07/05/2011 10:35 AM
A year ago, the Hyannis Harbor Hawks found themselves 16 games under .500 and in the basement of the Cape League’s West Division.
With nowhere to go but up, Hyannis is out to make a statement this season. And a statement they have made.
The Harbor Hawks have opened the 2011 campaign with one of their best starts in years, surging to the top of the Cape League standings with a 12-5 record.
Although Hyannis was home to Cape league batting champion and All-Star John Ruettiger (Arizona State) last season, the club had to overcome some significant holes, said field manager Chad Gassman.
“Last year we lost nine players to Team USA and the draft,” Gassman said. “And that’s not complaining, that’s just the reality of this league. It happens to every team and last year we just got hit hard.”
But 2011 has proved to be a different story.
“The main difference this year is that the guys we recruited showed up. This is the team we picked and these guys are coming together,” said Gassman.
With a deep roster and an excellent offensive output (at least four players hitting over .300) Hyannis has thus far enjoyed the fruits of timely hitting.
“I think the most effective part of our game right now is offense,” Gassman said. “We’re causing activity on the base paths and just making things happen.”
Offense hasn’t been an issue for right fielder and DH Adam Walker (Jacksonville), who has two home runs and 10 RBIs in 16 games.
“I’ve tried to be calm and just have fun at the plate,” he said. “I know that every player in this league has talent, and I’m just trying to get the most out of this experience as possible.”
Walker is just one of what has proved to be a roster full of leaders.
“There is no one leader,” Gassman said. “I could go on and on naming at least 20 guys who have really stepped up. This is just a group of great kids.”
In a league featuring the nation’s best amateur players, Gassman says it’s his club’s attitude that sets it apart from the rest.
“We had a rough patch there where we lost a few games in a row but we really bounced back. The guys are just picking up and running with our philosophy. They’re buying into it and helping each other when needed,” said Gassman.
Only time will tell how far the Harbor Hawks can carry their success, but it’s clear that last season is already a thing of the past.