Recruiting pitches don't get any easier than what Notre Dame showed Westlake's Ryan Smith last weekend.

Never mind that he was being recruited to play baseball -- Smith's visit to the school included going to the Irish's football game against USC.

"That was just amazing," Smith said. "I didn't have any doubt where I wanted to be after that."

Not long after he returned home, Smith orally committed to Notre Dame. The All-Extra catcher said he plans to sign with the Irish during the early signing period, which begins Nov. 9. College baseball rosters usually have 25 to 30 players among whom to divvy no more than 11.7 scholarships. Notre Dame's 2006 roster has 30 players, and Smith received a half-scholarship.

"I know that most players don't get this [amount], so I feel pretty fortunate," he said.

After his sophomore season, Smith had a breakout summer, gaining recruiting attention on the AAU circuit. He continued his fine play at Westlake as a junior, batting .453, slugging .717 and throwing out 9 of 13 attempted base-stealers.

Smith is the first Westlake baseball player to gain a Division I scholarship since Robby Jacobsen signed with George Mason. Jacobsen, a senior, has been the Patriots' starting catcher the past two seasons.

Notre Dame finished 38-24-1 last season and lost in an NCAA Regional. The Irish won the Big East Conference tournament for the fourth consecutive season.

Volleyball Star to Albany

Whitney Johnson will do what most of her SMAC competition had hoped she'd do a while back: She's going away.

Johnson has committed to play volleyball at Albany, with whom she will sign during next month's early signing period.

"I liked the team, but I also liked the thought of going away, to get more independence," said the All-Met middle hitter, who also had offers from Virginia Commonwealth and Towson.

The 6-foot-2 Johnson has been the conference's most dominant player the past two seasons. Last year, she had 250 kills and 61 aces. She has helped Calvert to a 46-1 record since the beginning of her sophomore season. Johnson was also the All-Extra basketball player of the year last season, averaging a Washington-area-best 24 points per game.