The Herts Hawks get their season underway this Sunday at home against the London Mammoths at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead (first pitch 12:00pm). We caught up with one half of the Hawks managerial duo, Andy Cornish, to get a sense of the mood in the Hawks club house.
We are just days away from Opening Day. Do you feel ready or has the bad weather in March affected preparations?
Andy Cornish: Yes, totally. The indoor training was great, but there is a certain something that you get from playing games and getting used to the ground. Last weekend, with our first game outdoors, was something that we feel should have happened a few weeks earlier, but that is life, we all have to deal with the same situation, and I look forward to a summer of warmth!
What are your main goals for this season?
Andy Cornish: I think that this season is going to be challenging. Our main goal is to get a few wins, develop a few players and have fun while doing it.
What win-loss percentage would be seen as a successful season for the team and is it realistic to expect your team to reach the playoffs or even challenge for the title?
Andy Cornish: For the hawks, a .500 would be a successful season. We are in a season of re-building at our level, so if we get a few players playing above that, getting called up, then I will be chuffed
Will the entry of the Herts Ravens in the AAA League affect your team’s chances this season by diluting the strength of the Herts rosters across a larger number of teams?
Andy Cornish: As an organisation, we have got stronger. The AAA addition will help get the younger players, and the players with drive to increase their game. It was always going to be tough for our team, going from a post-season type team, a lot of the players were bound to get the call, and I would have been upset if they didn’t. But it does reduce some of our quality, which gives the players coming up the opportunity to shine and develop. I am looking forward to the challenge
Who are the players we should look out for this year?
Andy Cornish: I am looking forward to getting a few guys on the field, Hunter is back, Ben is new to the team, John Kjorstad is always a pro, but I will always have a bit of a moment when Nick Russell gets on the mound. Nick was a class act last year, and with a pitcher of his quality, you always have that little bit more of a chance of winning the game.
Which of your opponents in the league are likely to be the biggest challengers for the national title?
Andy Cornish: Guildford play excellent baseball, but as we found out last year, it is the midland teams that are the ones to beat.
Which league game are you looking forward to most?
Andy Cornish: The first home game. Always.
The postseason playoffs will be played at the brand new Farnham Park. Will this act as an even greater incentive for players to reach the postseason?
Andy Cornish: It is always a pleasure to play at home, and especially for the post season, so I will miss that. Herts has grown so much over the last few years and we would have liked Herts to continue to be the home of baseball for post-season. The new Farnham Park is always going to have a special place from now on, and that additional excitement to go to another field, specially made for baseball in the UK, then of course it is going to have an effect.
What is your message to Herts Baseball fans ahead of Opening day?
Andy Cornish: Hello. Come down, watch some baseball!