Hawken opens the 2018 season with a veteran lineup and lofty goals.
The Hawks return eight starters from the team that won the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division championship and finished as the Division III district runner-up.
Winning the league title and making a deep playoff run are among the goals the Hawks have set for themselves this spring. They also hope to win 20 games for the third straight season.
“We expect to be in contention for both CVC and district titles and we also hope to achieve a third consecutive 20 win season,” said Hawken coach Aaron Brandt. “We graduated our top pitcher from the last two seasons so we need to have someone take on the challenge of leading the rotation.”
The Hawks have plenty of quality arms in its pitching rotation.
Senior Jimmy Clark, a college baseball prospect, finished last year 5-4 with a 4.96 earned run average and 25 strikeouts. Senior Will Rowley, a Baldwin Wallace signee, was 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings of work. Senior Eli Ehrbar, an Ithaca College recruit, was 4-0 with a 1.62 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 26 innings and junior John Byrne was 2-0 with a 3.79 ERA in 20 innings. Sophomore Aidan Hussain also will pitch. He finished the year 0-1 with a 4.42 ERA.
“We have a lot of depth in our pitching staff,” Brandt said. “We need to have some of the pitching staff step up while also having other players fill defensive positions when we bring in one of the normal starters to pitch.”
Hawken’s projected lineup includes five seniors.
Ehrbar will catch when he isn’t pitching. He batted .321 with 21 runs batted in last spring in being named honorable mention All-CVC.
Charles Winans, a second team all-league and all-district selection last spring who is considering several college options, will play second. He batted .427 with 20 RBI and 20 stolen bases.
“Charles Winans is the definition of a team player,” Brandt said. “He’s moving to his third different position defensively in the last three years. Charles works on his game all of the time. He really excelled last year at the plate, showing good combination of average, speed and power. He is a five-tool player.
Shortstop Danny Murphy returns after being injured during the 2017 season. He batted .386 with 10 RBI and 30 stolen bases in 2016.
“The Toledo recruit is a superb defensive shortstop who also batted leadoff in 2016,” Brandt said. “Returning him to the lineup will provide another consistent spark to an already solid lineup.”
Quinn Orloff will play left field while Clark is slotted in right.
Orloff, a Drew University recruit, batted .446 and earned first team All-CVC and honorable mention All-Ohio honors. Clark, a first team all-league and honorable mention All-Ohioan, hit .457 with 28 RBI.
“Jimmy Clark led the team in average and was tied for second in RBI in 2017,” Brandt said. “He plays a very strong right field defensively and will have the first opportunity to fill the No. 1 starter role for our pitching staff.”
Rowley will play center field. He batted .308 with 14 RBI last season.
Junior Nick Bislich and Hussain will split time at first base and Byrne will play third.
“We have a very experienced offensive lineup,” Brandt said. “We have great team speed and our aggressive approach at the plate has been a successful combination for this group of seven seniors. The team needs to stay focused on team goals and be ready for the challenge of stepping into Division II for the postseason tournament.”