Baseball Hawks open season in Sunshine State
By Jay Hammel
The Quincy Hawks baseball team traveled south to St. Leo, Florida, for its opening weekend series as the Hawks took two out of the three games away from the Lions of St. Leo University.
There was no better venue to be at on Valentine’s Day weekend than Thomas B. Southard Stadium with temperatures rising into the mid-‘80s.
The Hawks begin the 2020 year hot with vengeance, after losing momentum the second half of the 2019 season, winning just three of their last 14 games.
There are a lot of holes to correct with six starting positions up for grabs after 11 seniors graduated last year.
The Hawks proved themselves scattering 30 hits throughout the series, tallying 17 in game three.
Designated hitter Lance Logsdon, and senior center fielder Nolan Snyder, combined for a third of them.
A couple of new Hawks to the lineup also made the most of their opportunity to shine. Gino D’Alessio and Lane Baremore, a pair of redshirt freshman infielders, both started the final game of the 3-game set and each had three hits a piece en route to an 11-3 victory.
With support from the offensive lineup, the pitching staff showed their presence with two powerful starts from two key returnees.
A four-year starter, Riley Martin, does what he does and picked up his first win on the year going five innings strong positioning the Hawks for victory.
The first game jitters never go away for Martin as he experienced his normal ‘nervousness’ stepping foot on the mound for his first-last game.
“As soon as I threw my first pitch I was locked in and ready to go. I’ve progressed year to a year learning what it takes each week prepping for Saturday start day,” Martin said.
Continuing to go through his weekly throwing progressions and studying his opponents’ lineups will be key for his expected dominance on the rubber.
“I’m just going to continue to work as hard as I can each week so that every start day I can have my best performance possible,” Martin stated.
The southpaw is no stranger to wins, and he could potentially become the Hawks all-time wins leader this season.
Redshirt junior Sam Stephens also had an impressive showing in his 2020 debut, only allowing one hit while also providing five solid innings of work in the convincing win on Sunday afternoon.
“I just tried to keep the hitters off-balance and I moved my fastball in and out and worked with what I had,” Stephens said.
The 6’3″ left-hander enters his third season with a new responsibility after being awarded ‘Reliever of the year’, and second-team All-GLVC recording a 3.18 ERA (earned run average) for the Hawks in 2019.
“I love doing both but I’m gonna do whatever they need me to do,” Stephens stated. “The biggest difference is the prep that goes into it. But I do like knowing exactly when I am going to throw, therefore I can plan my week accordingly working up to my start.”
The Hawks climbed to fourth in the country in the 2019 campaign but will be on the outside looking in with motivation knowing they are picked 38th in this year’s preseason national poll.
However, this well-balanced squad has the potential to do big things this year keeping targets on their back being selected second in the GLVC Preseason Poll.
Under the direction of Josh Rabe for the past nine seasons, the Hawks have enjoyed their highest winning percentage in Hawk history and look to continue their record-setting success in the 2020 season.