Dust off the bags, get out the pine tar and send out the grounds crew. Baseball is back, and the Hillsboro Hawks are ready to make up for a lost season. 2020 hit Spring sports hard, so the Hawks are more pumped than ever to get back on the diamond and start swinging away.
We caught up with Head Coach Kevin Lucas and asked him about his collection of young hitters and pitchers. When pressed about the top performers on this year’s team he responded with, “I feel like we have a very good group of players this year and hopefully we can get back to having the success we had in 2019. I honestly don’t know that I could only pick a couple players, as I hope a lot of our players have big years. With us not having a season last year I haven’t seen any of these players actually play at the varsity level. I think we have some good talent and I can’t wait to see how we do once we get games started.”
With an entire team not having any Varsity experience, the Hawks could be a wild card this season. We asked Coach Lucas what his expectations are for this talented, yet unseasoned group. He told us, “My goals are always to win a conference championship, a district championship and hopefully go on a run in the playoffs. I think we have a good group this year that is capable of doing something like that, but we will see how thing go once we get started.”
When asked about the strengths of the team, he was blunt in saying, “I think our hitting could be pretty good once we start to play more games, but we have quite a few guys that can pitch, so that will be good for us too.” Sounds like a classic case of “you’ve gotta play the games”. Hopefully after the first handful of contests we’ll have a better read on what these Hawks can truly be.
As for the schedule, Coach Lucas thinks it could be a difficult one after some league changes, but his boys will be up to the challenge. “We have a really good schedule and we play some very good competition. Our conference schedule will be pretty tough now that we play each team twice, so that will make things very interesting.”
Finally, we asked him to shed some light on any players that may have slipped under the radar but could be poised for big things, including any defensive standouts or potential difference-makers off the bench. Here’s what he gave us… “We have a smaller group of seniors this year but they are a very good group with Noah Shuman, Gabe King, Zach Whaley, Jase Stewart, Eli Epley and Micah Cook. Our Junior class is very big and loaded with talent with Connor Jenkins, Junior Arnold, Tyler Watson, Cruz Valencia, Andrew Brody, Andrew Chaves, Bailey Heidbreder, Gavin Mahan, Ben Schambur, and Kaleb Spiller. We then have our lone sophomore in Austin Romaine, but we will expect some big things out of him.”
Lucas is an incredible judge of talent. His belief in this roster, and that they are capable of something special, speaks volumes. We’ll have to see how the first leg of the season shakes out to truly get a handle on the potential of this young club, but we will be watching with intensity and hope. Good luck to the Hawks this season. May their bats all have sweet spots and their pitches all look like BBs.