By Jason Siverling
The Hawks continue to stalk their prey on the baseball field this spring. As the season moves past the halfway point, the team looks to capitalize on its success. With over 20 wins so far, the guys can look back on the early part of the year to prepare themselves for the tournament.
It will be a few days before they have their chance, though. The weather did not seem to want to cooperate early in the year as snowy conditions postponed the first few games of the season. This can pose problems when the team faces a 56-game schedule.
To make up these games required the team to play in multiple double-headers. A double-header consists of playing in two games, back-to-back on the same day. The team, a little short-handed this year due to player ineligibilities and injuries, would need to dig in to get their season off to a strong start. Because the pitching staff remains a little short, the pressure on the pitchers increases, especially on days with double-headers.
“The starters have to push out their innings to make sure there are enough relievers to pitch the next game,” said starting pitcher Trey Kirby.
And with three days of double-headers, this proves a difficult task.
“It gets tiring going back to back, double header, double header, ” said Devon Schaeffer, a pitcher and a position player.
From March 1 through March 3, the team played six games and gained five victories as the team worked together to ensure the pitching staff did not get overworked. The defense played well behind their pitchers and the bats came alive to get the team off to a great start. While the player’s feel a little bit of help from the dugout could not hurt, Coach Jennings seems to feel differently.
“While we are down a little in numbers this year, I don’t think we are shorthanded,” Jennings said, noting that the team, “battled through a very demanding schedule.” The HCC team “is about where I thought they would be,” according to Jennings.
The team has played in more games so far than any other team in the JUDCO. So when asked how he prepares himself to pitch before a game, starting pitcher Dakota Deshong says, “I listen to the same song about twenty times. No Worries by Lil Wayne.”
Kirby, Deshong and Schaeffer all remain confident that they reach pitch speeds in the mid 80s.
Trey claims that he can throw, “in the upper 80s and maybe low 90s, but the coach doesn’t like us to say that. He says everyone thinks they throw harder than they really do.”
The team had a chance to travel to Florida and Deshong described it simply as “awesome.”
While down in Florida, the Hawks faced Ontario Blue Jays, who flew in from Canada. Deshong described Blue Jays as the toughest opponent that Hawks have faced. Nonetheless, the team scooped up the win in extra innings. The Hawks finished the Florida stretch with a record of 6-4 and Trey Kirby picked up his first two wins of the season, both in relief. So how did the guys celebrate?
“If guys had their families down there, they would go out with them. They could walk to fast food places and hang out. But we did have a curfew,” Trey said.
While they were able to relax a little, the boys were there to do a job.
The team’s record so far this year shows their dedication to the game and to their teammates, ensuring that they support each other through these tough stretches of games. The success of this year’s team may bring out more players next year and show what it means to represent HCC on the diamond.