Hughes got in rhythm early

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 29, 2014

Opp’s Landon Hughes delivers a pitch early in the game Monday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Opp’s Landon Hughes delivers a pitch early in the game Monday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Warming up in the bull pen, Opp senior pitcher Landon Hughes already was getting into a good groove.

By the end of the first inning in the Bobcats’ first game of the 2014 Butch Youmans Memorial on Monday, Hughes knew he was going to have a good night on the mound.

The pitcher almost threw a perfect game as he faced the minimum number of batters — three per inning — in a contest that started Opp’s eventual tournament championship run.

Hughes said it was just like any ordinary game.

“I had my good stuff,” he said. “I’ll tell you what, the defense made some unreal plays. The outfield was making great catches and the infield was scooping things up.

“They were making some great plays,” he said. “The defense was the key.”

Hughes said his warmup in the bull pen felt “great,” noting that he was in a good rhythm at the start of the game.

“In the first inning, I threw a lot of strikes,” he said. “I could just tell it was going to be a good night.”

The rest of the game mirrored that first inning as Hughes faced 18 batters through the first six innings and 21 total.

Going into the seventh inning, Hughes was on the verge of the perfect game. However, it was spoiled by a single to right field.

OHS right-fielder Brady Vidich got payback though, by hosing the spoiler who took a chance at advancing to third on the flyout.

Hughes said he knew he was getting close to having a perfect game, but wasn’t trying to focus on that too much.

“Sometimes you get too focused on that, and you get too carried away,” he said. “I was just trying to get one out at a time.”

Hughes started pitching as an 8 year old in little league.

Spectators might notice that his delivery isn’t the norm.

During a typical pitch, Hughes sets himself and stays up right all the way through his follow through.

OHS baseball coach Michael Cassady — who earned his 100th career victory Monday night — said Hughes’ pitching style keeps batters off balance.

“It’s just the way I’ve always done it,” Hughes said.

Hughes said it was a great atmosphere after the game because the team wasn’t only celebrating a shutout, but also Cassady’s 100th win.

“It was a big win — a shutout — and everybody was happy and all pumped,” he said. “It was a great feeling.”

Landon is the son of Jeff and Georgianna Hughes of Opp.