Herd’s the Word

By JOE McFARLAND

It has been quite the year for Andrew Yusypchuk.

The Edmonton product kicked things off by celebrating his 17th birthday at the Tournament-12 in Toronto. He then returned to Alberta to continue honing his skills at Dawgs Academy, hoping to garner some college attention.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, putting the brakes on a lot of plans. But not Yusypchuk and his Dawgs teammates. The coaches kept putting together videos and making connections to get the word about their star pupils. Their work paid off with several players committing to post-secondary institutions over the last few weeks.

Yusypchuk was one of them, announcing in early-August that he is heading to Marshall University. No stranger to attracting Dawgs players (Peter Hutzal is now a senior with the Fighting Herd), coach Tyler Hollick is excited about what the future has in store for the 6-foot-1, 160-pound right-hander.

“Andrew is a phenomenal kid with a great work ethic,” Hollick said in a text message. “He is a success story of a kid that came into the program ready to listen and work and was able to make the necessary adjustments to really make that next jump in his career.”

Hollick has been impressed with Yusypchuk’s development with a mix of three pitches and velocity touching 90 miles per hour.

“I believe the best baseball is still ahead of him,” he concluded. “Marshall got a great player and an even better young man. We are so proud of him.”

We reached out to Yusypchuk after he made his announcement and here’s what he had to say via Twitter messages.

Q: Why Marshall?

A: Talking with the coaches at Marshall, it just felt like somewhere I would fit in and be at home. Their baseball program has also proven to be very good while playing in a really good conference. Combine that with the fact that they also have strong academic programs, I just couldn’t say no.

Q: Tell us a bit about the process (how many schools had you checked out or talked to, what was most important to you in making a decision, etc).

A: Throughout the past couple months, I have talked with a few Division 1 schools as well as junior colleges. There were things that appealed to me at every school, but when it came down to making my decision, I looked at the level of baseball, academic programs and being able to see myself playing for that program.

Q: What excites you most about heading there?

A: I am really excited about plenty of things at Marshall, but I think what I am most excited for is the new level of competition and the challenge of playing at the collegiate level.

Q: Last time we chatted it was heading into T12. What has the last year been like for you as you got yourself ready for this step?

A: This last year I have spent with the Dawgs has been crucial to taking the next step. It has been a lot of work but they really transformed me as a pitcher and a person to be able to have an opportunity to play at the next level.

Q: How difficult was it trying to line this all up in the midst of a global pandemic?

A: Obviously, this was a tough time to go through the recruiting process but our coaches did an outstanding job at getting our players recruited. They set up game live streams and took unbelievable amounts of video to make sure that our players were getting seen on a daily basis. They gave us a platform so all the players had to worry about was performing.

Q: What have you been doing to keep in shape during the pandemic?

A: For the first part of quarantine, my brother and I threw bullpens to each other in our backyard. We also lifted weights in our garage to try in shape. Then once the Dawgs started back up, we have been playing 3-4 games a week.

Q: How important was Dawgs Academy in getting you to this point? Anyone you wanna single out?

A: The Dawgs Academy has done an unbelievable amount to get me to this point in my career as I wouldn’t be in the position I am right now without them. Our whole coaching staff across the board has been next level in both development and recruiting.

Q: Who did you lean on or talk to most in making this decision?

A: When it came to making my college decision, I talked with my family and my coaches a lot about where they thought would be the right fit for me. I also talked a lot with my teammates, especially my roommates Kaden (Zarowny) and Cody (Hendriks) as they were going through the recruiting process as well.

Q: This is for 2021. So what is the game plan for the next few months?

A: The next few months for me will be time to try improve on myself as a pitcher. I will have fall ball with the Dawgs then will get into the off-season where strength will be a huge focus for me this winter.

Q: What does the game of baseball mean to you?

A: The game of baseball means everything to me. Over the years, baseball has become my life and what I do. This game has allowed me to meet many of my best friends and go to plenty of awesome places.

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