Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mizzou Baseball Roster Notes: Neil Hugenberg, RHP

■ From
Hannibal High alum Neil Hugenberg has made the Missouri Tiger Baseball roster as a walk-on. Tiger Assistant Evan Pratte tells KHQA that Neil still "has some work to do" this spring before securing a spot on the Traveling Squad, but that Neil has been some "very nice things" in his workouts. Not surprised a kid with a 93 mph fastball found a college home; but with Hugenberg's collection of skills, should a kid like this ever slip through the cracks as a walk-on?

With a fastball that clocked in the mid 90's and a sweeping, nearly unhittable curveball, Neal Hugenberg enjoyed a dominant, albeit injury-addled high school career at Hannibal.

Those same attributes are giving him a new lease on his baseball life.

KHQA has confirmed that Hugenberg has successfully walked on to the nationally regarded Missouri Tiger Baseball team. Mizzou Assistant Evan Pratte confirmed Neal's place on the Tiger Roster, complimenting "Big Neal" on doing "a lot of impressive things" during his workouts. Pratte says Neal still has some work to do this spring before he cements a spot on the traveling roster, but the Tigers are weighing Hugenberg as a right-handed bullpen option.

He's back on top (Hannibal Courier-Post, April 30, 2009)

It has been a long year-and-a-half for Neil Hugenberg.

By his own admission, there was a time when the Hannibal senior pitcher did not think he would ever get to stare down a batter from the mound again.
Rewind to April 2, 2008. Hugenberg had been fighting what he would soon find out was an extra half of a vertebrae in his back that was causing him increasing amounts of pain. It became so bad at one point that he left the ’07-’08 basketball season in hopes of salvaging his baseball season.

“I would ice my back after each game,” Hugenberg said. “But, by halftime up at Borgia at the Thanksgiving Tournament, I just couldn’t go back out.”

Few would argue that he didn’t have good reason for doing so. Hugenberg’s skill on the mound had been affirmed just a year prior when he was named as an All-State pitcher, sporting a .48 ERA.

But after what the senior described as “the slowest double ever” against the Hickman Kewpies, it became clear that the sacrifice had been in vain.

“I went to put my hands on my knees and I couldn’t straighten back up,” he said. “It was just spazing out. I thought it was over.”
. . .
And Hugenberg has certainly made it look easy this season. In his past two starts, he has struck out a combined 31 batters – 17 against the Mexico Bulldogs and 14 against the Boonville Pirates. And with the district tournament right around the corner, Graham said he knows just who he will go to in those clutch situations.

“[Neil is] just that type of pitcher,” Graham said. “… Teams know that if Hugenberg is on the mound, it is going to be a battle. … He wants to be in those big games. As a pitcher, you’ve got to want the ball in the big situations and you’ve got to want to be the man for your team and that’s what Neil does.”

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