Hyder excels as ETSU relief man

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY- Trying to match the success of East Tennessee State pitcher Jarrod Hyder is like trying to bench press 1,000 pounds. It's a huge weight on your shoulders.
   The former Happy Valley standout has gone from walk-on to one of the main guys in the Buccaneer bullpen.
   Hyder currently has a 1.37 E.R.A., which is the lowest on the team. His record is 2-0 with two saves in 13 appearances this season.
   "He deserves every bit of success that he's had," ETSU head coach Tony Skole said. "Jarrod is a great young man. He's really a joy to coach. It's been nice to watch him grow and mature as a player. He's really developed into a big-time contributor for us. I'm extremely proud of him."
   Hyder was looked at by the Bucs in high school, but came to ETSU as an invited walk-on.
   Hyder didn't hesitate at the chance to play for the Buccaneers.
   "Coach Campbell and Coach Cloud recruited me a little bit out of high school," Hyder said. "I got hurt my senior season at Happy Valley, but they asked me to still come out and walk-on. I made the team, and I've been here ever since."
   Hyder is now on scholarship, and is improving in just about every outing. This past weekend, Hyder had two very solid performances against the College of Charleston.
   Hyder knows it's all about the team.
   "As long as the team is having success, I'm very happy," Hyder said. "We won two out of three, so we definitely had a good weekend."
   Hyder has become one of coach Skole's first choices out of the bullpen, but Hyder thinks he's just a small part of the big picture.
   "We've got a pretty good bullpen," Hyder said. "We've got some people down there that can throw. I'm just one of the pieces to the puzzle. Our starters are doing a real good job right now, and I think that's the most important thing."
   Hyder has been a success everywhere he's been. Before ETSU, he played on one of the most successful Happy Valley teams ever.
   Hyder's senior season, the Warriors knocked off powerful Unicoi County twice before being eliminated by the Blue Devils in the Region 1-AA tournament.
   Hyder treasured those moments.
   "I loved it there," Hyder said. "I had a great time. Senior year we were pretty good. We had a chance to play in the state if we had gotten past Unicoi maybe. I loved the coaches, coach (Bernie) Young and coach (Greg) Hyder. I had a great time."
   With high school now a distant memory for the junior, Hyder has had to make the adjustment from the high school game to the college game.
   Hyder said that one word sums up the difference.
   "Location, location, location," Hyder said. "You just can't throw it by anybody up here like in high school. Even in high school I couldn't throw it by too many people, but it's a lot tougher. You're facing the No. 3 hitter off every high school team, so it's very tough.
   Hyder isn't an overpowering pitcher, but he knows how to throw batters off track.
   "I throw all sorts of junk," Hyder said. "Off-speed, just try to locate the best that I can."
   Hyder definitely has friends he can turn to when he needs advice. He says that his teammates are very supportive, and provide a family-type atmosphere.
   "I love them too death," Hyder said. "They love me. We have a great family here. We're having a great time right now, especially while we're winning some games in the conference. It's a tremendous atmosphere right now."
   The Bucs have gone 8-1 in their last nine Southern Conference contests, and Hyder is glad to be a part of ETSU's recent success.
   "It feels great," Hyder said. "Anytime the team can win, and if your any sort of part of that, whether you're playing or just cheering the guys on, it's a great feeling. As long as we keep winning I think a lot of people will be happy.
   Hyder's greatest accomplishment has been earned away from the baseball field. Hyder is a 4.0 student as a business finance major.
   "Hopefully, I'm going to graduate this summer," Hyder said. "I hope to start on my M.B.A next year, and hopefully come out for my last year of baseball.
   With Hyder being successful on and off the baseball field, it has been a dream come true for coach Skole to have the pitcher on the team.
   "He's a coaches dream," Skole said. "He works extremely hard. He never complains, and never gripes about anything. He's a joy to coach."