APSU Sports Information
Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay was fortunate things didn’t work out for Rowdy Hardy at his first college baseball stop
After one redshirt year at Ole Miss, Hardy elected to transfer to Jackson State Community College, where he pitched for former Gov Steve Cornelison and led the conference in innings pitched.
At that point, Austin Peay set its sights on the durable hurler— then-APSU head coach Gary McClure always had a penchant for lefties. But not even McClure could not have envisioned what the 6-2 slender slinger was going to accomplish during the next three seasons and in the process earn the distinction of becoming a member of APSU’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
Arriving in Fall 2003, Hardy not only became the anchor of the Govs pitching staff during the mid-2000s but as well the winningest pitcher in Austin Peay and Ohio Valley Conference history. The master of the dead-fish change-up and a tailing fastball that resembled a screwball from yesteryear, Hardy won 32 games in his three years, six more victories than any other Governors pitcher in history.
Hardy made quite the immediate impression in his first season, especially during OVC play. As a sophomore in 2004, he was named the league’s Rookie of the Year after finishing with a school-record 12 wins (three losses) with a 2.90 ERA in leading the Govs to a regular-season league title—he finished 10th nationally in victories.
After posting a 7-0 league mark and 2.30 ERA, the Bethel Springs native earned the first of three All-OVC awards. He also was named third-team All-America by Louisville Slugger—APSU’s first All-American since 2000—after earning American Baseball Coaches Association All-South Region honors.
Hardy followed up his outstanding sophomore season with an equally superb junior campaign, going 11-6—becoming the only Gov pitcher in history with multiple double-digit wins seasons. He also posted a 2.63 ERA—a microscopic 2.04 ERA during league play—and was named first-team All-OVC for a second straight time. During the season he was named OVC Pitcher of the Week three times, two coming after he pitched back-to-back shutouts during league play.
Hardy also earned all-region honors for a second straight year. He was selected APSU’s Most Outstanding Male Athlete for the first of two consecutive seasons. The Govs finished the OVC regular-season in second place but defeated Jacksonville State in the title game, earning APSU’s first NCAA berth (Knoxville Region) since the 1996 season. Hardy was selected second-team All-America and was chosen to pitch the Govs’ NCAA opener against Tennessee and Luke Hochevar, who would become the top pick in that season’s pro draft.
With a team besieged by injuries—especially on the infield—in 2006, Hardy still won nine games (9-3)—narrowly missing a third double-digit victory campaign but still posting a career-best 2.58 ERA while leading the Govs to a third-straight 30-win campaign.
After completing his APSU career, he embarked on a six-year minor league career, first with the Kansas City Royals and later with the Atlanta Braves organizations. An undrafted free agent, Hardy was the Royals Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2007 after compiling a 15-5 record with 2.48 ERA for Wilmington in the Carolina League. He reached as high as Triple-A in the Braves organization.