The Herts Falcons will go into the 2016 NBL season without one of its most valuable players over the last four seasons. Centerfielder Cris Hiche has signed a contract with the Dornbirn Indians in the Austrian top league. The contract is for one season only and Hiche is expected to rejoin the Falcons after the end of the Austrian baseball season.
Cris Hiche joined the Falcons for the start of the 2012 season and it is not a coincidence that his four seasons with Herts proved to be among the best in the club’s history and included reaching the NBL playoffs in three out of these four seasons. That included finishing as NBL runner-up in 2012 and reaching the NBL Playoff semi-finals in 2013 and 2015.
His outstanding performances were recognised with the award of the NBL Outfield Gold Glove in 2012 and 2013 when he did not commit a single error. In 2013 he was also the team’s home run leader.
The Chilean has also been instrumental off the field for Herts. He joined the club’s executive board as the head of the Under-17 and Under-19 programmes. In 2013 he led the Herts Under-17 team to the National Final finishing as runners-up which is the club’s best position in that age group.
The club has already started the search for a new head of the Under-19 and Under-17 programmes, but as club president, Aspi Dimitrov, pointed out “Cris has played a massive role at the club on and off the field and it will be difficult to replace him, but it is great news for the club that he plans to be back with Herts after the end of the Austrian season”.
Hiche joined Herts in 2012 after arriving from the USA where he played at the high school, college and semi-professional league level as well as at international level representing Chile at Under-12, Under-16 and now at senior level with the National Team. In 2002 he joined the International Baseball Academy in Brazil where he played alongside the legendary Cuban player, Lazaro Vargas, who won the Olympic gold medal with the Cuba National Team twice, in 1992 and 1996. Hiche then went on to play for Glendale Community College in Arizona, followed by two seasons (2005-2007) with the Athletics in Liga Valle del Sol. Between 2008 and 2010 he played for the Sahuaripas in the Mesa Semi-Pro League alongside former or injured Minor League players trying to work their way back into the pros, as well as former MLB players such as pitcher Omar Daal, who played for the LA Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks and ended his career with the Baltimore Orioles in 2003.