Brentwood's Hogue to showcase his baseball talents in All-America event

| Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

When Brentwood's Derek Hogue suffered a concussion while playing football in August of his junior year, he had no idea the next six months would be filled with tests, evaluations and uncertainty about his baseball career.

All of which makes his selection to the Under Armour All-America preseason tournament to be held Jan. 17 to 19 in Tucson, Ariz. that much more gratifying.

“That was easily the hardest thing I've ever done in my life,” Hogue said. “There was a solid month that I couldn't read anything. I couldn't watch TV for long periods of time. I couldn't even be in a room that was too bright for a long time.”

Hogue would experience horrible headaches, which caused him to miss four weeks of school.

And with every failed IMPACT test, doubt that he may not be able to play baseball again — his true passion — grew.

“When I didn't clear the second evaluation (after a month), that's when I started to question if I'd be able to play baseball again,” Hogue said. “Was I ever going to be able do anything again.”

Through all the crippling migraines, Hogue insisted he'd be back in the lineup as the Spartans' catcher.

“I know it was really, really frustrating for him,” Greg Perdziola, Brentwood's head coach, said. “He came back and had a decent year.”

A powerful hitter at 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds, Hogue slugged .275 with two home runs. Even though his batting average dropped from .355 his sophomore year, Hogue remained positive through a rough 2-12 season.

“I try to keep everybody together, trying to keep people from hanging their heads too much,” Hogue said. “Everyone starts to lose your cool at some point. We try to stay positive.”

Since the concussion complications ceased and Hogue was named to the Under Armour All-America team after a September tryout, Perdziola says Hogue has shown he's put last year's troubles behind him so far in offseason conditioning.

“Since we started offseason workouts he has stepped up and been a leader. He's trying to lead by example,” Perdziola said.

“He knows how to use positive reinforcement and make the kids feel welcomed because we have a lot of freshman on the team this year.”

A better example of his selflessness is accepting a position change this upcoming season. A catcher since his freshman year, Hogue will make the switch to third base, an area where Perdziola thinks will suit Hogue, and the team, well.

“He said he will do whatever for the team, which is fantastic,” Perdziola said. “It's what you want out of a senior.”

Focusing on baseball full-time since giving up football, Hogue wants to show he can compete with the nation's best.

“It's a huge honor. It's nice to finally be recognized for baseball,” Hogue said. “I haven't been recognized that much in the past.”

One of four WPIAL players selected for the event, Hogue already has connected with Connellsville pitcher/first baseman Tyler Henry via Twitter.

“(We) have talked a few times just about how excited we are,” Hogue said.

The Under Armour All-America preseason tournament will take place at the Nino Sports Complex, the former spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox.

Selection is based on a strong performance at a previous Baseball Factory event or recommendation by a pro scout.

Players will represent their region on one of the 28 teams competing for the tournament championship.

Other WPIAL players expected to participate include Ty Reginelli, a junior second baseman at Mars, and Brandon Nania, a senior catcher/third baseman at Franklin Regional.

Justin Criado is a freelance writer.

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