a memorable March 2018 home run has continued in the high desert of New Mexico.