New Harding Academy baseball coach Alex Smith is not a stranger to the school.

Smith, who is trading places with former head coach Shane Fullerton, has been an assistant at the Searcy private school since the 2014-15 school year.

Fullerton took a step back to become associate athletic director for the school while still being involved with the baseball program, which he led to three state championships.

Smith is a graduate of Harding University, where he played four seasons for the Bisons. He was also a graduate assistant for the Bisons before going to Harding Academy as Fullerton’s assistant.

“Being Coach Fullerton’s assistant has really allowed me to watch somebody do it right,” Smith said. “You want your guys to play hard. You want your guys to have fun. Watching Coach Fullerton be able to do those things in years past has been just a treat for me.

“So those are kind of the same things that I’m implementing this year with my guys. We’re going to play hard. We’re going to have as much fun as we possibly can. And along the way, we’ll try to do things right. I think that is just a great recipe for success. I want to make these players into better men.”

The Wildcats have only 14 players with no seniors this season.

“We are a little bit down this year with only 14 guys, but we have a couple of big classes coming up,” Smith said.

Smith is originally from Angelton, Texas, about 35 miles south of Houston. He has played baseball all his life.

“I wasn’t talented enough to go D-1 but I was still wanted to go play,” he said. “That was my passion. I was committed to Ouachita Baptist in Arkadelphia. Their coaches took the job at UALR. They said they didn’t have any money to get me into UALR but they got me in contact with Harding coach Patrick McGaha. I came up and threw a bullpen for them. Coach McGaha offered me on that day, and I become a Bison.”

Smith pitched four years for the Bisons.

Smith is engaged to Madeline Schmidt, who is an occupational therapist in Conway. They will be married this summer.

Smith’s Wildcats are scheduled to play Paragould in a benefit scrimmage game Tuesday at Harding Academy. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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