Despite injury, Dover’s Hutchins an ironman for Hens

Dover High grad Jordan Hutchins (2) is congratulated after hitting a homer for Delaware this season. (Delaware sports information/Jeff Fannon)

DOVER — Jordan Hutchins knew something was going on with his right shoulder.

But he had no idea how bad it was until he tried to throw the day after injuring it.

“I couldn’t throw a baseball 10 feet,” said the former Dover High standout. “My shoulder wouldn’t let me. It hurt too bad.

“I was actually extremely scared. … The last thing you want to hear is that you need surgery. But it almost relieves you that they know what’s wrong and they can fix it.”

A freshman on the Delaware baseball team in 2017 at the time, Hutchins had torn his rotator cuff in three places after diving for a ball. He ended up undergoing surgery and missing the remainder of the season.

All of which makes the rest of Hutchins’ college career sound more remarkable.

Before the season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic in March, Hutchins had started in 69 straight games over two seasons for the Blue Hens. And he’s done it while playing all over the place.

Including a brief relief stint before he got hurt. Hutchins has played in every defensive position except catcher, first base and right field for Delaware. Now a junior, the former state Player of the Year takes pride in his versatility.

“We always have a joke,” said Hutchins. “Whenever they have position guys do something, they’ll be like, ‘All right infielders grab this, outfielders grab this.’ I’ll be like, ‘What do you want the utility guys to do?’

“Sherm (Coach Jim Sherman), ever since he recruited me, one of the first things he told me was like, ‘Obviously you can play short but I really see you playing the outfield here.’ He’s like, ‘I feel like you can play anywhere.’ I said, ‘I’ll play anywhere you want. I feel like I can do it.’ “

A year ago, Hutchins made first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association as an outfielder, playing both left and center. At the plate, he collected a team-high 42 RBI with 16 doubles, four homeruns and 34 runs scored.

But his year, he moved to second base for Delaware’s shortened season. In 15 games, he was hitting .286 and was second on the squad with three homers and 26 total bases.

Hutchins’ two-run, ninth-inning homerun gave Delaware a 9-7 victory over North Carolina A&T.

Hutchens, who also played soccer and was a football place kicker at Dover, said he’s joked with Sherman about letting him play all nine positions before his career is over.

“Every day I go to the field, I don’t really don’t know where I’m playing,” he said. “It’s kind of a cool feeling. It definitely keeps you mobile and versatile.

“You’ve got to make sure you put in work at every position. I’ll bounce around when they’re doing outfield drills. Then, when they’re doing infield drills, I’ll go there. It makes me feel good that I can be out there and do my part.”

Being a baseball player coming back from a serious shoulder injury isn’t easy, either.

Hutchins couldn’t even start throwing again until five or six months after the surgery. Even then, there were still hurdles — both physical and psychological — to be cleared.

Hutchins figures it was probably a year before he felt close to 100 percent again.

“It took me a long time to learn how to throw and be comfortable,” he said. “In the back of your mind, there’s always the fear that you’re going to hurt it again.

“It felt weird. It felt like I had to train myself on how to simply throw a baseball 90 feet again. There’s all these rules and you know they do it for a reason. So when they finally let you (throw and dive headfirst), you’re like, ‘Well, am I actually ready to do it?’ There’s a lot of questioning what to do.”

That season that Hutchins was sidelined, the Hens won the CAA Tournament and went to an NCAA Regional in Texas. Hutchins begged to make the trip and Sherman found a spot for him.

“It was the best baseball experience ever — and I didn’t even get to play in it,” he said.

Without the injury and the pandemic, Hutchins’ playing career would be over right now.

Now, however, he’s got two seasons of college eligibility remaining. Hutchins plans on taking full advantage of them.

Once he finishes up his degree in Business Management, Hutchins thinks he’ll go for his MBA. After playing in 108 career games so far at Delaware, he’s looking forward to plenty more.

“Play as long as you can,” said Hutchins. “You only have a small time. I’m lucky enough to have played a lot more than a lot of other people. I’m going to try to drag it out as long as possible.”