POPLARVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Rhyne Hughes enjoyed a stellar baseball career at Pearl River Community College in 2003 and 2004 where he earned NJCAA All-America honors as a sophomore.
Hughes says he always had a goal of coming back to PRCC and that goal became a reality when Wildcats baseball head coach Michael Avalon offered him a coaching job and he accepted.
The 32-year-old Hughes played his high school baseball at Picayune.
Hughes had signed a scholarship offer from Ole Miss after leaving PRCC, but decided to turn pro instead. He was drafted by Tampa Bay in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
Hughes would spend five seasons in the Devil Rays organization before being traded to Baltimore in August. 2009.
He spend much of that season in Class Triple-A with Durham and Norfolk in the International League where he batted .279 with 25 home runs and 79 RBIs.
The Orioles promoted Rhyne to the majors on April 24, 2010. In 14 games with Baltimore, he batted .213 before being sent back to Triple-A.
He would play three more seasons in the pro baseball ranks, finishing with Binghamton in the New York Mets organization. In nine minor-league seasons, Hughes batted .272 with 107 home runs and 451 RBIs.
"It got to a point where I had to look at a lot of things, "Hughes said. "As hard as it was to get to the major leagues, what were the odds of getting back there. If the odds were even slimmer, then I felt like it was time to look ahead and do something else."
Hughes enrolled at Southeastern Louisiana and graduated this past spring. While at SLU, he spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons as a student assistant under longtime friend Matt Riser who was a teammate with him at Picayune and PRCC. He also played under former Wildcat coach Jay Artigues, the athletic director at SLU.
Hughes said, "Hammond was a place where I spent a lot of time in the offseason working out. It worked out really well where I could go to school and also cross over into coaching."
Coach Avalon has also added Anthony Izzio from East Mississippi Community College and retained Kyle Dolan from the previous staff.
Avalon said, "Coach Izzio has a lot of experience in this league. Of course, Coach Hughes, with his experience from playing here and being a local product, along with his experience from playing in the big leagues is very helpful to us. Coach Dolan brings a lot to the table having played here and coached here the past two years. He's a big asset for us.'