Hughes has value out of bullpen
Mike Neville – Sports Editor
A three-time all-conference player at E.C. Goodwin Tech high school and a top-rated prospect in the collegiate summer league, pitcher Tommy Hughes has established quite the name for himself.
Baseball has been the center of Hughes’ life since he was five years old, and he has worked his way to the college level.
“Baseball has been a stress reliever, I focus most of my time around it and it’s one of the most fun things I do,” said Hughes, a junior.
Growing up, watching his brother and neighbors playing catch and pick-up games inspired Hughes to step up to the plate.
“They are all five to 10 years older than me and I would watch them play and try and mock everything they did,” said Hughes.
As a pitcher, catcher and shortstop in high school, Hughes made the transition to a full-time pitcher when he came to Southern.
The overall feeling of being welcomed into a positive atmosphere on campus is why Hughes said he became an Owl.
“Southern was one of the first schools that invited me up for a visit. I liked the campus. The camp I attended made the decision very easy,” said Hughes.
The values and athleticism that make up Hughes are a few qualities head coach Tim Shea said made him want Hughes to play for the Owls.
“He comes from a good family, he filled the role of pitcher and shortstop and the pitching side took off for him,” said Shea. “We knew he would develop more and he has a plus curveball which is a pitch that translates well at our level.”
Hughes became a full-time pitcher after his freshman year with the Owls that would then lead to opportunities to play at an even higher level.
In 2019, Hughes played for the Bristol Blues at Muzzy Field, where the likes of Babe Ruth and Jim Rice have hit towering home runs and in 2020, for the New Britain Bees, a former independent league team and now a member of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.
“The Bristol Blues was my first summer as just a pitcher, so I had to get used to the lifestyle of arm care and not have to work about hitting or any of that,” said Hughes. “The coaches were very helpful and helped us a lot with the little things.”
The level of play was higher with New Britain than Bristol and more opportunities presented themselves to Hughes.
“A lot of summer leagues were shut down so it was a shocker facing some guys from the top five conferences and having to learn to not just throw but be an elite pitcher,” said Hughes.
As a member of the Bees, Hughes was teammates with some of the top collegiate players in the nation.
His Owls teammates, like Zach Bedryczuk appreciate having a light like Hughes on the team to cheer them on during games and guide them through the rigors when things get tough.
“He’s a great teammate, he’s easy going and he’s always one of the first ones there to great you and celebrate with you,” said Bedryczuk.
Besides being a great teammate and team player, Hughes also brings valuable assets to the Owls like an impressive pitch command.
“His command, just knowing you can trust him and that he will come in and throw strikes,” said Bedryczuk.
Knowing Hughes from high school and AAU, Bedryczuk said that Hughes has what it takes to go far with his game.
“I’ve been in contact him for a while and he’s a very driven player and that will take him far in the future,” said Bedryczuk.
No matter what the future holds, Hughes said the sky is the limit with where his career will take him.
“I believe I can play after college,” Hughes said, “if not major league opportunities, it can be independent league or that sort of thing. I am looking forward to the road ahead and whatever happens, happpens.”