Drew Smith worked hard, reaped the benefits, then got back to work.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound pitcher, who just finished his sophomore season at Edward Little, recently announced that he accepted a scholarship offer to play baseball at the University of Connecticut following the conclusion of his high school career in 2024.

Edward Little pitcher Drew Smith battles with a Bangor hitter during the A North baseball final in Augusta on June 14, 2022. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Smith took time to celebrate, but he didn’t take the day off.

“I was very excited,” Smith said. “I celebrated with my family for the rest of the day. I was proud of myself, but the work doesn’t stop. I still did the work I had to do that day. The work doesn’t stop, the grind doesn’t stop, and I still have a lot of room to get better.”

Smith’s high school coach, Dave Jordan, and travel coach, Ryan Copp, say that unceasing work ethic why the junior-to-be earned a NCAA Division I scholarship, and it also will be the catalyst to how he performs at the college level and beyond.

“He’s a tough kid that’s a three-sport athlete and he works really hard,” said Copp, part-owner of the Maine Lightning and coach of the Maine Lightning Showcase team. “The kid was in the facility two or three times a week over the winter. We sat with him after last year and said, ‘You have the potential to play at a high-level Division I, but you have to do x, y and z.’ To his credit he did it this offseason. He will be probably 95-96 miles per hour and will have a chance to be drafted right out of high school. That’s where I see him going.”


Smith plays for the Maine Lightning’s 16U Prime team this summer, but next year he’ll be a member of Copp’s Showcase team.

This spring with the Red Eddies, Smith consistently threw between 87 and 91 miles per hour. He struck out 67 batters in 42 innings and finished his sophomore season with a 4-2 record and an earned run average of 3.67. Against Bangor in the Class A North final, Smith pitched a complete game, striking out seven batters and allowing only one run in a 1-0 loss.

“Drew has really transformed himself into a top-notch, high-end baseball player,” Jordan added. “He has a lot of physical skill but has gone out and gotten educated at EL and with the Maine Lightning program. His drive and work ethic, you don’t see it from many high school players. It’s a pleasure and a joy to watch him get better. He has a lot of room to improve, and I truly believe that he will improve. He has a tremendous desire and work ethic to self-improve.”

After starting the season with a pair of tough outings against Bangor and Oxford Hills, Smith settled in, winning four consecutive decisions before the regional final while tallying a 2.65 ERA.

Jordan said Smith’s work ethic rubbed off on his teammates, as the Red Eddies, only a seventh seed, made a run to the regional final with wins over Camden Hills, Oxford Hills and Mt. Ararat.

“He helped out the other guys because they saw him working hard, and a lot of the other guys started doing the same thing,” Jordan said. “He’s matured a lot — he’s a young guy with a really athletic body, but now he’s improving. … His work ethic and leadership made people just follow right into what he was doing. What was nice was he became a little more verbal — as a sophomore, sometimes they’re a little quiet and don’t want to be outspoken, but it was good. When they spoke, he listened. He let you know if he thought you weren’t giving the effort you needed to.”



In February, as college teams were starting to show interest in him, Smith visited the Connecticut campus. 

“I have always been really interested in UConn,” Smith said. “I met some of the coaches, and I loved the coaches and the campus. It was the beginning of the process, so they weren’t talking to me yet.”

Earlier this summer, a couple of UConn coaches came to watch Smith play for the Maine Lightning’s 16U Prime team, and Copp managed to facilitate a call by Smith to Huskies pitching coach Joshua MacDonald. 

“We talked a little bit and we stayed in touch,” Smith said. “He came to watch me a few more times, and once that happened we set up another call, and then he said (that) whenever I’m ready they are ready to make an offer. About two weeks later, I was ready for an offer, so I set up a call.”

Smith didn’t need much convincing, because he was already interested in the program and he is excited about its future.


UConn finished 2022 as the 16th-ranked program in NCAA Division I with a 50-16 record. The Huskies lost to Stanford in the Super Regionals of the College World Series. 

“I love the coaches and I love what they’re doing with the program,” Smith said. “The program finished in the top 20 of all of college baseball. I love the environment of the program, and I thought it was the right fit for me. They didn’t have to do a lot of convincing, but they have a lot of big leaguers coming out of there that have done great things in the major leagues. That struck me good. I was pretty sure because of what I’ve heard and seen from them.”

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder George Springer, a four-time All-Star, and Boston Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes are among the former UConn Huskies currently on Major League Baseball teams.

Earlier this week, UConn’s Reggie Crawford was selected in the first round of the MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants — the fifth Huskies player to go in the first round since the start head coach Jim Penders’ tenure in 2004 — while Austin Peterson (Cleveland Guardians) was drafted in the ninth round, Pat Gallagher (Toronto) in the 11th and Casey Dana (Los Angeles Angels) in the 16th round. Another UConn player, Matt Donlan, signed a free agent contract with the Red Sox after the draft.

During his recruitment, Smith talked with his coaches and his father, Ryan Smith, a former pitcher at the University of Maine. Ultimately, though, the choice was Smith’s to make.

“I talked to (my dad) about it and he pretty much let me have it because it’s my future and my choice,” Drew Smith said. “He told me what he thought, but he wanted it to be my choice because he wanted me to be happy. (Jordan) was pretty proud. (Copp) has been through this process with a lot of players for a lot of years. He had some good points and had a lot of good things to tell me to help me make a decision. He was a huge help with that.”

Smith is the second Auburn-Lewiston area player this year to accept a Division I baseball scholarship offer, joining recent Lewiston High School graduate Josh Murphy, who will play at Bryant University.

Smith still has a couple of years of high school and travel baseball to improve enough to become a potential MLB draft pick. Copp said that there’s a lot that goes into being a high school draft prospect, but that Smith has the work ethic to give himself a chance.

“We look at guys that have the body, the athleticism, the movement, the ability to command the strike zone, command the off-speed pitches, kind of anything and everything under the sun,” Copp said. “He’s on his way. He’s got a lot of work to do to get there, and a lot of people don’t understand how much work goes into getting drafted out of high school.”

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