Hawks kick off 'promising' new baseball season
The old adage in baseball is pitching and defense wins championships. If that’s the case, the Hanahan Hawks should be region and state contenders for the next few years.
“I really think we have a chance to be competitive,” said coach Brian Mitchell, who guided the Hawks to a 17-8 record last spring. “We lost some good guys, but we have some promising players.”
The team’s strength will be defense and pitching. The pitching staff is young, but holds great potential. But the Hawks must be able to come up with key hits to get runners across home plate.
Mitchell, who has been at Hanahan for 18 years, including 15 as head coach, might be the biggest beneficiary of the College of Charleston’s recent coaching changes.
Two newcomers on the 2018 team have fathers who are assistant coaches on the Cougars’ team. They are junior pitcher Charles “Mac” Toman and eighth-grader Brick Nichols. Toman’s father, Jim, is the recruiting coordinator for the College of Charleston. Jim was a longtime head coach at Liberty. Nichols’ father, Kevin, will serve as the hitting coach.
The younger Toman is a left-handed pitcher who throws 80-83 MPH. He knows how to pitch and relies on rotation. Brick Nichols is only an eighth-grader who could be on the varsity when the team begins its season.
There are seven seniors who have plenty of experience and should provide the defense. Returning outfielders include rightfielder Addison Birkbeck and centerfielder Jalen Gibbs, who was just named all-state in basketball.
The infield is sold with Brooks Cribb at third base, Michael Rusciolelli at shortstop, William Laith at second and Cooper Dawson at first. Rusciolelli’s father, Andy, is the baseball coach at Academic Magnet, while Dawson, at 6-5, 250 pounds, should be a big-time defensive end recruit next fall.
Junior Jonathan Barham is solid at catcher.
Toman, who was pitcher of the year for his old high school team in Virginia last spring, heads up a promising pitching staff.
Keep an eye on freshman right-handed pitcher Aidan Hunter, who “will be a horse by the time he leaves here,” Mitchell said. His older brother, Skylar, was a standout pitcher for The Citadel.
Luke Litwin battled injuries last year and should be back in form. He can be effective as a pitcher in 2018. Trey Pooser is another quality pitcher.
Andrew Harper will provide hitting as a DH and will also see action on the mound. Sophomore Randy Scott will be a utility player with a potent bat. His position in the field will be determined by who is on the mound on a given day.
The big concern is scoring runs in clutch situations. That came to a head last spring when the Hawks lost a one-game playoff to Bishop England that determined the Region 7-AAA champion. The Hawks lost a 4-3 decision to the Bishops, stranding 12 runners.
That gave the Bishops a better playoff bracket, Mitchell said. The Bishops went on to win the state championship.
The Hawks will scrimmage with West Ashley on Feb. 22 and Wando on Feb. 26, before starting regular season play at home on March 5 against Fort Dorchester.