Cory Hoopaugh is a prime example of “you can get what you want.”
The recent Apalachee High School graduate had a burning desire to play baseball at the next level. It was something that became a mission of sorts. Through hard work, determination and persistence, Hoopaugh has earned that opportunity and in the end that’s all the young man was asking for.
Hoopaugh will walk on at Gordon College in Barnesville and will have that much desired opportunity to show what he can do at the next level.
“I just wanted a chance to play in college,” Hoopaugh said. “I’m not a power pitcher so I wondered if someone who throws in the 70s could get a chance at this. I have certain talents but someone who throws in the 90s is always going to get a look before someone with the strengths I have.”
AHS baseball coach Mike Cavey said Hoopaugh’s story is one which shows what a student-athlete can do if he has the desire to accomplish something.
“I wish all my players had his heart,” Cavey said. “He’s one of the few who really wanted to play and is willing to put in the necessary work to play in college. He had such a good year for us this spring. He pitched some big games for us and held some of the top teams in our region in check.”
The first thing opposing batters will notice about Hoopaugh is his unique sidearm motion. The former Wildcat said he developed the throwing motion midway through his junior season.
“My fastball was flat,” Hoopaugh said. “At practice on day Coach Cavey and the coaches showed me different ways to grip the baseball and we worked on some different pitches. At first it was difficult to get used to. I walked my first two batters when I started using it. All my life I had been throwing over the top. I was willing to try anything, however. I have more movement throwing the baseball this way.”
Working on his motion extensively during summer ball after his junior season, Hoopaugh became more comfortable with the throwing motion. By the time his senior season arrived, he posted career numbers for the Diamond Wildcats.
When it came time to try and find a college to play at, Hoopaugh wanted somewhere close enough to home so his family, including his grandparents, could see him compete. While also considering schools such as Middle Georgia, Andrew College and South Georgia, Hoopaugh liked what Gordon had to offer. He set up a tryout for the school’s baseball coaches and everything seemed to fall into place.
When he arrived for his tryout, the Gordon coaches were a little surprised by Hoopaugh’s delivery.
“I warm up by throwing over the top,” he said.
“They were a little surprised because this motion is unusual for a lefty.”
The bottom line, however, is Hoopaugh has something he has worked many years for.
“You always dream about playing college ball, major league ball even,” he said. “This is just something I’ve always wanted and I am thankful I have this chance.”
Hoopaugh recalls “getting serious” about his training during the time from his junior to his senior season. Now that training is set to pay off. He will report to Gordon at the end of July along with the other baseball team members. The first day of class is Aug. 15.
“I’m just glad I have been able to show you don’t have to throw 90 miles per hour to go somewhere and do something,” he said. “You don’t have to be a power pitcher to be successful. I think I have proven that. I would tell my teammates to stick with it and keep working.”
During the 2010 season, Hoopaugh worked 44.1 innings (a team high) and had a team-low 3.63 earned run average.
He also recorded 24 strikeouts and pitched in a team best 13 outings for the AHS Wildcats.