Below are the future Hawks looking to add to these impressive statistics.
Heartland Hawks Baseball 2015 Media Guide Cover
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01/29/15 - The 2015 Heartland Hawks baseball team will begin its season as the number 12 national ranked NJCAA D-II team in the country. The Hawks finished last season 13th overall in the rankings after going 43-13, winning 40 games for the sixth straight season, and winning their fifth straight Mid-West Athletic Conference crown. Returning to the Hawks this year is M-WAC Co-Freshman of the Year Derek Bangert, who tied for the most home runs in all of NJCAA D-II with 17, and tied for sixth in the nation with 69 runs batted in. Other Hawks players to keep an eye on this year include pitchers Justin Curry, Matt Miller and Reggie Johnson, and catcher Matt Byars. Additionally, the Hawks have been ranked 40th in Perfect Games’ 2015 Top 50 Junior College Teams, which ranks from nearly 50 programs across all of junior college baseball - regardless of division.
For more information on this year's NJCAA rankings, please visit http://www.njcaa.org/sports_polls.cfm?category=Polls&sid=8&divid=2&slid=3.
01/23/15 - Heartland pitcher Colin Nowak (Carol Stream, Ill. / Bartlett) and outfielder/first baseman John Kaimakis (Wauconda, Ill. / Wauconda) have both committed to play at the University of Southern Indiana (USI) for next season. USI is a NCAA Division II school in Evansville, Indiana who competes in the very well respected Great Lakes Valley Conference under Head Coach Tracy Archuleta, who has led the Screaming Eagles to two D-II national championships in his eight years at the helm, including their latest title, just last Spring. Archuleta also has been recognized as the 2010 and 2014 D-II ABCA National Coach of the Year and the 2011 and 2014 GLVC Coach of the Year since taking over the program in 2007. He also is fast becoming the winningest coach in the history of the program with 312 victories in eight years. Coming off of last year's national championship, USI is the D-II pre-season number one entering the 2015 season.
For the Hawks last Spring, Nowak went 4-2 with a 3.69 earned run average in 8 starts, and struck out 26 batters with 16 walks in 39 innings pitched, while Kaimakis hit .333 in 99 at bats, with 4 home runs, 25 runs batted in, and seven stolen bases.
01/15/15 - An integral part of intercollegiate athletics is not only teaching student-athletes the finer points of their craft, but providing them opportunities to develop global citizenship and give back to their communities. The Heartland Community College baseball team did just that as they spent five weeks in November and December volunteering for Home Sweet Home Ministries.
During this time, the Hawk baseball players participated in a tour of the Home Sweet Home facilities, helped with the America Recycles campaign, aided with Thanksgiving Food Basket distribution and a Jewell Osco food collection, and joined in warehouse sorting at the Home Sweet Home Donation Center. Most importantly, the baseball team supported the mission and vision set forth by Home Sweet Home to serve the community by providing food, shelter and hope to the hungry, homeless and hurting.
“The opportunity to serve our community through the Home Sweet Home Mission was great for all involved,” said baseball head coach Nate Metzger. “Certainly giving back with the realization of how lucky we as athletes and coaches is a great life lesson. I feel as though you truly have to give to get in life and this experience was one that I hope our guys will never forget as well as something that we as a program intends to stay involved with from year to year.”
Hawk standout John Kaimakis added, “Helping behind the scenes and getting an inside look at how much work there is involved to provide to those less fortunate was really eye opening. Hopefully we helped as much as we benefitted.”
01/06/15 - The 2015 Heartland Hawks baseball team was ranked 13th in all of NJCAA D-2 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Additionally, three Hawks players were selected to the 2015 Watch list from across the nation. Right-handed pitcher Justin Curry, relief pitcher Matt Miller, and first baseman Derek Bangert are players to watch this season after being recommended by junior college coaches and compiled by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Bangert enters his sophomore campaign after being named Mid-West Athletic Conference Co-Freshman of the Year last season.
For more information on this year's Collegiate Baseball Newspaper polls or player selections, please visit their website at: http://baseballnews.com/.
12/17/14 - Former Hawk baseball standout Eric Aguilera is making waves in the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim minor league system as they have ranked him as their 50th overall prospect. The 6-2, 220 lb. lefty (Cary, Ill.) was drafted in the 34th round of the 2013 amateur draft and has been on the rise ever since. Aguilera is considered to be one of the Angles' "highest rising prospects as he is one of the better bats from the left-side of the plate, with power, and consistency, making him a serious threat at all times of the season and possibly one of the bigger steals in Angles' history." Aguilera put together a masterful season in Low-A this past year, which should mean a welcomed trip to High-A for 2015, where he will face tougher competition, and could have a boost in power numbers in the hitter friendly Cal League. Aguilera could be considered a steal pending his time in the higher affiliates, and "is on pace to reach the Majors in 2017 or 2018, and could be a potential starter." Aguilera ranks first all-time for the Hawks in batting average (.456) and slugging percentage (.843), is second in hits (165) and home runs (31), and is fifth in runs scored (125), doubles (33), and runs batted in (130) for his career.
For scouting report information on Aguilera or for more information on his collegiate playing career and statistical breakdown, please visit: http://angels.scout.com/story/1493271-prospect-countdown-50-eric-aguilera?s=246#/story/1493271-prospect-countdown-50-eric-aguilera?s=246.
12/04/14 - Hawk pitcher Keith Mahler (Highland, Ind. / Highland) has committed to play at perennial NAIA power the Cumberland University in Tennessee next year. Cumberland U claimed its third NAIA World Series championships since 2004 by winning the National Title again in 2014, and is led by legendary Head Coach Woody Hunt. Hunt is one of only six NAIA coaches in history to capture 1,000 career victories, and holds a very impressive 1,451-608-5 overall record heading into his 34th season as the head man. Under Hunt, the Bulldogs have appeared in 12 NAIA World Series, including six in the last 11 seasons, claiming national championships in 2004, 2010 and 2014 as well as runner-up finishes in 1995 and 2006. Cumberland has won 20 regular season conference championships during Hunt's tenure, four district championships, 12 NAIA regional titles, and has played in five super regionals as well. The program has posted 24 seasons with 40 or more victories, including 20 of the last 22 years, while registering 50 or more wins eight times, all since 1997. Lastly, Hunt has also achieved individual success in the awards category, claiming 17 Coach of the Year honors, including the 2006 and 2010 Rawlings National Coach of the Year awards. He is a seven-time Southeast Region Coach of the Year and has also been a finalist for the National Coach of the Year Award four times. Mahler led the Hawks in appearances last year, pitching 22 innings in 14 appearances with a 1.64 ERA & 2 saves.
11/24/14 - First baseball Derek Bangert (Lockport, Ill. / Lockport Township) has become the fifth Hawk baseball player to commit to a four year school. Middle Tennessee State University went 31-27 overall and 18-13 in Conference USA, which is regarded as one of the best D-1 conferences in the country. Bangert led the country with 17 home runs, led the Hawks with 69 runs batted in, was second in doubles with 14, and was third on the team with a .346 batting average and 47 runs scored. Additionally, he garnered Mid-West Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year honors, becoming just the third Heartland player to win the award.
11/14/14 - Heartland third basemen Tanner Hudson (O'Fallon, Ill. / O'Fallon Township) has become the fourth Heartland baseball player from the current class to sign with a four year school as he has committed to the University of Missouri-St. Louis next year. UMSL went 26-24 last season, and was 21-15 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, which is regarded as one of the best Division-II conferences in the country. UMSL Head Coach Jim Brady will begin his 30th season at the school in 2015. Over the last two seasons, UMSL has gone a combined 54-43 overall and 43-25 in the GLVC. As a freshman last season, Hudson batted .235 and scored 11 times in 20 games.
11/10/14 - Heartland pitcher Pat Martin (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Saint Viator) and catcher Matt Byars (Lodi, Wis. / Lodi) have committed to play at four year schools. Martin joins Auburn University which competes in the Southeastern Conference 28-28 last season. Byars will sign with Michigan State University who went 31-26 last season, and finished 11-13 in the Big Ten Conference. Byars hit .316 with 17 runs batted in and 14 runs scored as a freshman last season for the Hawks.
10/28/14 - Heartland pitcher Matt Miller (Aurora, Ill. / Aurora Central Catholic) has become the first Hawk baseball player from the class of 2015 to sign with a four year school as he has committed to play at Dallas Baptist University. Dallas Baptist competes in the Missouri Valley Conference and last season went 40-21 while making an appearance in an NCAA Regional. Over the past four seasons, DBU has gone 173-90 with three Regional appearances and a Super Regional appearance. During his freshman campaign, Miller recorded 10 saves as the Hawks closer and finished with a 3.94 earned run average and 21 strikeouts in 16 innings.
9/15/14 - Heartland pitcher Matt Miller was named to the 2014 Chicago Suburban League (CSBL) All College Team. Miller pitched for the Lombard Orioles, who advanced to the American Amateur Baseball Congress Stan Musial World Series in Farmingdale, NY. The CSBL ranks as one of the finest amateur baseball leagues around, as three of its teams advanced to separate national tournaments. In addition to Lombard, the Crystal Lake Cardinals and Beecher Muskies also advanced.
For more information on the CSBL, please visit: http://www.hometeamsonline.com/teams/?u=csbl&s=baseball&t=c.
8/21/14 - After helping the Crystal Lake Cardinals become 2014 National Amateur Baseball Federation College World Series Championship, Heartland pitcher Colin Nowak was named to the NABF College Division All-Tournament team.
8/19/14 - On August 19 at the Corn Crib, the Normal CornBelters and Heartland Community College worked to together to host a special evening honoring the life of former Hawk baseball player, Michael Collins. The CornBelters, and dozens of fans in attendance, wore Collins' number 19 with the words "MC-Strong" across their backs, and dedicated a front row seat to Michael; a seat that will never be sold again, at the stadium he loved playing at the most. The Collins family gave out 500 pay it forward cards after the game, to encourage fans to keep the positivity coming in the wake of tragedy.
For the full story please visit the centralillinoisproud.com website and check out the video: http://www.centralillinoisproud.com/story/d/story/cornbelters-pay-special-tribute-to-michael-collins/42563/FThhbtPzTE-p7WAvVZ4IkA.
7/23/14 - Jacob and Jared Hendren (Leroy, Ill / University) are enjoying their new adventure 3,600 miles and 18 hours away from home playing collegiate summer baseball for the Mystic Schooners of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
"I'm glad I got the opportunity to come out here," Jared said. "Our first time East. We're from a small town in Illinois. I've never seen this many trees and hills and water in my life. I'm used to cornfields and stuff like that."
They've not only adjusted to new surroundings, but also to higher quality baseball as they have both contributed to Mystic's success. Jacob is one of the team's best relievers, allowing just two earned runs in 18.2 innings while striking out 25 and walking eight. He has a team-best four saves. When it comes to Jared Hendren, speed is a vital part of his game, as he stole 37 bases at Heartland last season and has nine with Mystic.
"Jared is a very athletic kid," aid Mystic manager Phil Orbe. "He's batting .333 in July. When he gets on the basepaths, he wreaks havoc. Other teams have to pay a lot of attention to him."
The brothers will continue their college careers at Illinois State in Normal, only about 30 minutes from home, and they are happy to be continuing their journey together. "We've just always been together," Jared said. "It's nice to have him because he's someone that I can always count on, on and off the field. I really enjoy playing with him."
For more information on the Hendrens' experiences in summer collegiate baseball and time with the Mystic Schooners, please check out this story at: http://www.theday.com/article/20140723/SPORT04/307239966/1044.
7/22/14 - Current Heartland pitcher Justin Curry (West Point, Ind./McCutcheon) is making great strides in his development as a pitcher for the Albany Dutchmen of the Perfect Game College Baseball League (PGCBL) for the summer. Although Curry had a late start with the team as he did not appear on the mound until June 29, he has gone 11 innings without giving up an earned run, and was named the Spotlight Player of the Week for two scoreless innings during the last seven days. The Dutchmen have improved as a whole since Curry joined the rotation, and over his three appearances, he has ten strikeouts while only allowing three hits, and only one pitcher in the PGCBL has more innings pitched without allowing an earned run.
As a freshman last season, Curry made eight appearances with three starts, struck out 30 hitters over his 26.1 innings, and sported a 4-2 record with a 3.76 ERA. Curry, who was coming off an injury, said he used his starts as an opportunity to get back on the mound and work himself into top condition. “Coming out of rehab, I really wanted to just get back into the flow of things,” Curry said. “I wanted to get my mechanics back down and work in slowly.”
To keep up with Justin Curry and his progress in collegiate summer league action, please visit the Albany Dutchmen website at: http://www.dutchmenbaseball.com/home/.
7/16/14 - On August 19, the Normal CornBelters will be hosting a Michael Collins tribute night as they take on the Schaumburg Boomers at the Corn Crib at 7 p.m., and have teamed up with Heartland Community College to remember and celebrate the life of Collins, who was a member of the Heartland Community College baseball team for two seasons and was a current Illinois State University student before he passed away as a result of injuries he suffered in a car accident on April 2, 2014.
"Heartland Community College and the Heartland Athletic Department thanks the Normal CornBelters in advance for creating a special night to honor the memory of Michael Collins but even more so to help carry on his spirit," said Nate Metzger, Director of Heartland Community College Athletics and head baseball coach.
"Michael loved baseball, loved playing for Heartland, and loved playing at the Corn Crib. We are proud of the 22 years Michael spent on this earth," said Jim Collins, Michael's father. "Some of the very best days of his life were spent playing and practicing with the Heartland Hawks at the Corn Crib, and we are thrilled the CornBelters will pay tribute to him in a stadium that had a special place in his heart, and on the 19th no less."
"It is appropriate that the date would be August 19th since Michael wore #19 and his jersey has since been retired," said Metzger. "We look forward to keeping Michael's spirit alive and certainly the goal of his family and subsequent creation of the Michaels Collins Foundation is to continue to honor his legacy through random acts of kindness and a "pay it forward" attitude just like he exemplified and certainly this night will help do just that!"
The CornBelters are going to donate half of the revenue of the tickets sold from the night to the Michael Collins Foundation. In addition, they will create a blue seat behind the Heartland dugout on the third base side of the ballpark and it will have Collins name on a plate on the seat back. The CornBelters will retire the seat after that date forever. "We are honored the CornBelters are paying tribute to him with a special night and by dedicating "the best seat in the house" to him," said Collins. "We are so grateful for the CornBelters support of the Michael Collins Foundation, and for them and Heartland baseball working with us to place a memorial plaque in honor of Michael at the Corn Crib."
To stay up to date on the CornBelters, or for more information about this event, please check out their official website at: http://www.normalbaseball.com/home.
7/14/14 - Pitcher Jacob Hendren (Leroy, Ill./University) will be participating in the New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Star game on Sunday, July 20 at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke, Massachusetts, with the first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m., and an opportunity for players to showcase their skills in various competitions for scouts from virtually every Major League team during pre-game festivities. Hendren is spending his summer playing for the Mystic Shooners, and was the only Schooners pitcher to be selected for the All-Star game. He has emerged as Mystic's "go-to hurler" in late inning situations, and leads the squad with three saves. The lefty has also only allowed two runs over 17 innings, while owning a 1.06 earned run average, a 0.88 WHIP, and has fanned 24 batters to just six walks surrendered. Lastly, Jacob ranks among Mystic's top three with a 12.7 K/9 ratio (strikeouts per nine innings pitched). Jacob's twin brother, Jared Hendren (Leroy, Ill./University) , will be competing in the 60 yard dash part of the All-Star skills competition.
For more information about the New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Star game, please visit this link: http://necbl.com/view/necbl/news-1185/news_161193, and visit this link to check out the full itinerary and schedule from the day: http://www.necbl.com/view/necbl/league-49/all-star-game-13.
7/9/14 - Heartland's Aaron Cook (Littleton, Colo./Heritage) has been selected to the California Collegiate League All-Star game, which will be nationally-televised via Fox Sports Midwest (check local listings for tune-in instructions). Game time is set for 7 p.m. on July, 16 at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, California. The contest will also feature an opportunity for players to work out and showcase their talents for scouts and college coaches. For the summer, Cook is playing for the Walnut Creek Crawdads and is currently batting .280, leads the squad with 19 run batted in, and his second on the team with 14 runs scored and 26 hits.
For more information on the California Collegiate League All-Star game or to keep up with Cook and the Crawdads, please visit the CCL website at: http://sccbaseball.com/category/all-star-game/.
7/7/14 - Current Hawk pitcher Keith Mahler (Highland, Ind.) has earned All-Star honors in his first season in the Midwest Collegiate League (MCL), a collegiate summer wood bat baseball league and as a member of the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. Mahler has racked up 22 strikeouts to only five walks, allowed only five runs, and holds a 1.55 earned run average in 29 innings of work. However, he has been a victim of a lack of run support and holds a 2-3 record to this point. The MCL All-Star Game will take place on Wednesday, July 9 at Oil City Stadium at 7:30 p.m. in Whiting, Indiana.
To keep up on Mahler's progress in the summer league and for more information about the Midwest Collegiate League All-Star game, please visit the MCL website at: http://www.midwestcollegiateleague.com/home/.
6/16/14 - Former Heartland baseball standout Eric Aguilera continues to impress as he rises through the minor leagues. In his second season of professional baseball, the Cary, Illinois native now plays for the Burlington Bees of the Class A Midwest League, which is currently a Class A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization. Through 56 games with the Bees, Aguilera is hitting .305 with nine homeruns, 43 runs batted in, and a .502 slugging percentage, which are all team highs. Aguilera has also collected 65 hits, which is second most on the team, and is fourth in runs scored (29) and on base percentage (.356).
To keep up with Eric Aguilera's season please visit the following site: http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=643192.
6/15/14 - During the first Father's Day since the passing of his son Michael Collins, Jim Collins and the rest of the Collins family have found a "welcome distraction, a salvation" in baseball. Mr. Collins served as the head coach of the Intercity team in the 58th annual Pantagraph All-Star Game, an event which Mr. Collins participated in as a player in 1978, followed 32 years later by Michael's selection to the game in 2010.
“We’re a baseball family and being at a baseball game on Father’s Day makes a lot of sense,” said Jim Collins, head coach at University High. “Michael liked to have fun when he played baseball. He loved playing in this game. It was about having fun and that was right in Michael’s wheelhouse." There is a place in Mr. Collins' heart for every player and coach who will be in the Intercity dugout. Everyone has done something to honor Michael during the season. Bloomington, Normal Community and Normal West wore MCStrong#19 jerseys in games. U High’s rival, Central Catholic, wore shirts with a U High logo that read, “We Stand With U.”
For more information about this story and Michael Collins please visit the Pantagraph.com website or follow this link: http://www.pantagraph.com/sports/columnists/kindred/kindred-baseball-a-salvation-on-first-father-s-day/article_677a8fd9-ed47-5c44-b7fb-98e4e833925f.html.
Also to learn more about the Michael Collins Foundation or to help out please visit http://www.mcstrong.org/.
6/14/14 - After posting a .500 batting average as a junior at Lindenwood University in St. Louis to lead all of NJCAA D-II, former Hawk Mike Failoni has signed to play professional baseball with the Lake Erie Crushers of the Independent Frontier League, and becomes the 13th Hawk to reach the professional ranks. Failoni had a great career at Heartland (2011-2013) as he was second on the team in hitting at .391, was second in home runs (6) and slugging percentage (.652), and was tied for third in runs batted in (49) during his sophomore campaign. As a freshman, Failoni was fourth on the Hawks with a .409 batting average, fourth in hits (81), third with 14 doubles, second in runs batted in (70), and was tied for second with eight home runs.
6/7/14 - Incoming baseball players Andrew Sykes and Daniel Wasinger were both drafted this past Saturday in the 2014 Major League Baseball Amatuer Draft. Sykes was taken in the 35th round by the Kansas City Royals and Wasinger went in the 38th round to the Chicago Cubs. It appears that both players will still wind up in a Hawks uniform this coming year as neither intends to sign and will instead attend school in hopes of bettering their draft statuses. Sykes is a 6'1", 190 lbs. left handed pitcher from Valpariso High School in Valpariso, Indiana, and Wasinger is a 6'1", 185 lbs. catcher out of Eastlake High School in El Paso, Texas.
For more information on the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft, please visit this link: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/draft/y2014/drafttracker.jsp.
Congrats to Nolan for this outstanding recognition! In addition to this award, Lodden was also named All-Region and earned M-WAC First Team All-Conference honors. Lodden finished the 2014 season 10th in all of NJCAA Division-II (second on the Hawks) with 34 stolen bases, and was 19th in the nation (tied for first on the team with Jared Hendren) with 76 hits. Lodden also led the Hawks with a .413 batting average, and was second in runs scored (56) and runs batted in (53).
Heartland Baseball finished 43-13 (40 plus wins for the 6th straight season), capturing the MWAC Championship for the 5th straight year, and had several players garner post-season awards. Derek Bangert was honored as the 2014 M-WAC Co-Freshman of the Year, and was also an All-Region and M-WAC First Team All-Conference selection. He led the Hawks with 17 home runs, which was tied for the most in all of NJCAA Division-II, and 69 runs batted in, which was tied for sixth most in the nation. Bangert was also third on the team in batting average (.372), hits (67), and runs scored (49). In addition to Bangert's accolades, Nolan Lodden earned All-Region and M-WAC First Team All-Conference honors, while Pat Cashman earned All-Region and M-WAC Second Team All-Conference recognitions. Lodden was second on the team and 10th in the nation with 34 stolen bases, tied with fellow Hawks Jared Hendren for first on the team and 19th in nation with 76 hits, and led the Hawks with a .413 batting average. He was also second on the Hawk' in runs scored (56) and runs batted in (53). Cashman led the Hawks' pitching staff with seven victories and four complete games, was second with 53 strikeouts, and was thrid with a 2.04 earned run average. To round out the baseball honorees, Frank Waliczek was named M-WAC First Team All-Conference, and Jared Hendren was voted M-WAC Second Team All-Conference. Waliczek earned three wins with a 2.53 ERA and 28 strikeouts on the mound. Hendren led the Hawks and was tied for third in the nation with 37 stolen bases, and was tied with teammate Nolan Lodden for first on the team and 19th in the nation with 76 hits. Hendren also finished second on the team in average (.398) and RBIs (53).
Congratulations to the Hawks on another outstanding regular season! The 2014 Region 24 Baseball Tournament bracket has also been released, and on Thursday, May 15, at Robin Roberts Stadium at Lanphier Park (1415 N. Grand Ave E, 62707) in Springfield, Illinois. The Hawks enter the postseason as the number 1 overall seed in the region, and will begin play on Friday at noon, taking on the winner of (4) Parkland and (5) Danville Area.
Former Heartland Hawks pitcher, Jimmy Suits, is fighting a condition called Transverse Myelitis (TM). Follow progress at Slide Jimmy Home.
*All Hawk baseball home games will be played on campus at The Corn Crib, unless otherwise stated on the schedule page. The stadium is east of Heartland's main campus, Corn Crib, 1000 West Raab Road, Normal, IL.
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