Kingston standout headed to Niagara
Kingston High baseball standout Jeffery Hayner signs letter of intent to attend Niagara University
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.”
Jeffery Hayner signs his letter of intent to Niagara University surrounded by his family, coaches and guidance counselor.