KEARNEY — Zane Schmidt garnered interest from multiple Division I universities after thriving as a freshman at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas this spring.
Schmidt, a Kearney native, committed to Texas A&M on Monday and will have three years of eligibility remaining.
"Back in high school, Texas A&M was always a college I kept an eye on," Schmidt said. "They’ve had a reputation of getting Nebraska kids the last couple of years, and they are a great program and play in the best baseball conference. It’s a baseball program I’ve dreamed to be a part of."
Texas A&M was the only program he received an offer from and visited, he said. The program’s competiveness and facilities stood out to Schmidt and factored into his decision, he added.
After his four years at Kearney Catholic, Schmidt planned on attending University of Nebraska at Kearney until the unexpected elimination of the baseball program last February.
It left Schmidt scrambling for a new university. He attended Hutchinson and flourished in his lone season at the junior college level.
In 64 games as a freshman, Schmidt batted .395 with 16 doubles, five triples, 22 home runs and 75 RBIs in 238 bats this spring.
Schmidt, a left-handed hitter, earned Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference West Division Most Valuable Player and Freshman of the Year honors. He also was a first-team All-Region VI selection as a designated hitter.
"After they cut their program, I knew I wanted to take a chance and see how high I could play after what I planned on being two years developing at the junior college level," he said. "I ended up taking a chance and it paid off."
In high school, Schmidt played for Kearney’s American Legion program and for the Central Nebraska Stars, a fall travel baseball team consisting of Kearney, Grand Island and Hastings athletes.
Texas A&M plays in the Southeastern Conference, college baseball’s top conference, and has made the NCAA Tournament 13 consecutive years under coach Rob Childress.
Texas A&M considers Schmidt a bat-first player, he said. As of now, Texas A&M doesn’t view him at any specific defensive position, after he spent the majority of his freshman season at designated hitter.
This summer, Schmidt will play in the Mid-Plains League, an eight-team college wood bat league, for the Junction City Brigade in Junction City, Kansas.
"I plan on going down to Texas A&M and earning playing time right away and hopefully be an everyday guy for them next year," Schmidt said.