The Hillsboro Hawks had a terrific 2023 campaign, righting the ship after last year’s underwhelming effort, but they ran into a pesky Windsor Owls team that got the best of the in the District Semifinals.
The Hawks won their first District tilt, easily dispatching the Sikeston Bulldogs 10-3, but their bats went quiet in the next game against Windsor. Despite beating the Owls twice in the regular season, Hillsboro came up short when it mattered most and fell 4-1 to Windsor on Saturday, effectively ending their season.
The week started off great on Wednesday against Sikeston, as the top-seeded Hawks jumped out early on a Cohen Linderer RBI single in the third to go up 1-0. The Bulldogs would respond with solo tallies in the fourth and fifth innings to take a brief lead, but Hillsboro was ready to erupt.
In the bottom of the fifth they slashed Windsor to the tune of nine runs and took an insurmountable lead. Two walks and an error got things started in the inning and then the Hawks just kept the revolving door rotating. Jaxin Patterson had an RBI base hit, Gavin Hite drove in two with a single, Gunner Sutton pushed one across with a bunt, Kobe Stacy ripped an RBI single and Linderer doubled in a pair to close out the scoring.
The Hawks had five hits and four walks in the inning and slammed the door on Sikeston with a 10-3 victory. Dominic Sutton got the start and went a solid five innings, allowing just one earned run on three hits and three walks while striking out four.
Offensively, Linderer made the biggest impact, going 3-for-4 with three RBI and a pair of steals. Patterson was big as well with a pair of hits, an RBI and three swipes.
Then came the Owls, and this one started out as an old fashioned pitchers duel. Neither team scored through the first six innings, and a lot of that had to do with Keynen Drury. He fired off five scoreless innings and struck out four against four hits and a pair of walks.
Things unraveled in the final inning though, as Windsor broke out with a four spot in the top of the frame. That put the Hawks behind the eight ball and in the hole 4-0. Drury managed to drive in a run with a double in the bottom of the inning, but that was all Hillsboro could drum up and they fell 4-1.
It was an unceremonious end to a fabulous 20-5 season, but an ending nonetheless. Still, these Hawks have plenty to hang their hat on. After going just 8-15 last season they improved dramatically, and played some really inspired baseball. They had winning streaks of three, five and ten games this season and managed to score in double digits eight times while allowing three runs or fewer ten times.
They had some incredible individual performances as well. Check it out:
Zach Reynolds: .438/.565/.719/1.283, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 7 SB
Patterson: .427/.520/.549/1.069, 8 2B, 117 RBI, 26 SB
Linderer: .393/.570/.525/1.094, 13 RBI, 30 RS, 30 SB
Jaxon Day hit .361, G. Sutton hit .321, Canyon Stout hit .312, D. Sutton drove in 20 and stole 24 bases and Hite drove in 15.
As for the hurlers, D. Sutton was the ace with a 5-1 record and a team-leading ERA of 1.89 and a WHIP of 1.15. He struck out 49 in 44.1 innings. Drury and Hite each went 4-0 and had impressive peripherals as well, as hitters flailed against them the majority of the season.
This is a talented team and, despite not ending the season the way they drew it up, this program is on the rise. The Hawks all have a lot to be proud of this year and their miraculous turnaround did not go unnoticed.
Congrats on a great season.