By Phil Anastasia
Here's the windup and here's Devin Smeltzer's pitch: Let's help others.
Smeltzer, a senior pitcher at Bishop Eustace Prep and cancer survivor, is determined to use his success on the mound to aid children and their families who have been impacted by the disease.
He hopes other people will join his cause.
Smeltzer, a first-team All-South Jersey selection as a junior, is launching a "strikeout" foundation this season. He hopes individuals and businesses will pledge a dollar amount for every strikeout that he records on the mound.
"I play for others," Smeltzer said of his determination to use his story, and his status, to provide financial and emotional support for children and their families whose experiences recall his battle with cancer that began when he was 10 years old.
Every dollar raised through Smeltzer's "strikeout" project will go to "Katie's Krusaders," a non-profit affilated with St. Christopher's that provides support for patients and their families and also helps to defray the cost of improved facilities.
"Giving back to a foundation that hits home is really important to me," Smeltzer said. "Katie's works hard to help kids live a normal life along with helping out the parents with treatment bills and other expenses.
"They do so much for all of us kids this is the least I can do to start giving back."
Tim Smelzer, Devin's father, said Friday that the Katie's Krusaders website will include information about his son's strikeout project.
Tim Smeltzer said the website likely will be updated early next week.
The 6-foot-3 Smeltzer, a left-hander whose fastball has topped 90 mph, was 8-3 last season with a 1.39 ERA and 109 strikeouts.
Smeltzer has signed to play at Florida Gulf Coast University, in Fort Myers, on a baseball scholarship.
But Smeltzer could be a high-round selection in the major-league baseball draft in June. In that case, he could decide to pursue a professional baseball career.
"Devin is a special young man for many reasons," Bishop Eustace coach Sam Tropiano said. "The tenacity with which he is approaching this cause is amazing."
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