Hayfield Secondary School's baseball team ended last season the way it began—on fire.
The Hawks started the year with a seven-game win streak, scoring 10 or more runs in four of the team’s first seven games. Hayfield cruised through its regular season schedule and won the school’s second-ever district title as the Hawks defeated Yorktown 17-16 in the National District championship.
This season, Hayfield (8-5) currently sits at 7-2 in National District play and is determined to prove that last year’s success was hardly a fluke.
“While we did win districts last season, we only had two guys returning that contributed and played on that team,” said first-year head coach Michael Shore, who has been with the program for four years, told Patch this week. “The guys were here last year, and saw the results and now it’s their turn.”
Ten players from last year’s 20-win squad have graduated, leaving this year’s roster devoid of any veteran talent and leadership as players like Josh Eldridge and Cory Spera have moved on. Eldridge, who earned All-Met honors last season, is currently playing baseball at Old Dominion University.
The 2012 Hawks lack the experience of last year’s team, but the players have transitioned well and are currently tied for second place in the National District. After dropping the first game of the season to Jefferson, Hayfield rattled off two consecutive wins, outscoring the JEB Stuart Raiders and Falls Church 23-2.
“We did a lot of work in the off season and that’s a reflection on them. They wanted to put in the work,” said Shore. “That makes my job a lot easier. They didn’t want last year’s success to be a one and done, they want it to be who we are. And they’ve definitely done that.”
Senior shortstop and pitcher Cameron Lundmark has become one of the team’s more visible leaders. Lundmark saw significant playing time last season as a shortstop, but not as a pitcher. This season, however, he’s been Hayfield most dominant pitcher and pitched the Hawks to a 4-3 win over 2011 district runner-up Yorktown last week.
Offensively, Lundmark has been dominant at the plate while batting leadoff. He’s currently batting just shy of .500 and leads the team in runs, stolen bases, average and on-base percentage.
“His leadership is great. He’s been here the longest, we brought him up to varsity when he was a sophomore,” said Shore of his veteran leader. “He’s not a super vocal leader; he picks and chooses when he needs to talk to guys. He lets his playing do the talking.”
Senior catcher, Ben Harris, started in the same capacity last season and brings an added element of leadership to the team. And while he does not boast as gaudy of batting statistics as Lundmark, his contribution to the team is just as vital.
“I think that it’s very important to have a senior catcher who is a captain. He started pretty much every game for us last year, so having him anchor our staff has been huge for us too.” said Shore.
Senior Andrew Spicer, who has played pitcher, second base and shortstop this season, has also seen an increase in playing time.
“Andrew was on varsity last year but was blocked by seniors ahead of him. He didn’t get a ton of playing time last year, but he’s really stepped in this season and has done a really good job.”
With just five games remaining on Hayfield’s regular season schedule, Shore hopes his squad remains focused heading into the National District tournament. And while this year’s team doesn’t have the star power as last year’s, the proper blend of talent and senior leadership it possesses bodes well for a second consecutive National District championship.
“I told our guys during the preseason that our only goal is to win the district and then go from there. We have to build towards doing that and I think that’s what we have done,” said Shore. “When you’re building towards that, you’re going to hit some bumps in the road but that’s part of maturing. Right now, the team’s done a good job of holding towards that goal.”