Not taking a break from athletics is nothing new for Smackover’s Tanner Mitchell.
After playing baseball for much of the summer, Mitchell hit the gridiron to lead the Bucks to the playoffs.
But it’s on the baseball diamond where Mitchell will focus full time, and he won’t be traveling far to play collegiately.
Earlier this week, Mitchell signed with South Arkansas College, becoming the second Union County standout to sign with the Stars after El Dorado’s Jonah Davis.
“I love the coaching and I feel like they are going to make me the best player that I can be and get me to the places I want to go,” Mitchell said of signing with SouthArk.
“I had gotten a text by coach (Cannon) Lester, and he wanted to come watch me play one weekend. After he watched me play, he offered me after the game.”
Mitchell, who was the News-Times Player of the Year after hitting .420 with three home runs, 14 RBIs and 41 stolen bases, said he wanted to sign early to focus on his senior season.
“I felt like if I went ahead and signed, I would have less stress and be able to play the game loose and to the best of my abilities,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell added that he is undecided on what he wants to study in college.
“I think I will probably just do the basic studies while I’m at SouthArk,” Mitchell said.
While some players have the fall to focus on particular aspects of their game, Mitchell was busy with football, so he is now just starting to turn his attention to baseball.
“I didn’t really have an offseason,” Mitchell said. “I had played baseball all summer and then jumped right into football. Right after football, I jumped right into baseball again.”
Mitchell added that playing football has played a key role in his growth as a baseball player.
“I feel like football helped me with just everything,” Mitchell said. “Really just going out there and playing my heart out every single play.”
Smackover won 16 games and qualified for the regional tournament last year, and Mitchell said he is eager for the season to arrive.
“I’m really looking forward to it, mainly because I will be playing my last season with all of my friends,” Mitchell said. “I’m just going to enjoy every last moment of it because I have played all of my life with these guys.”