Photo credit: Hilltoppersports.com
By Kendrick Jackson, Contributing Writer
Yale Hughes, a senior pitcher at West Liberty University, is entering into the final stretch of his college-playing career. Originally from Cortland, N.Y., Hughes joined the West Liberty baseball team as a freshman during the 2013-2014 season.
Hughes has strong aspirations for postseason play. “I think we will win the rest of our regular season games, go undefeated in the Mountain East Conference Tournament, and then go on to win the entire NCAA tournament, no doubt,” Hughes said.
Hughes has made bold projections for him and the Hilltoppers this postseason, but his and the team performances throughout the year suggests that these proclamations are achievable.
The Hilltoppers have only lost ten games against MEC competition this season, and also went on a seven-game winning streak earlier in the season.
On the other hand, Hughes has operated as a dual threat for the Hilltoppers this season. Hughes ranks second among the team in strikeouts with 30, but is also tied with infielder Ethan Estes with the most home runs this season.
When asked if there was a friendly competition between him and Estes, Hughes denied, opting to make even bolder predictions for him and his teammate. “I hope we both hit at least six more home runs each,” Hughes said.
Hughes displays the same confidence off the field as well. After graduation, Hughes has hopes of trying out for a pro team and playing professionally.
“I plan on playing baseball as long as possible, and then going to PT school and becoming a doctor of physical therapy,” Hughes said. “After that, I hope to train elite baseball players as a physical therapist, coach, and personal trainer.”
However, some of his fondest memories will always be here at WLU. Head Baseball Coach Eric Burkle has been alongside Hughes for the whole ride, as Hughes entered WLU in Burkle’s second season as head coach.
“My fondest memory of Coach Burkle is probably from my freshman year when he came up to me before a game and told me that I was scaring him with how crazy I looked,” Hughes said. “He knew I was crazy on the field, and he was right because I’m absolutely nuts.”