Sandwiched in between the hot days of summer and tournament basketball is America’s Pastime, baseball.
By COLE BENZ | Record Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hettinger/Scranton/New England Night Hawks are coming off a tough season, and new Head Coach Nolan Dix is hoping his team’s hitting can carry them to a better record.
“At the Babe Ruth level, we had good hitters,” Dix said. “I would hope that would kind of carry into [high school].”
Dix takes over for Blake Honeyman.
Dix said the team lost three quality seniors to graduation last year, with only one on this year’s roster. They may have another senior, but an injury during the football season may hinder his availability.
With the lack of senior leadership, Dix said his younger players are going to have to play a major part with the team.
“These Babe Ruthers that are now moving up to Legion, and high school, are going to have to step up,” Dix said.
Dix knows those young kids well, he has coached them since youth baseball and has served as the Babe Ruth coach in previous seasons.
“[Some of] the kids that are coming up through I’ve coached since coach-pitch,” Dix said.
Along with the one senior, the team features one 7th-grader, two 8th-graders, eight freshmen, three sophomores, and three juniors.
The team is made up of seven players from Hettinger, seven from Scranton, and four from New England.
The team opened practice on March 21, and the season culminates with the state tournament on June 2.
The Night Hawks open their season against Dickinson High School’s Junior Varsity team in Dickinson, and finishes the year at Beulah on May 12.
Hettinger/Scranton/New England are scheduled to play 22 games this year and play their first three match ups on the road before their home opener on April 19 against Washburn/Wilton/Center-Stanton.
Their Region 8 opponents include Beulah High School, Hazen High School, Kidder County, Shiloh Christian, and Wasburn/Wilton/Center-Stanton.
As Dix opens his first season as head baseball coach, he was certain the team will be improved at the plate.
“I guarantee we’re going to hit better,” Dix said. “We’ll hit better this year.”
He also added that the performance in the field should see improvements from last year.
“The kids that we have, love the game of baseball,” Dix said.
The Night Hawks last made it to the state tournament in 2011, defeating Watford City for seventh place.
Assisting Dix this year will be Larry Teibor.