Former Goddard baseball coach Alan Edmonson was leading 8-1 against Deming at the state tournament last spring. Needing to get work for his bullpen, Edmonson turned to 6-foot-1 junior Tyler Hardwick.
Hardwick shut down the Wildcats’ hitters, three up and three down. In that game, Hardwick struck out the first two batters he faced and got the third batter to ground out to third base. Those three outs were pivotal in keeping the starting staff rested and the bullpen sharp, as the Rockets continued their assault on their first Blue Trophy in four years.
Hardwick is back for his senior year along with Cameron Stevenson and others. On Wednesday, Hardwick signed his letter of intent to continue his career at the New Mexico Military Institute. Stevenson signed Tuesday to attend the University of New Mexico.
Hardwick loves the idea of getting an education at such a prestigious university that has been home to such athletes as Tom Brookshier and Roger Staubach.
“He’s got pitching arms for sure,” Edmonson said. “When he was a freshman, he was just one of those guys whom you looked at and knew he was going to be one of those dudes, that he might be a late bloomer, and that by the time he was a senior you’d be hearing his name a lot. I really believe he has No. 1 type starter stuff, and the rest of the state is going to be hearing about him.”
Edmonson thinks his former team had such a deep pitching staff the last five years that it enabled some of his pitchers to get better by watching, even though they did not pitch in a lot of games. What Edmonson likes about Hardwick is that he doesn’t feel pressure when he’s on the mound, and no situation is too big for him.
In a reliever’s role as a junior, Hardwick was 2-0 with one save with a 2.14 ERA with 21 strikeouts. Going into his senior season, with graduation and experience he looks to be one of the aces of the staff, taking the ball on the mound as a starting pitcher. He has already begun working out for this season.
“Tyler’s a kid we have known about close to a year,” said NMMI coach Chris Cook. “What I like is that he has played on a good high school team against good competition, and he’s received good coaching, with coach Edmonson and Henry Villareal and Kevin Whalen.”
Cook thinks that Hardwick is one of the best-kept secrets as far as pitching prospects go across New Mexico. With his time spent playing on his travel ball team, Cook likes his maturity and growth as a pitcher and is expecting a big senior year out of him on the mound this year.
“He’s a guy we needed to make a run at,” Cook said. “I feel really happy to have him. I think he has a chance to be good down the road. I look for him to compete as a freshman for a starter’s role, he’s got good stuff.”
During the summer, Hardwick has gotten better and improved his delivery and his secondary pitches. He throws between 85-87 mph and wants to hit those marks consistently. Not only does he want to work on his velocity, but he wants to get better at throwing his out pitch, which is a change-up for this upcoming season and beyond. Hardwick throws four pitches; a fastball, curveball, change-up and cutter.
“What I like about Hardwick is he has a four-year prototypical college build,” Cook said, “and durable mechanics.”
As a 4.0 GPA student, Hardwick wants to be an engineer once his baseball career is over. He likes that NMMI has an excellent math program.
“It means a lot for me and his mother, Jessica, to be able to watch him play and get an education,” said Hardwick’s father, Tyler Hardwick Sr. “This is not a one- or two-year decision, but a 20-year decision. We talked to him about where NMMI is going to take him in the future.”
Outside of being a Roswell All-Star and going to regionals where he played against teams from Oklahoma and Louisiana, Hardwick counts this as one of the most exciting things to have happened to him outside of winning the Blue Trophy last season.