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Hawks baseball team reap rewards at team banquet

By Keith Thompson. ROCKWALL – The Heath Hawk baseball team drew the final curtain on an illustrious 2011 season by honoring team players and coaches at their baseball banquet held last night at Culpepper’s Steak House in Rockwall.

Players, parents, and Hawk baseball supporters were in attendance to celebrate both the team’s and individual player’s seasons.

It was a somewhat subdued audience, as the sting of a 4-2 loss this past Saturday in the regional final, to an opponent most everyone agreed was less talented than Heath, was still being felt. However, coming one game short of the Final Four is still a tremendous accomplishment and all Hawks should be proud of the sustained level of excellence the team displayed all year.

Coach Greg Harvey did not dwell on too many statistical accomplishments stemming from his team’s 36-9-1 record but instead focused on the efforts extended by his players through a grueling off-season program and the long grind of a four-month season.

He emphatically pointed out how proud he was of the resilience of his boys as they never lost consecutive games all season. He made it very clear that the expectation of the 2012 season is to be in Round Rock for the state championship and that the returning players should brace themselves for what he promises to be the most grueling off-season conditioning program they have ever had at Heath.

There were some nervous laughs emanating from the players’ table following that remark.

Coach Harvey introduced all varsity players and commented on each as they lined up across the stage. He then moved into the individual awards portion of the evening by recognizing players selected for recognition by the District 10-4A head coaches.

Timbo Duncan, a junior, in honor of his role as designated hitter and occasional 1Bman received “Second Team Utility Player.” Duncan supplied the Hawks with 6 HRs and 35 RBI this year.

Junior right fielder Austin Stewart was also named to the 10-4A All District Second Team as an outfielder in recognition of his efforts both at the plate and his prowess as a rifle-armed outfielder. “Stewey” ended up with 11 doubles and 25 RBI for the year.

Another junior, catcher Jake Bledsoe, was chosen “First Team Catcher”. Bledsoe was one of Heath’s most reliable two-out hitters this year and he ended up with 44 RBI on the season with 4 HRs. Bledsoe was a transfer from the Houston area and was a big force in the line-up all year.

Senior outfielder Nick Peterson earned “First Team Outfielder” following a solid year of superb play in centerfield and the second highest batting average on the team at .415. “Petey” was not in attendance as has already reported to the United States Air Force Academy where he will continue his education. A super young man and great player, he will be missed greatly.

Another outstanding season was put together by Bret Boswell, the “Bos”. This very gifted sophomore shortstop was chosen by coaches to receive the “Underclassman of the Year” award. “Bos” is a smooth fielding SS with the nerve of a cat burglar. He never failed to make the play in crucial situations and often made difficult plays look quite ordinary. Having that kind of defensive prowess is one thing but Boswell is far from one dimensional. He brings great poise to the plate and possesses a lightning quick bat. “Bos”, batting in front of Jake Thompson and Jovan Hernandez, set a school record for runs scored with 57. With 5 HRs and 13 doubles to go along with a .390 season average it is quite apparent that he is, not only a star of the future, a star performer right now.

The multi-talented Jovan Hernandez (right photo above) was honored as 10-4A’s “Pitcher of the Year,” following a 6-0 record on the mound in district play, highlighted by a no-hitter against Wylie East in the regular season finale. Jovan ended the season with 11 wins and a school record 1.32 ERA. Hernandez has been providing Harvey with wins on the mound since his freshman year and this year was his best yet as a pitcher. Jovan is also one of the most feared hitters in the state and he proved it once again in 2011 by pounding out 11 HRs, 16 doubles, and 53 RBI while hitting at a .393 clip.

Jake Thompson (left photo above) was chosen for the second consecutive year as 10-4A’s “Most Valuable Player.” The big right-hander was fantastic at 1B and on the mound while amassing 12 wins to tie the school record set just last year by James Baune. Thompson also totaled 133 strikeouts to establish a school record. At the plate, Big Jake hammered opposing pitching all season. He ended up with a .504 average and clubbed 15 HRs, 17 doubles and knocked in 58 runs. He also drew 40 walks which greatly reduced his opportunities. Thompson established new school standards in HRs, 2Bs, and on base percentage. Although no records are kept in this area, the seven playoff home runs hit by Jake will certainly be hard to match.

Coach Harvey was honored by his peers as he was selected the “Coach of the Year” for District10-4A. Harvey and his superb coaching staff of Steve Arias, Zach Randle, Josh Rohmer, and Zach Butler expertly guided a team with five new starters to a district championship and they came within inches of advancing to the state final four. Hawk kids were prepared, they were competitive, and they were classy in their on-field actions. This is all a testament to Greg Harvey and his coaching staff. With eight returning starters, it may be wise for Harvey to start finding a spot for next year’s coaching award.

Awards were also given to players as chosen by the players and coaches. It was also announced that graduating seniors Blane Wynn and Nick Peterson were the recipients of scholarships from the booster club. Congratulations and good luck to them, along with the third senior, Caleb Copley.

Nick Peterson was selected to receive the Fighting Hawk award in tribute to his excellent leadership and manner in which he approached the game. This is a very prestigious award as it indicates that the people you work with everyday admire and respect you.

Jake Thompson was voted the winner of the “Team MVP,” “ Pitcher of the Year” and “Clutch Hitter of the Year” awards.

The Hawks soared high in 2011. The challenge of 2012 and a trip to Dell Diamond lurk just around the corner. There is a very talented group of Hawks returning and a very motivated head coach and coaching staff greatly anticipating the task.

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