Hawk Baseball Enters Season on Top - 01/25/2012
BIG SPRING – Being on top is no stranger to Hawk baseball and this year will be no different if all goes as planned. As the Perfect Game pre-season polls were announced earlier today, the Hawks find themselves perched in the #1 slot for the 2012 season.
“We are at a point in our program right now where we feel that we should be competing for a shot at the National Title every year,” said Britt Smith, head coach and Hawk athletic director.
“But at the same time, we focus completely on the process as coaches, sharing our expectations with the players and pushing them to play up to those expectations. That keeps us from dwelling on the results and polls too much.”
Few can forget the historic 2009 season that brought the NJCAA Division I Baseball Championship home to Howard College Baseball but with the new roster sizing up for the season, Smith thinks he has an outstanding chance for a repeat.
“We have a solid group of returners from the 2011 team and probably have one of the most talent rich classes that we have brought in at Howard as far as our new recruits,” said Smith.
Returners often provide leadership for the team and with players such as Michael Franco, who was the WJCAC pitcher of the year as a freshman, how can you go wrong. To add to Franco’s strength, Austin Blunt and Nick Sawyer will also be returning to the mound as Hawks, both bringing experience and skill to the deep pitching staff.
“The depth of our pitching staff has to be the biggest strength coming into this season,” added Smith. “We feel that we have more quality depth than we have ever had on the mound.”
Other key leaders returning from the 2011 season are Paul Hendrix and Brendan McCurry on the middle infield, Todd Ritchie and Jordan Allen covering the outfield and C.J. Manning as catcher.
Smith feels confident in his defense adding, “Hendrix and McCurry are two of the best defenders we have had together in the middle of the diamond and Todd and Jordan bring continuity to the outfield as well.”
With a “TEAM over Me” mentality, the Hawk baseball club is shaping up to be a hot contender for the return trip to Colorado in the spring. Valuable experience and fresh young talent will help the team to stay focused on hard work and staying healthy and let the conference, regional and national recognitions fall into place naturally.
Still yet, the season will play out one game at a time and the level of play in every outing will determine theteam’s success. “We tell our kids everyday that this program is where it is today based on hard work and self-sacrifice and that is exactly what will get them where they want to go.”
Coach Smith has not forgotten the overwhelming support his teams have seen from the Big Spring and surrounding communities and he conveys that message to his players.
“We want our players to know that although most all of them are from more than 250 miles from home, they are representing a great community of good, honest, hard working people. We want them to know it is their responsibility to make sure they understand what that means and how their decisions and effort not only represent them but this college and community as well.”
The much anticipated season gets underway February 2nd and 3rd with doubleheaders against Frank Phillips College at Jack Barber Field on the HC campus.
Smith, along with assistant coaches J. Bob Thomas and Roberto Martinez, have the team prepared for the task at hand. “We’re excited, we’re ready,” adds Smith. “The team has worked hard and they are ready to compete.”
The season home openers will kick off at noon on each day with free admission to all.
For more on Hawk Athletics, HC Hawk Baseball and updated schedule and results, visit www.hchawk.com.