Mohawk Baseball Season Underway
The Piggott Mohawks started the 2013 high school baseball season Monday afternoon, traveling to Brookland to take on the Bearcats. For Coach Shawn Hearn, there will be some changes this season as an expanded roster will allow him to field both a varsity and JV squad. "We're dressing out 24 kids this year and I'm really excited about having a chance to dress that many," Hearn note. We're going to be able to offer a true "junior varsity" team this year, so there will be a lot of extra baseball played."
Hearn also has a good core of senior leadership to look to as the season progresses. "My five seniors this year are Logan Murray, Brody Williams, Jim Copelin, Cody Mantz and Enoch Richardson," he explained. "These guys have been with me since the ninth grade. They've been through a couple of regional championship and they've learned. They're great leaders and have a great work ethic--and they come in every day and do exactly what I ask them to do."
Hearn added that he will also look to those seniors to provide guidance to the underclassmen. "I know over time that they've learned the game, and if I get into a situation I can tell them to take this kid and work with him on this, knowing they had the same problem and overcame it--there will be a lot of peer coaching going on with these younger players."
The Mohawk team that takes the field this year will also be a seasoned bunch. "We're returning several starters; we didn't lose a whole lot of seniors to graduation last year--although the ones we lost were very important to us. But, on the plus side we've got some guys with game experience and in our conference that's going to be important."
Hearn also added the team has remained busy during the offseason. "We started back in November with a couple of guys and picked up a few more in December, but once January hit I had 14 or 15 guys showing up three or four days a week in the gym for practice." He added that two weeks ago the basketball players re-joined the squad, allowing full practices. "But, of course the weather hasn't cooperated so we've only been on the field two or three times. But, that old gym is such a great facility for us to practice. We've been able to get quality cuts and work on our pitching program."
He added that the team has also spent time in the classroom working on defensive plans. "I'm just anxious to see us get on the field and see what we can do," he noted.
With two dozen players to contend with Hearn will also be looking to his assistant coach as the season progresses. "Thankfully, the Lord has blessed me with a good coach in Alan Rabjohn. I know that once the season starts there are going to be times when I can turn him loose with the junior varsity and know the job will get done, and get done well, and that's a big bonus for me--and one of the reasons we kept so many kids on the roster."
In looking over the roster Hearn noted, "Brody Williams caught for me last year and did an outstanding job--I'm expecting big things out of him this year. Logan Murray will be back at first base, he's a natural born leader and has the attitude and charisma to do the job. He also knows when to slow the game down, and how to talk to players that have made a mistake and pick them up. We've also got John Morgan back at second, he did a lot of learning last year and has really matured and grown up."
Hearn added that he'll be looking to Jim Copelin as a starting pitcher this year, and the senior will be spending time in the outfield as well. "He's or go-to guy when we need a change, thanks to a great work ethic," Hearn added. Junior Austin Murray is expected to play a variety of roles including time at short stop and in the outfield.
"We've got Mason Rahn, and he's been around some and played some third base for us. Mason, and kids like Andrew Roberts have been around the program and paid their dues--and now it's their time to step up and we're going to find them a place to play if we can."
Hearn will also be looking to Cole Marlow, a transfer from Mississippi who is expected to play some at third and possibly fill-in for Murray if he has to move to the outfield. "Enoch Richardson has been a sturdy senior for us, he'll pitch some and spend time in the outfield too. Cody Mantz is our spark plug, he just gets us fired-up and he'll do anything I need--if I need him to play the outfield, pinch-run or courtesy run he's there. Garrett Cook also got a lot of at bats last year at DH and we plan on him swinging the bat good again this year. I've also got a lot of new kids, and Eli Smith has come back out this year and worked hard and done a wonderful job."
Rounding out the roster are Logan Dixon, John Copelin, Tyler Peters, Trace Stallings, Jeff Meiur, Caleb Welborn, Landon Williams, Nick Harris, Seth Lacey, Nick McKinnie, Noah May and Jordan Blascoe.
"I've also got a ton of freshmen out, and down the road after they have a chance to see these other guys on the field they'll understand what I mean when I say playing Mohawk baseball," Hearn added. "We've got a lot of experience this year, but also a lot of options, we can play a lot of different people in different places."
In looking to the season ahead Hearn noted that the formula for success was simple. "I know it sound cliché, but we have to throw the ball well from the mound--we have to catch and make the routine plays and put the ball in play--if we do that we'll be successful," he said.
In looking at the conference schedule he noted that Corning and Manila will be returning a lot of upperclassmen this year. "Rivercrest with coach Fleming is year-in and year-out always good. One thing about it is that we lost Tuckerman and picked up Osceola, and I don't know much about Coach Teague and the Osceola team," he added. "But, the thing about it is that I'm not worried about what other people can do--I'm worried about what we can do. And if we go out and do what I know we can do, then we'll come out on top."
Hearn also offered his compliments to Piggott Superintendent Charlie Powell, and Parks and Recreation Director Shannon Williams, for the care and maintenance of the ballpark. "I want to commend Mrs. Powell, her and Shannon Williams got together and are working well together to maintain the field. And, we sure appreciate Dave McDonald out there working on the field, I know he has his hands full and I really appreciate all that Parks and Recreation does for us."
He also offered thanks to Kelly Williams, Booster Club president, for all she does for the program, "I couldn't do all this without her." He also applauded the support from the other coaches at PHS, noting "I know I could go to any of them and they'll help and do and listen and you don't get that a lot of places."
"One of the greatest compliments I've ever had came from Morgan Gilbert of Tuckerman, one of the winningist coaches in high school history," Hearn added. "Last year he told me, I love coming to Piggott--you have a great field, you have a great environment and you play the game right. The way you do things here I thoroughly enjoy coming to Piggott. And when you have someone with 30 plus years of experience coaching tells you that--now that's a big deal to me."
The Tribe opened their season with a five inning game at Brookland Monday, Feb. 25 but fell 7-4. The second game was called due to rain, as was the planned JV contest.
"Jim Copelin's strong work ethic was obvious last night when he took the mound for the first time, but the defense and bats just let him down," Hearn surmised of the season opening loss to the 4A Bearcats.
The Tribe is scheduled to be back in action Monday, March 4 at Westside and will visit Tuckerman the following day, Tuesday, March 5 for a non-conference game with the Bulldogs and longtime coach Morgan Gilbert.
The Mohawks are also slated to visit Corning Thursday, March 7 and will visit Hoxie the following Monday, March 11 in the first two conference games of the season. The home opener will be a non-conference game with the Rector Cougars Friday, March 22 at Independence Park.