SPRING VALLEY, WI - Believe it or not, our 2019 season is going to start when we originally scheduled it. Tomorrow, less than 16 hours from now, the 2019 version (well, a part of them) of the Spring Valley Hawks will be taking the field to take on the Eau Claire Rivermen. A few hours later, we will play our second game against the Jim Falls Sturgeons. Barring an unforeseen weather disaster, baseball will be played. Who knew, right? Not a bit more than two weeks ago we were dumped on with about 8 inches of snow, and the misery of the 2019 winter continued. However, for some reason, with a bit of good luck and some good fortune, the snow is about all gone and sunshine is here. Tomorrow's forecast could not be any better - 70s and sunny. Perhaps a good omen for the 2019 season? That remains to be seen.
Exactly 251 days ago our 2018 season ended. Abruptly. Unexpectedly. Too soon. I didn't know the exact number of days, but I knew it was around this same time of the month back in August. We lost to a terrific baseball team in the Eau Claire Bears. To summarize what some of our guys said about them, "those guys could rake." They beat our top two pitchers. Heck, we scored 8 runs against their tough pitching staff without two of our best hitters that day. Sometimes in baseball, and in life, the stars just don't align. That day, August 11th, it just did not happen.
That same weekend, the community and my family directly was impacted by a far greater loss. The sudden and abrupt loss of an individual that left an impression on many people. Someone that had been a Hawk many years ago and someone that was close to my family. It was a jolt for many, and it put things into perspective that weekend. While losing is never easy, and something that I do not accept easily, it offered a sense of reality. The reality that you must take the opportunity you have every day of your life to be the best possible version of yourself. To tie this into baseball, that is our expectation for the 2019 season. The group of players making up the 2019 Spring Valley Hawks. To be the absolute best version of ourselves every time we step onto the field.
As with many other town ball teams, depatures happen. That happened to us this off-season. Longtime Hawk Dylan Willett has decided that now was the time to hang up the cleats after a terrific Hawks career. Willett was a Hawk since the very beginning back in 2011. You could typically find him manning one of the corner outfield spots and getting a couple hits a weekend without the ball leaving the infield. That was Dylan, but to his credit, he was about as consistent as it gets. While injuries did handcuff him at times, when he was healthy, he was one of the more consistent players for the Hawks. We hope that someday he returns, but he has a big spring and summer ahead with getting married and taking the next step in his life. We will miss him.
The other Hawk to leave, we hope, is going to be more of pause. While we don't know when he will be back, we certainly hope it is sooner than later. Another longtime Hawk Joey Helmer has gone into the military, and is currently away at basic training. His basic training is supposed to be done in June sometime, and it remains to be seen what the next step is once that is done. Maybe he returns to his shortstop position when he gets back, who knows. We just know that he has been wanting this opportunity for a long time, and we could not be more proud of him for taking on the challenge of serving our country. We commend him, and will miss him. We just hope someone can step in and fill his position, much like Dylan.
Two significant losses, but the rest of our team remains the same. The usual additions to help fill those voids and add a little more depth as well, which will supplement our roster as well. We are excited to add those guys, and cannot wait to see how they do.
Typically with this opening day Rumblings from the diamond, we do some bold predictions. Some are about as obvious as Christian Yelich hitting a HR right now, while others are a bit off the wall and less likely to come true. Either way, we enjoy providing some sort of entertainment to the readers of this website. With that said, here are a few bold predictions for the 2019 season:
Scott Sayles joins an exclusive, exclusive club of 200 career hits, 100 career RBI, and 100 career runs. While we mentioned above that Willett was about as consistent as they come, Sayles is one step ahead. He is the Khris Davis of Hawks baseball. He boasts a better average than Davis, but you get the point. Sayles is well within striking distance of this feat, and he would be the first Hawk (post 2011) to reach that plateau. To say this would be a great accomplishment is an understatement, and we look forward to watching him accomplish this in a Hawks uniform.
Brett Weinfurter finally joins the 100 hit club. Yes, we know. This was a bold prediction for the 2018 season. However, as I mentioned above, sometimes the stars just don't align and things don't go your way. While Weinfurter didn't reach this career milestone last year, he will this year. Guaranteed. Heck, it may even happen tomorrow. Let's go with that and make this prediction super bold - he will reach 100 career hits tomorrow, April 20th, 2019. He will then carry that baseball within around his parents house on Easter Sunday, asking if anyone wants his autograph. Too bad his family are huge Casey Ryan fans instead.
One of the new guys hits the first HR of the 2019 season. Who knows, it would be a cool thing to experience and be a nice way to get accustomed to your new team. We won't say who specifically, or even attempt to guess that, but we will go with it. It sounds cool, right? Let's just hope that Brandon Walczak doesn't poop his pants in excitement for the new guy.
Another Hawk will get engaged. I mean, it has to happen, right? As our team gets older and uglier, a number of our guys have found women that can tolerate them and allow them to play baseball. We certainly don't have any 10s on this team as far as looks go, which makes the fact that the majority of them having significant others that much more impressive. A number of our guys, heck all of them, have certainly outkicked their coverage but props to them. It is about the personality and the person on the inside anyway, right? We have 3 Hawks getting married this spring and summer, which is about the max as far as I am concerned. I am not sure Aaron Esanbock could survive another one; he barely survived a winter trip to Chicago. Anyway - there are plenty of candidates for this. Probability says it has to happen.
Kyle Duex makes it happen again during River Falls Days. No, this isn't a baseball reference. We all know how that homecoming went last July. It certainly was not like LeBron returning to Cleveland. This was less exciting for Duex and his new baseball team. Thankfully, there were no jersey burnings when Duex left. However, he ended up having a pretty successful evening following the baseball game. However, this wasn't without assistance and help from TJ Walenski, who is arguably one of the best wing men to ever live. Without Walenski, Duex doesn't get the job done...again.
Cam Hirshfeld reaches 50 career stolen bases. Rumor has it that Willett actually hung up the cleats because he realized he would not be able to reach Hirshfeld in career stolen bases. With that, Hirshfeld should be able to build on his career mark of 44 stolen bases and take a commanding lead. A bold prediction, but who knows. Speculation is that Aaron Rodewald is itching to steal more bases this season and has been working on his quick twitch muscles and explosiveness this offseason by eating bacon and drinking Busch Light. Bold strategy. We will see if it pays off.
Alright, that is enough. You get the point. Regardless, if these things happen, it will be a fun and exciting season. Even if they don't, we expect to have a fun and successful 2019 season. Expectations are again high, and goals have been set. We have reached our goals in the past, but still have not reached our ultimate goal. It goes without saying, and we look forward to continuing that mountain climb and will hopefully be able to experience that sooner than later. We are excited and grateful for your support, and look forward to representing the Spring Valley community and the history of Hawks Baseball.
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