ONEONTA — Joe Hughes has a long way to go.
Of course, he’s just getting started.
Longtime Oneonta High athletic director and baseball coach Hughes opens his first season as a New York Collegiate Baseball League manager at 5 p.m. today, when his Oneonta Outlaws visit the Sherrill Silversmiths.
“We had full practices Tuesday and Wednesday and all but two of our guys are here,” said Hughes, a former professional baseball player whose coaching resume includes assistant gigs at the Single-A, NYCBL and college levels, as well as a 404-204 record in 27 seasons as the head of the Oneonta High varsity program. “The level of competition and the pitching has been very impressive so far. Some guys can throw the ball very well in the upper 80s and low 90s, and they have good secondary pitches to go along with it.”
Hughes will be managing a 25-man roster that includes Oneonta High graduates Michael Calkins and Sean Getman, along with OHS senior Chris Pindar and a handful of standouts from upstate New York colleges, among others. The roster also features right-handed pitchers Jake Cryts and Tsuyoshi Horibata from Division I Binghamton University, University at Albany catcher Evan Harasta and Cortland State infielder Mitch Hollander.
Adding to the local flavor are right-handed pitchers Alec Romanowski of Stevenson University and Monmouth University’s Reid Van Woert, who opposed Hughes when they played high school ball at Maine-Endwell and Johnson City, respectively.
“We’re still hemming and hawing about the lineup,” said Hughes, whose coaching staff includes former OHS standout and current Oneonta State assistant Lance Ratchford. “We’ll put one together and throw it out there. Everyone who’s here wants to get some at-bats and some innings, so we’ll see what we come up with.”
Hughes said today’s opening-day starter for the Outlaws will be Wofford College right-hander Matt Milburn, who will be followed in the rotation by the University of Georgia right-hander Luke Crumley, Cryts, Grand Canyon University righty Malcolm Purdy and lefty Calkins of Division II champion University of Tampa. Should the weather hold, Calkins will start Tuesday night’s game at Damaschke Field against the Syracuse Salt Cats.