At the beginning of the season, right-hander Justin Henington was the closer for a small college in Mississippi. As the season nears its conclusion, Henington now finds himself as a reliever in advanced Class A for the Frederick Keys.
"It's very exciting," Henington said. "I feel like I've got everything to gain and nothing to lose."
Henington, a sidearm pitcher, has made one appearance with the Keys, allowing three runs in two innings Tuesday. Henington was called up from Bluefield of the less-advanced Class A South Atlantic League, where he had a 3.73 earned run average and 39 strikeouts in 311/3 innings.
Getting called up to Frederick is quite a rise for Henington, who was not drafted by any team in June after spending his senior year at William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Henington had a tryout in the week after the draft and was signed by the Orioles, who sent him to Bluefield. After a successful stay there, Henington was sent to Frederick for the remainder of the season, which ends Sunday.
"It feels great to be at this level and to get this opportunity," Henington said. "I guess I just got hot at the end of the season, and I got to come here."
Henington, 22, has gotten some advantage from his submarine style, which he has used his entire life and gives him some value as a short reliever.
"I guess it just comes naturally," Henington said. "I've always done it that way."
Henington is a Leakesville, Miss., native who played for two seasons at Jones County (Miss.) Junior College. Before his junior year he transferred to William Carey. Henington was chosen as an NAIA all-American in his junior season, when he went 4-2 with 13 saves, 81 strikeouts and a 1.78 ERA over 602/3 innings. Henington went undrafted as a junior and returned to William Carey this year, going 9-4 with a 2.42 ERA to earn Gulf Coast Athletic Conference pitcher of the year honors.