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The Drill: Speed, instinct helps Hurley succeed on the playing field

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WORTHINGTON -- Shawn Hurley, who performed for the Worthington Cubs amateur baseball team this summer, is a player who uses both brains and speed to outwit opponents. His style was on display throughout the season, impressing fans and frustrating opponents simultaneously.

In a recent game at Worthington against the Windom Pirates, Hurley walked off a big lead from third base. The pitcher made a pitch to home plate, and the routine toss from the catcher wasn’t caught cleanly. The ball bounced just a couple of feet past the mound. Hurley was off for home in a split-second, sliding effortlessly across the plate and popping up like a pro. He had just scored a run -- a run few other players could have scored -- simply by paying attention and using his swift feet.

Hurley has something that can’t be taught. Awareness. Instinct.

Two weeks ago in another game against the Milroy Irish, Hurley was at it again. After reaching first base safely, he quickly stole second base. Then, just before the Milroy pitcher began his windup to throw the next pitch, Hurley started toward third. The pitcher stopped and threw to the base in what would’ve been a close call. But the throw got away. Hurley raced home to score without another throw being attempted.

Chalk another one up to speed and instinct.

The Cubs’ summer season is over now, but Hurley -- a Worthington High School grad who attends Minnesota West Community and Technical College -- kept it interesting for the fans. He began the season red-hot at the plate, then cooled off a bit. But his feet never cooled off.

They say, in baseball, that speed never has a slump. Hurley, time and time again, proved that speed and awareness can manufacture offense when nothing else can.

The Globe managed to find Hurley recently when he wasn’t in motion on the baseball field. The ensuing interview, with video footage, can be accessed online at www.dglobe.com. Here are highlights from the interview portion:

QUESTION: Well, how’d you get so fast?

ANSWER: “Using my speed has always been my go-to move. Use your brain and your speed, that’s how I play. Playing football back in the day (for Worthington High School), it was always about my first steps here, my first steps there. I could pretty much beat anybody after that. Baseball, out in the field, you get a good step here, you get a good step there, nobody’s going to have a chance -- especially when I’m stealing bases.”

Q: We’ve noticed that you’ve added muscle and definition to your body. Obviously, you’ve been working out.

A: “The reason I’m bulking up, and stuff, is I just graduated high school and you look back on all those things, and like, ‘I wish I would’ve worked out, I wish I’d have done this.’ Then you think, ‘Maybe I can go off to college and play some intramurals or something like that,’ but you still want to be really competitive. So I started bulking up by texting my old football coach, Brad Grimmius, and I asked for the whole workout program that he used at the high school.”

Q: What’s your favorite sport?

A: “My favorite sport, it used to be baseball as a little kid, but now that I’m not playing football I really miss that. It’s weird to go from playing everything all year long in school, and then it’s not there any more.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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