By Chan Davis
OF THE COMMERCIAL STAFF
SHERIDAN — Since becoming involved in baseball at an early age, Sheridan’s Landon Huggins has had aspirations of playing baseball at the collegiate level.
Huggins made that dream come true in front of a roomful of family, friends and supporters Wednesday afternoon, signing a National Letter of Intent to continue his baseball career at Arkansas Tech University.
“It started when I turned 8 years old,” Huggins said moments after putting ink to paper. “It just clicked. This is my sport and I’m not that good at anything else so I may as well do it with everything I’ve got.”
The southpaw almost saw his career come to an end as a junior, suffering an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament, a possible debilitating musculoskeletal tear that sidelined the rising star for an entire season.
But Huggins absorbed the news and rehabilitated his knee through the offseason and as ready for action for his senior campaign.
“It was very devastating to Landon and to us because we knew he wanted to play ball,” Huggins’ mother, Jill, said. “His dad, coaches and everybody just kept telling him he had to fight through it. You have to push and work through it and he did. He was determined in his mind that he wanted to play college ball somewhere. And he did it and I am grateful to everyone that has pushed him along.”
Even after missing his junior season, Huggins did enough during his senior year to garner multiple offers before deciding to sign with the Wonder Boys. He finished this season with a 5-3 record with two saves. He threw 47 innings, recording 36 strikeouts and a 2.39 ERA while holding opponents to a .224 batting average.
“Everything Landon has done this season has been done as a team player,” Sheridan coach Mike Moore said. “Landon leads by example with his work ethic on the field, in the classroom and in the community. He comes to practice every day ready to give his best effort so he can get better.”
And Huggins doesn’t want to see the train stop at the college station. He wants to ride it all the way to the big leagues.
“I always looked up to Cliff Lee because he is a left-handed pitcher,” Huggins said. “I just want to be like him and play in the majors. That’s my biggest goal. Whenever I would see him pitch, it would make me want it that much more.”
Huggins said he would continue to work hard to obtain his goals.
“I throw every day,” he said. “It’s an everyday thing for me. I always work to get my arm stronger. I do APP (Athletic Pitching Program) and I throw every day.”
Huggins takes a three-pitch arsenal to college: fastball, change-up and curve, with pinpoint command of all three.
“I hit 85 at the showcase at Arkansas Tech,” Huggins said. “I am effective with those three because I can throw my curveball for a strike pretty much when I want. And I can locate my change-up most of the time.”
Huggins understands college will offer a challenge pitchers do not experience in high school.
“They have told me to just work down in the zone,” he said. “If I work down, they may hit me hard, they may not. If they do, you just have to work through it and learn as you go.”
Huggins will join teammate Nick Ware at Arkansas Tech. Ware was an invited walk-on.
“I have to thank my coaches,” Huggins said. “And I have to thank all my teammates. I had a great defense and confidence to pitch with them behind me. I couldn’t do it without them.”