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Class B Baseball: NightHawks' large pitching staff builds confidence for upcoming season 

Having 20 players show up on the first day of practice, with nearly half having the capabilities to throw strikes, is a good way to start the season — minus all the snow.

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Junior Tanner Defoe on the mound on the first day of practice for the Hettinger - Scranton - New England baseball team in 2022.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

DICKINSON — Hettinger-Scranton-New England baseball squad is deep in their bullpen, which could greatly benefit them down the stretch of the season. Having 20 players show up on the first day of practice with nearly half having the capabilities to throw strikes is a good way to start the season — minus all the snow.

Last year, the NightHawks finished fifth in the regular season and nearly secured a state qualifier at their hosted Region 8 tournament. The goal, like every year, is to peak at the end of the year and head coach Nolan Dix is confident that last year's woes will be made up with the experience and leadership on the squad.

“Not losing a pitcher last year was kind of nice and I think seven of my nine starters in the lineup are back, so it should be a fun season,” Dix said. “If our pitchers do what I think they can do and if we can hit the ball, I think we are going to be okay.”

The team lost three seniors from last year, but not one was a pitcher — returning five pitchers, going eight deep intotal. Two of the big names will be Devin Greff and Maddox Peirce, who both proved to be aces on the mound last season, by leading the team in strikeouts. Joey Perkins is set to come in as relief.

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Junior Devin Greff pitches for four innings, delivering 9 Ks.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Both juniors Perkins and Pierce, were named to the 2022 All-Region team and will be leaders for the squad. However, coach Dix said that their team is filled with upperclassmen who go above and beyond for their younger athletes and make sure they are all prepared for game day.

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“I got kids that love the game and want to teach the game to the younger kids,” Dix said. “I think I am going to have a lot of leaders on this team.”

The catcher's position, left behind by Gavin Dalley, is already filled by junior Jaron Frank. Frank collected a good amount of experience during last year's season and during summer, which will make him a great pairing for their large pitching staff for the next two seasons.

“Jaron Frank really stepped up last year,” Dix said. “Jaron knows what he is doing back there, all my pitchers love pitching to him … [catching] is a thankless job, but at the end of the day our pitchers love who catches and he enjoys it. If I can keep his love of the game from behind the plate, we are going to be sitting nicely for a very important position on the team.”

The NightHawks were slated to battle Heart River on April 11th, but the continued snowy conditions will likely see them on diamond against Shiloh Christian on April 14th, at home.

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Hettinger-Scranton fights to stay alive in regional baseball tournament match-up against the Washburn co-op on Tuesday, May 23.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“We are just excited for baseball,” Dix said. “We are in the same boat as everyone else … But once we start getting games I think the fans are going to come out and they are going to see competitive baseball.”

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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