January 30, 2023

West Virginia University’s Grant Hussey celebrates after hitting a home run in his freshman year with the Mountaineers last season. The Parkersburg South grad, who led WVU with 11 homers, has been invited to play in the Cape Cod League this summer. (Photo courtesy of WVU)

MORGANTOWN – No regrets.

Grant Hussey came out of high school and decided to forego the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, choosing to go to college instead.

A year later, the Parkersburg South graduate enters his second season with the Mountaineers with the expectation of still improving his game after spending the summer playing in the Northwoods League for the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders (Wis.) to fight.

“The experience of playing in the Northwoods League was a lot of fun – it was obviously good competition because there were quality lads from all over the country.” said Hussy. “I remember we had a day off and then came back and played games for 27 days.

“It was very special because I did the All-Star Game. It meant all the work I did at WVU during the season.”

Hussey, WVU’s home run leader as a freshman, has already set his goal for the coming summer after being invited to play in the Cape Cod League. He will be a member of the Wareham Gatemen, the same team that Nick Swisher, a Parkersburg High School graduate and former major league baseball player, played for.

“At this point it’s the best of the best” said Hussy. “Not many boys can play ball there. In terms of talent, the Cape Cod League is blowing away the Northwoods League. You know 100 percent where your game is.”

Hussey made an immediate impression with WVU’s baseball program. In the season opener against Central Michigan, he hit a grand slam — the first of three homers he threw off in the Mountaineers’ first four games. For the year, his numbers included a .489 slugging average with 11 homers and 35 runs hit.

“I definitely felt comfortable playing in my home state,” said Hussy. “It’s nice that my family comes whenever they want to come. I was ready for prom.”

At the end of the regular season, WVU tied with Texas for fifth in Big 12 Conference scoring after finishing 14-10 — the most conference wins for the WVU baseball program since joining the Big 12 in 2013. The Mountaineers finished 33-22 overall and qualified for the Big 12 Conference Tournament.

As the WVU football and men’s basketball teams mark time trying to stay above .500 during the current school year, Hussey believes baseball can provide a spark for Mountaineer men’s athletics. The culture around campus is contagious after WVU baseball set a record regular-season attendance at Monongalia County Ballpark last season.

“As football and men’s basketball both hit rock bottom in recent years, WVU fans are resting on something they need to watch – baseball culture is changing for the better.” said Hussy.

Before Hussey even stepped onto campus for the official start of classes, he already had experience playing as part of the 2021 MLB Draft League in Morgantown. As a member of the West Virginia Black Bears, he learned from the best. One of the most successful players in West Virginia baseball history, University High School graduate Jedd Gyorko was the manager of the Black Bears.

In just 31 games and 135 shots, Hussey hit .277 with eight home runs and a .598 slugging percentage.

“That was a great experience”, said Hussy. “Jedd Gyorko has that big league mentality. I could pick his brains any day. He has a different perspective on things. I still see him occasionally in Morgantown.”

Hussey’s second season at WVU begins February 17 with a three-day trip to Georgia Southern. When the Mountaineers return, they host Minnesota for a game midweek before heading west for a three-game series against the University of Arizona on Feb. 24-26.

The trip always includes an exhibition game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hussey, who majors in sports management with a GPA of 3.5, loves long car rides — which are a common theme when attending the Big 12 Conference.

“I love travelling,” said Hussy. “I did it with Travel Ball, so it wasn’t a big change. I always enjoy traveling to Georgia as well as Lubbock, Texas where Texas Tech is located. Also enjoyed Fort Worth, Texas.”

The Hussey Figures Conference members in particular will have more in-depth scouting reports now that an entire collegiate-level season is on the books.

“It gets harder over time as they learn how to approach you.” said Hussy. “The first weekend of my freshman year, they didn’t really have a scouting report. At least not at the college level. If we play Texas, they probably have a full batting report with things like swing miss rate and strike charts.”

To counter this, Hussey simply replied: “Just hit the ball.”

As previously mentioned, Hussey has his fair share of family support when WVU plays at home. In addition to his parents (Steve and Jan), sister (Meredith), stepbrother (Aiden) and 6-year-old brother Cole attending games throughout the season, his grandparents Mike and Phyllis Rowley are also season ticket holders and not a home game miss.

“My grandparents are my biggest fans” said Hussy. “I have no regrets at all going to college instead of going into draft. It was the best choice for me. I always think about being mature enough to do something and at this point in my career I wasn’t mature enough.

“I’m more than excited about the next six months because it’s one of the best baseball stretches of my life.”

One of Hussey’s focuses in his sophomore collegiate season is reducing his strikeouts while trying to keep batting average and slugging percentage intact.

“I don’t want to do anything else — that’s the dream and where I want to be since I started playing baseball.” said Hussy. “Every kid wants to play in the big leagues and I have the opportunity to do that. That’s all I can ask.

“It’s a full-time job, but I made a choice to be here and I’m doing whatever it takes to achieve my goal.”

Contact Kerry Patrick at [email protected]

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