James Hulbert vividly remembers visiting the University of Richmond for the first time when his older brother was looking at enrolling a couple years back. Their tour of campus brought them to Pitt Field, where he started throwing a football around on the diamond. He looked over to his dad and said “I really want to play here.”
It was meant to be because Hulbert joined the Spiders this fall on that very diamond.
After telling his dad that he wanted to play at Richmond, Hulbert was sure to put in the work on the diamond to make sure he would receive an offer. The offer indeed came, and Hulbert accepted.
“The confidence they had in me at a younger age played a big role in my decision,” he said.
The transition from high school to Division I baseball is an adjustment. Hulbert had the opportunity to get some innings under his belt this fall during the Spiders’ Blue-Red Fall Series.
“The hitters are a lot better than they were in high school, and the defense is a lot better behind you, especially with these guys,” he said. “You have to pay attention to detail and try to hit your spots on each side of the plate. There’s more of a focus on it now.”
For freshmen especially, having the opportunity to play a couple games in the fall is helpful to get the live experience and eases some of the nerves that will be there come February.
“Putting a jersey on for the first time and going against people in a game setting really helped to get some experience so it eases the pressure,” he said.
The adjustments did not stop there for Hulbert as he had to make a decision to focus solely on pitching, dropping the hitting part of the game. Up until college, he had been a two-way guy on the diamond.
“When I came to Richmond I realized I would be able to help the team more as a pitcher than as a hitter too,” Hulbert said. “I’d be able to focus more and work on my craft and develop into a better player.”
The decision was not one he could take lightly.
“When I decided to just become a pitcher only and drop the hitting aspect that was actually a pretty emotional time for me,” he said. “I’d been hitting my whole life and I remember going to hit with my dad and my brother. Tim Miller really helped me out and tried to help me see that just focusing on pitching could be a really good thing for me.”
The Harrison, N.Y. native is one 12 new Spiders for the 2017 season. Hulbert and the rest of his Richmond teammates are set to open the season at defending national champion, Coastal Carolina on February 17.
“I’m of course looking forward to opening up at Coastal Carolina,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to getting my first appearance, and getting that under my belt because it ismobviously something that I’ve dreamt of doing.”