Early on in the season, the Hatton Hornets looked like the last team from the county that would be able to win a playoff game.
What a difference a couple of months can make.
The Hornets shook off a bad 0-7 start, finished 13-13 in the rest of their games, made the playoffs and became the only team from the county to get a playoff win.
Not too shabby for a young team, with 2/3 injured seniors and a first year head coach.
“Coming in I don’t want to say we came in with no expectations but we got here in the summer and we had three seniors who basically the only ones with significant playing time,” first year head coach Zane Crumbley said. “But we’ve got some good kids and I think they played really hard.”
The Hornets looked like a much different team towards the end of the season than they did at the beginning, showing development was going on throughout the season. That’s a sign that any first year coach would want to see.
“They just needed to play together. I commend the kids because they could have easily folded after that 0-7 start,” he said. “We had kids that didn’t have varsity experience but we also had kids that didn’t have any baseball experience at all in the last 2-3 years starting for us. So they could’ve hung it up after starting 0-7 but they bought in.”
Obstacles were definitely not few and far between for the Hornets this year. In addition to breaking in new starters, some of whom hadn’t played baseball in years, Hatton also had to deal with injuries to two of the three seniors they did have.
Hatton’s best player and pitcher from last year, Braedon Brown, suffered a torn labrum, keeping him unable to pitch for most of the season. Bryson Harville suffered a torn ACL in the fall which kept him out until right up to baseball season.
“We had Braedon with the torn labrum and was not able to pitch like we thought and Bryson who was cleared the day before baseball started,” said Crumbley. “So they had that on top of trying to be leaders but they came together and held the fort and that really helped us.”
Despite all these struggles, the Hornets still advanced to the playoffs, a big boost of confidence for a young team.
“That was huge for our program. Most of those kids had never really experienced that and when they realized that they could play with some of these teams it became really special. They came together, had fun and it was a great overall experience.”
But not only did the Hornets advance to the playoffs, they were also the only team out of the county to get a playoff win.
“I’m happy for the kids and for our program,” Crumbley said. “We go in as the underdog and we were able to get a win in that first game. That’s a credit to our kids because they believed that if we could get in that anything could happen.”
Hatton will have plenty of players to lead the pack going into next year.
“Trey Steadman stepped in as our top pitcher with Braedon injured and got stronger as the season went on. Then you got guys like Joseph Crumpton and Jaxon Mitchell who weren’t in the program the last couple years but really helped us out and amazed me at how far they came development wise.”
Now the goal is to turn the strong finish to the season into positive momentum heading into the offseason.
“Kids feed off that. They didn’t want their season to end,” Crumbley said. “Now I get them for a full offseason and we can go through the weight training. They’re excited and I’m excited.”