Kingston stand­out headed to Ni­a­gara

Kingston High baseball stand­out Jef­fery Hayner signs let­ter of in­tent to at­tend Ni­a­gara University

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Mike Stribl mstribl@free­manon­line.com @MStribl on Twit­ter

KINGSTON >> A dream that prob­a­bly got its spark more than a dozen years ago in Lit­tle League has come true for Jef­fery Hayner.

Kingston High’s se­nior pitcher will be play­ing Di­vi­sion I col­le­giate baseball after sign­ing his Na­tional Let­ter of In­tent to at­tend Ni­a­gara University.

“I al­ways wanted to play in Divi­son I,” Hayner said. “I started to re­al­ize it maybe in my ju­nior year once I got big­ger, stronger and I was com­pet­ing on travel ball lev­els with older kids. It just all came to­gether then. It’s just what I want to do.

“When I was four I be­gan play­ing Tee-ball for Ul­ster Lit­tle League and, from there, I just played and fell in love with it,” he said. “I knew it as soon as I played.”

Hayner posted a 4-1 record with a 2.42 earned-run av­er­age for the Sec­tion 9, Class AA cham­pion Tigers. He struck out 33 and al­lowed just 16 earned runs in 46.1 in­nings.

Ni­a­gara dis­cov­ered him dur­ing sum­mer travel ball while he played for the North­east Pride.

“I was play­ing up in Syra­cuse at a tour­na­ment. They watched me pitch and emailed me and, from there, it went on,” he said.

“I was talk­ing to a few col­leges. At the end, I felt Ni­a­gara would be the best fit, ed­u­ca­tion­ally and ath­let­i­cally, for me to con­tinue my baseball ca­reer.”

The Pur­ple Ea­gles were 11-37-1 last year, go­ing 11-13 in the Metro At­lantic Ath­letic Con­fer­ence (MAAC).

“The team is up on the rise. They’ll be good in a few years. We have a good bunch of kids com­ing in. They have a bunch of good kids right now. We’re go­ing to be a solid

team, will be con­tend­ing in the MAAC,” Hayner said.

“I don’t know if I will up there as a re­liever or starter yet, but what­ever goes. It’s just about get­ting up there and get­ting in the games and get­ting in­nings in to help the team out.”

Hayner plans to ma­jor in Sports Man­age­ment.

He signed his NLI the same day as Tiger team­mates Tyler Kelder (headed to St. Bon­aven­ture) and Avery Short (Siena). Ni­a­gara and Siena are both in the MAAC and nearby St. Bon­aven­ture is an an­nual non-con­fer­ence op­po­nent of the Ea­gles.

“I’ll be see­ing them a lot. I’ll be play­ing against them. We’ll be play­ing St. Bon­nie. They’re right there and Siena is in the same con­fer­ence,” Hayner said. “It’s ex­cit­ing. I’ll be able to see them in col­lege and not lose

touch with them.

“I’ll get to see them all the time.”

For the time be­ing, just the idea of know­ing he’ll be play­ing D-I ball soon enough has Hayner en­thu­si­as­tic.

“I’m very ex­cited. It’s some­thing that I’ve al­ways been look­ing for­ward to,” he said. “I was al­ways aim­ing to go to Van­der­bilt but, you re­al­ize as you get older, Di­vi­sion I baseball is Di­vi­sion I baseball any place you go.

“As long as you get there. It’s a tough ac­com­plish­ment. Not every­one gets to go there, so I’m ev­ery thank­ful for every­one who has helped me get there. It’s sur­real.”

For now the fo­cus turns to winter con­di­tion­ing and the up­com­ing Kingston cam­paign.

“I grew up play­ing with them and now we can have our se­nior var­sity sea­son,” Hayner said. “We’re go­ing to try to have a great sea­son and go all the way. We’ll see how it goes.”

TA­NIA BARRICKLO — DAILY FREE­MAN

Jef­fery Hayner signs his let­ter of in­tent to Ni­a­gara University sur­rounded by his fam­ily, coaches and guid­ance coun­selor.

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