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Hopewell’s Charlie Smetana Working to Turn Dreams Into Reality

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“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Gen. Colin Powell.

That’s no doubt true so is, ‘some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it’.

Those two phrases certainly apply to an athlete in Hopewell that’s working hard to make a life-long dream become reality.

Charlie Smetana has lived and breathed baseball starting with his time in the Hopewell Youth League and being a member of the Beaver Valley Travel organization for many years.

Smetana’s hard work earned him the starting catching job in 2023 for the WPIAL champion Hopewell Vikings baseball team. Being a starting catcher as a freshman for a high school team isn’t something that happens often but Charlie earned it that season with his defensive play and the way he handled the pitching staff.

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Entering this past season, Smetana had a few goals that he wanted to accomplish, tops on that list was getting back to the playoffs and trying to repeat as WPIAL 4A champions. While the last part of that didn’t happen, the Vikings did earn a playoff spot, despite having a really young team. As far as personal goals, Charlie set out to legit middle of the order hitter so that he would have the chance of accomplishing his ultimate goal of playing college baseball.

Accomplishing both of those things aren’t going to be easy and will require a ton of work. The good thing for Charlie is that’s something that he’s been willing to do.

The consistent work that this 16-year-old has put in over the last calendar year is impressive and it’s not surprising that Smetana is really starting to see noticeable results.

“I’m putting in two plus hours a day hitting, lifting every day, I’m doing speed work now,” said Smetana. “I’ve loved baseball since I was little but over the last couple of years, I’ve put in the time and am putting in the work to show that I love it in order to get better.”

Hopewell Sports Nation asked Smetana what a normal day looks like for him.

“I’ll start off with a lift in the morning, one of the days it’s at the school and the other days are at the gym. Then, I’ll go through my hitting routine on the tee and then I’ll go the field to do my catching work and do my speed work. And then I’ll hit again at night.”

“In the gym, it’s been about getting stronger, and I can see that I’ve been getting stronger each week, each month. With baseball, from the spring until now, my hitting has gotten a lot better as my numbers and stats have shown it.”

Keep in mind, he doesn’t just do this once or twice a week, he’s been doing it every day since the start of the calendar year. Charlie expressed he has been very fortunate working with some amazing coaches over the years, starting in Hopewell Youth Baseball, Beaver Falls (Coach Todd Weischedel, Coach Adam Libatore), and now Hopewell High School (Coach Singletary, Coach Grant, Coach Fox, Coach K, Coach Absey) and now Coach Cutshall/Tanner for his summer travel team Beaver Valley 16u Red. He credits all of the great coaching over the years in combination with his hard work and constant search of baseball information/drills online for his new and improved swing.

“I want to be back playing in the championship game next season,” said Smetana. “That’s my motivation, to be back where we were last year and for our team to be better.”

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From our conversation, it was very apparent that getting Hopewell back to the championship game is what’s driving Smetana as is giving himself the best opportunity to get noticed by college scouts.

“The work and training become a habit. It was hard at first to stay motivated, but my other motivation is to play college baseball. It (all the work) was hard at the beginning but so is trying to play college baseball.”

In order to become a better player and to have a chance at accomplishing his life-long dream, Charlie zeroed in on a couple parts of his game to work hard at.

“This past winter, I really worked on my launch angle and my lain with my bat,” said Smetana. “It was hard and in the early spring, I had struggles because it’s a different swing, different timing. By the end of the season, I think I got better and better. And now over the summer, it’s really showing.”

Working on your launch angle allows you to spray more double, hit more line drives instead of popping it up, and hitting it on the ground.

Defense has always been Smetana’s strong suit, but no one is ever a finished product.

“I got a lot better this season at blocking the ball, receiving and throwing runners out when they go.”

Smetana estimated that he threw out at least 10 runners this season and is currently to improve that number for 2025.

“In college, they’re looking for a catcher that can do a 2-second pop time and below. Right now, I’m around 2.2 to 2.1. I’m working to get below 2 seconds. You’re able to do that by improving your foot work, arm strength and being more explosive.”

For those wondering, a pop time is the time when the ball hits your glove and you’re able to get it to second base.

“During my closeout meetings with Coach Singletary and his staff, they informed me that if I continue to improve and work hard, I will have opportunities to continue playing at a high level in college. I look forward to proving them right.”

“I just hope that in August, they’ll message me,” said Smetana. “It’s a huge motivation and along with getting our team better, it’s what keeps me going. I know that I have to get better if I want to play in college. It’s not a nervous or anxious feeling just an excitement.”

 

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