MORGANTOWN — When Trinity Christian pitcher Tucker Livengood started researching colleges he might attend, he had two goals in the forefront of his mind: Get accepted into nursing school and continue his baseball career, in that order.
“The decision was pretty much a 50 percent split with nursing and baseball,” he said. “It was actually a little more nursing, but I wanted baseball to come with it.”
As Livengood took a look around at schools that could fit both his needs, one began to stick out: Waynesburg University.
The small college is nestled in the mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania, just a half hour from Morgantown. The nursing program was ranked 49th in the nation as recently as 2016 by the Nursing Schools Almanac, and the school competes at the NCAA Division III level — known for giving lesser-known recruits that are serious about academics a chance to continue playing.
Livengood sent in his application and was accepted. From there, he moved on to discussions with the baseball program, and the decision came easily.
“I got accepted to the nursing program, which was my main goal. From there, I started talking to the coach, and they wanted me to come,” Livengood said. “I figured, I’ll go play baseball too. I was pretty pleased with how it worked out.”
The atmosphere provided by his new coaching staff and the potential he sees in his fellow incoming freshmen particularly excited Livengood.
“They’re really cool. I love them a lot, and I think it’s a really good program to come into. I’m excited to build on the freshman class they’re bringing in; I think we have a pretty good group of guys, and I think we’ll be pretty good.”
TCS head coach Darrell Barnett sees a lot of collegiate potential in his star pitcher, and expects inviting Livengood on to the squad will pay dividends for a Waynesburg program that went just 10-22 this season.
“I think Waynesburg has signed a great kid with a lot of athletic ability,” he said. “I think he will do well there.”
Barnett heaps nothing but praise on Livengood, whom he credits with keeping the Warriors fighting in close games this spring.
“Tucker pitched very well for us this year,” he said. “We were young and inexperienced in many positions, and he kept us in many games.”
Livengood was also spirited about the chance to represent his soon-to-be alma mater at the collegiate level, and hopes his journey will inspire future Warriors to make a similar jump after high school.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” he said. “We don’t have too many Trinity kids go play college sports, so it’s pretty cool to be one of the ones to lead the way and have other kids go.”
As he prepares to head off to a new home and a new squad this fall, Livengood looks to improve his strength, as well as his ability on the mound. Mainly, though, he looks to be proactive in becoming the type of player Waynesburg wants on the diamond.
“I need a lot more weightlifting, and I want to bump my velocity up; I want to try and get it to the mid-high 80s,” he said. “I want to work with them and see what they want me to do.”