by Patrick Gustavson
Andrew Hinckley entered his senior season in 2017 with high hopes. The pitcher and infielder was coming off a sensational 2016 season that saw him throw seven complete games on the mound and hit three home runs at the plate. This performance led to him being named a finalist for the John Olerud National Two-Way Player Award.
The season started off strong for Hinckley, making four starts to the tune of 3.00 Earned Run Average, in addition to 28 strikeouts.
However, Hinckley began feeling discomfort in his back, and it was discovered that he was having a stress reaction in his L5 vertebrae, with signs of fluid. Had he continued to play, it could have led to a stress fracture.
At the time, Hinckley did not know the injury would cost him his season.
“Something like this has happened where I had on oblique injury, and it was two weeks and I was fine,” Hinckley said. “When I noticed I had no improvement and my back was still bothering me, I knew something was up.”
However, Hinckley made sure to stay involved with his teammates, and even traveled to Fort Worth, Texas with them for their NCAA tournament game, an experience Hinckley called “incredible.”
Following a summer of rehab, Hinckley feels good and is ready to take on this season.
Hinckley’s return will surely bolster a young pitching staff, in addition to the returns of fellow hurlers Brett Susi and Brandon Fox.
Head coach Charlie Hickey is looking forward to Hinckley’s return, and feels he is healthy enough where he can be relied on as one of the team’s top arms.
“He [Hinckley] has demonstrated previously in his career here that he has the ability to be one of the best pitchers in the conference,” Hickey said.
One adjustment Hinckley will be forced to make is moving away from being a two-way player, something he had done his entire life.
Prior to his time as a Blue Devil, he played at Avery Point, where he was mostly a position player, due to recovering from Tommy John surgery. He predominantly played third base, but even saw time as a catcher, all while throwing a few innings.
However, when he came to CCSU, he knew his future was in pitching, so he turned his focus to that. Following his latest injury, his focus has solely turned to pitching.
“I feel like I could, but it’s in my best interest to focus on one thing,” Hinckley said when asked about his ability to remain a two-way player. “I just want to do whatever I can to help the team, whether that’s in the field, on the mound or at the plate. I just want to be out there.”
The future was another major factor in the decision to focus on pitching.
“I hope for the opportunity to play at the next level. I’m going to try to get signed somewhere, whether it’s Indy ball or a current MLB team,” Hinckley said.
In his return to action, Hinckley tossed six innings against North Dakota State, where he surrendered just one run on three hits, to go with four strikeouts. Though credited with the loss, it was a strong showing to start the season.