While mother nature has led the postponement or cancellation of three of the Hawks’ last five games, it was not a worry over spring break where the Hawks went 6-3 at the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.
Over the course of the five-day trip, the Hawks faced six teams including Knox College, Plymouth State University and Colby College and used the games played to gain experience for the remainder of their season.
“Our pitching and defense was outstanding in Florida,” Head Coach Matt Griffiths said. “Early in the season, those two aspects are what you want to see.”
The Hawks started off the Classic by defeating Wisconsin Lutheran College 5-2 and moving on to Knox College, winning by a score of 10-1. Second-year hurler Chris Chismar started off the tournament for the Hawks by striking out nine batters and allowing one hit in his five scoreless innings of work.
On March 21 the team continued the tournament by losing two games to Otterbein College, which dropped their record to .500. During the double header the Hawks bats, which scored 13 runs against Colby College the day before, dropped off as the team lost 5-3 and 3-1.
“That’s what Florida is all about,” Griffiths said. “It’s all about finding inefficiencies. Overall though, I was happy with the way we played.”
First-year starter Andrew Grann said the team did well during the tournament and believed the trip offered a glimpse at the quality of players across the roster.
“We did well overall,” Grann said. “We showed depth at each position and that we can compete…We can put at least two guys at every position and they’re going to do just fine.”
Griffiths said the team’s pitching and defense paved the way for the team’s record in Florida and will provide the team with a “backbone” for the remainder of the season.
During the tournament, third-year pitcher John Schmidt struck out four Colby College batters, first-year Mike Pastorino earned his first college win against Plymouth State University and fourth-year hurler Brett Harrison worked five innings against Western Connecticut State University, holding the Colonials to three hits.
Griffiths said that while the team’s pitching and defense were strong points of the trip, he was not surprised that the Hawks’ bats needed time to adjust.
“During the first couple of games hitting is all about adjusting,” Griffiths said. “They need to get used to timing and velocity.”
Griffiths believed the trip offered each player a bit of playing time, which would allow them to evaluate aspects of their game that needed attention.
“Every experience in a game teaches you what your strengths and weaknesses are,” Griffiths said. “It helps players identify what they need to work on and get better at it by working on it at practice.”
While the team came out of the tournament with more wins than losses, Griffiths said there are always lessons to learn from every game.
“We will learn more from failure than success,” Griffiths said. “Every mistake is a chance to get better…We welcome these kinds of things to work on it and get better so the team we put on the field next day is better than the one we put out the last day.”