At Wilmington University, it is not guaranteed that athletes will get a full scholarship.

The players must first show that they deserve it in three phases: performance on the field, performance in the classroom and performance in the community.

By signing his letter of intent to play baseball at the Delaware school on Dec. 10, Vineland senior catcher Jimmy Hague hopes to prove he is worth the investment.

Hague chose Wilmington for many reasons. Among them are the competitiveness of the program and having the opportunity to play early in his college career. Hague went to Wilmington for a showcase earlier this year and was able to turn some heads.

"I knew he had that drive, and he caught the eye of the whole staff." said Jim Hague, Jimmy's father, who is an assistant coach at Vineland. "It is a surreal feeling."

According to Vineland head coach John Malatesta, Hague was a vocal leader on Vineland's team.

"He's our leader, he's our general," Malatesta said about Hague, "He's very vocal, and that's what you need behind the plate, he has good rapport with our pitchers."

Hague had a strong season for the Fightin Clan last year, batting .399 to go with a .400 on-base percentage.

"My biggest help was coach Malatesta," Hague said about his success. "He's a great role model on and off the field. I definitely couldn't have done it without him."

Hague will also be in the company of familiar faces, one being his former teammate, Vineland graduate Chris Lopez, who is currently pitching at Wilmington.

Hague's father has had a unique experience being able to watch his son play baseball, not only as a proud parent but also as a coach.

"Your kid is always your kid. My wife and I always let (Jimmy) pick his sport. We made sure he enjoyed it." Jim Hague said.

Jimmy Hague talked about having his dad in the dugout.

"He's not Dad on the field, he is coach on the field."

Hague is a two-sport athlete at Vineland, playing soccer in the fall. When he arrives at Wilmington, he will be focusing on only baseball.

Malatesta said he expected good things from Hague at Wilmington.

"Jimmy's best years are ahead of him," he said.

Contact R.J. Kern:

609-272-7210