170618_sports_mustangs_03 (copy)

St. Joseph Mustangs outfielder Derek Hussey hits a pitch at Phil Welch Stadium.

He was 8 years old when he hit his first home run, and he’s been hooked on the game ever since.

Derek Hussey, a third-year MINK League outfielder, will be the only outfielder for the St. Joseph Mustangs in the MINK League All-Star Game tonight at Phil Welch Stadium.

“I’m excited to meet more guys,” Hussey said. “I know everybody that plays in the All-Star Game has had a good season so far, so I’m excited to see how they do.”

Nine of his teammates were picked for the game, giving the Mustangs the most of any team. Infielders Jackson Dierenfeldt, Jack Wagner, Terrance Spurlin and Drew Beazley will represent St. Joe, as well as pitchers Austin Brooks, Mack Stephenson, Cam Bednar and Jake Purl. Catcher Jordan Maxson is one of two catchers listed on the North’s squad, and Karl Koerper will participate in the home run derby.

“I think some of my other teammates definitely could’ve made it because they’re good enough, but I think I just had a good start to this summer,” Hussey said.

This is Hussey’s second time as an all-star. He played for the Chillicothe Mudcats last summer and earned an spot in the annual game. He did not make it to the contest his first year with the Mustangs in 2017.

Hussey’s chance to play is more exciting. St. Joseph is right in the on the way from his hometown of Chillicothe to his college town of Maryville.

Before heading to Northwest Missouri State, Hussey played for North Central Missouri College in Trenton for two years. In his time, he appeared in 94 games and averaged .351 at the plate. He had 149 putouts with 10 errors, only three of which were in his second season.

“I learned a lot going to a junior college, like how college worked, and I definitely got better from junior college to that bigger school,” Hussey said.

Hussey then transferred to Northwest Missouri State.

He started in 35 games his first season, appearing in 11 more. He ranked second on the team with 10 steals on 11 attempts and found himself with a starting spot in 50 games for the Bearcats for his final season.

“I got to see better players come from high school with raw talent, and then once I got to a bigger school, I saw more confined players that had gotten better,” Hussey said.

Hussey has appeared in 19 of the Mustangs’ 21 games this season. He has a .310 batting average, and wants to keep improving his game as the season goes on.

“It’s a grind for sure, playing every day with only two off days, but I love every second of it,” Hussey said.

In Hussey’s second straight year as an all-star, he’s focusing on staying active in the game for as long as he can.

“I’m not nervous, I just think of it as a chance to keep playing. It’s not really something I can be nervous about — I just have to keep trying and keep playing,” Hussey said.

Amanda Sullivan can be reached

at amanda.sullivan@newspressnow.com Follow her on Twitter: @NPNowSullivan