Head coach Marty Smith enters his 25th season for the Patriots. Smith became one of only three active coaches in the state to reach 700 wins in FCSAA when CF defeated Thomas University JV on Feb. 28.
Smith led the Patriots to a record-breaking year in 2018, with his squad shattering the program home run record with a state-leading 94 homers (No. 7 in the NJCAA). The previous record was 56. Five of the Top 10 home run hitters in the state included CF starters Christian Smallwood (15), who finished No. 2 in FCSAA, Luis Medina (13), Yorvis Torrealba (13), Tanner May (12), and Blake Marabell (11). In addition to home runs, the Patriots also finished No. 1 in on-base percentage (.428) and slugging percentage (.568), and finished No. 2 in team batting average (.322).
Smith led the program to a Mid-Florida Conference runner-up finish and FCSAA state tournament appearance while holding a FCSAA Top 10 ranking all 12 weeks. His pitching staff gave up the fewest home runs on the year, while finishing Top 15 in FCSAA in earned run average (4.56). Pitchers Mark Potter (Philadelphia Phillies) and Franklin Hernandez (Milwaukee Brewers) were selected in the 2018 MLB Draft, bringing his totals to four pitchers drafted in the past two years, second most in the FCSAA the past two seasons.
To wrap up the season, Smith's squad garnered six all-conference selections and an all-state selection in Christian Smallwood, while sweeping the male scholar-athlete category with RHP Josh Harper. Harper received the prestigious Bill Tuten Scholar Athlete of the Year award, given annually to the most outstanding baseball player in the state that exemplifies the highest character and performance in the classroom, in the community and on the field. He was also named the Mid-Florida Conference and FCSAA Male Scholar Athlete of the Year. In total, 14 of 18 sophomores signed NCAA scholarships.
In 2017, Smith had the highest draft pick come out of his program to-date in RHP Nate Pearson, who was selected 28th overall (Rd. 1) by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2017 MLB Draft. Pearson, Rawlings JUCO National Pitcher of the Year, was the second highest JUCO player drafted in 2017. Smith also had LHP Jackson Stoeckinger drafted in the ninth round by the Washington Nationals. On the year, Pearson finished Top 3 in FCSAA, Top 5 in nation in total strike outs (118). He finished No. 2 state, Top 12 in nation with lowest ERA (1.56). As a team, Smith's offense finished second in the state in total home runs hit on the season with 35 and had five MFC All-Conference selections, as well as an all-state selection in Pearson.
In 2016, Smith led the Patriots to a third place finish in the ever-tough Mid-Florida Conference. They notched victories over several nationally-ranked opponents including then-NJCAA and FCSAA No. 1 Santa Fe College and St. John's River State College. As a team, the Patriot offense finished Top 5 in the state for most home runs hit (49), with University of Kentucky signee Luke Heyer finishing tied for third (12). Smith's pitching staff also ranked amongst the top in the state with Cooper Wallace and David Lebron serving as a tough one-two punch for opponents. Lebron, a University of Tampa signee, finished Top 3 in the state for most strike outs (94) and Top 5 for lowest earned run average, while Wallace, who signed with Flagler College, finished tied for second for most wins in a season. Lebron (Texas Rangers),two-time Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Year and Rawlings Division DII Pitcher of the Year, and Heyer (Los Angeles Dodgers) would go on to be drafted in the 2018 Draft.
In 2015, Smith led the Patriots to a third place finish in the the Mid-Florida Conference. They defeated then-NJCAA and FCSAA No. 1 St. John's River on March 9 and finished the season Top 3 in the state with the highest fielding percentage (.965).
In 2014, Smith celebrated his historic 600th victory with an astounding 13-5 victory against rival Santa Fe on April 12. He would go on to lead the Patriots to a No. 3 overall finish in the state tournament, losing to eventual NJCAA national runner-up Miami Dade in the FCSAA state semifinals. Star freshman pitcher Boomer Biegalski, 2015 ACC Baseball Tournament MVP, would go on to sign with Florida State University and get drafted by the Oakland Athletics a year later.
A Jacksonville native, Smith has been a fixture of Florida baseball since his stellar high school playing days at state power Terry Parker High School. He joined the Patriots in 1984, playing two seasons under coach Dr. Roger "Marty" Martinsen and earning All-Mid-Florida Conference honors as a sophomore, then completed his playing career at St. Thomas University in Miami, where he played for current Louisiana State University head coach Paul Mainieri.
Smith launched his coaching career immediately after college, joining the staff of NJCAA Hall of Fame coach Demie Mainieri at Miami Dade College. There he helped lead a squad led by future Major League Baseball star Mike Piazza to an FCSAA State Tournament berth. He followed a two-year stint at Miami Dade with a season at FSC-Jacksonville, where he assisted Howard Roey, another NJCAA Hall of Famer, in guiding the Stars to the 1990 FCCAA championship.
Smith returned to his alma mater in 1991 as an assistant to Dr. Martinsen, and ultimately succeeded his retiring mentor as Patriots head coach in 1994. Three years into his tenure, Smith won the first of two consecutive FCSAA state championships, taking the Patriots to the Juco World Series in 1997 and 1998. In addition, Smith's teams have won five MFC championships (1996, 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2007) and finished as state runner-up on two occasions (2004 and 2007).
Over the years, Smith has moved-on hundreds of players to the Div. I, II, III and NAIA levels. He has also had more than 25 players taken in the Major League Baseball Draft over the course of his career. Click here for a complete list.
Smith has collected numerous accolades in the process: Gulf District NJCAA Division I Baseball Coach of the Year (1998); Louisville Slugger NJCAA Region VIII Coach of the Year (1997, 1998); Diamond ABCA Regional Coach of the Year (1997, 1998); FCSAA State Coach of the Year (1997, 1998); Junior College Coach of the Year by the Florida Diamond Club (1997); and Mid-Florida Coach of the Year (1996, 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2007). In 2004, Smith served as head coach of the NJCAA's All-Star entry in the NJCAA-China Friendship Series, leading his team to four wins in five games at Beijing. Smith has been a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association for over 20 years.
Smith and his wife, Cathy, reside in Ocala and have been married for over 25 years. They have a son, Ryan (25), and a daughter, Raegan (20).