Saturday, June 15, 2024

Softball Preview: Hawken Hawks

Hawken enters the 2023 season with five returning starters from the squad that finished 11-2 overall and 7-1 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division.

With several other returning varsity players, the Hawks look to build upon their success last spring.

“We have returning upperclassmen who have quickly stepped into leadership positions,” said Hawken coach Cassie Bucceri. “They will continue to produce both offensively and defensively for us as they did last season. We also have a large freshman class who leads with positivity, and athletic talent and is eager to compete. We are enthusiastic and hopeful that this season’s squad will come together to continue the improvements we’ve seen over the last few years.”

Hawken’s success this season hinges on a young pitching staff finding its way early in the season.

“Our greatest challenge this season is working out a strong pitching rotation,” Bucceri said. “We graduated our veteran pitcher last season and will now be relying on a group of young players to lead the team from the pitching mound. We are excited to have multiple pitchers this season.”

The Hawks have a group of underclassmen with experience and the confidence they developed last spring, which has trickled down to the rest of the squad.

“Our team’s strengths lie in the leadership, communication, and the unselfish approach of our players,” Bucceri said. “At the end of the day, our players want to compete, and they value team success above individual accolades. They are willing to try new positions and lead by example, always offering constructive feedback to their teammates and communicating on and off the field. We haven’t had a team with this type of chemistry in many years.”

Hawken’s lineup is a work in progress but senior Callia Holland and junior Helena Yanchar have chiseled their names into the starting lineup at catcher and shortstop, respectively.

Holland was an offensive machine last spring in earning first-team all-conference honors for the second straight season.

“Callia led the CVC Chagrin Division in all offensive categories,” Bucceri said. “She finished with an overall season average of .629. While she’s explosive behind the plate, she understood our team need for pitching depth and has put in the work to be able to help us both on the mound and behind the plate.”

Yanchar found success all over the field for the Hawks.

“Helena is dominant defensively and offensively,” Bucceri said. “At the shortstop position, she shows unbelievable range and can make difficult things look easy. She finished the season with a .619 batting average and earned second-team CVC honors. This is going to be a standout year for her.”

Hawken once again has the talent to compete for the CVC Chagrin Division title, but the Hawks have to step up on both offense and defense to help out their young pitching staff.

“For us to succeed this season, we need to push through the growing pains of graduating our starting pitcher and many fielding positions,” Bucceri said. “We have a large group of underclassmen, so it’s just a matter of growing into our confidence and trusting our abilities and above all being flexible.”


Steve Hare
Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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