Thank you for your interest in and support of the Valley News.

An anonymous donor has agreed to MATCH every dollar donated up to $28,500 in our hosting of journalists Frances Mize and Alex Driehaus for their one-year placements with the Valley News through Report for America, a national service program that boosts local news by harnessing community support. Donate today and DOUBLE the impact of your support.

Nighthawks return to NECBL nest after pandemic hiatus

  • Nighthawks President Noah Crane speaks with the team about logistics as their practice in White River Junction, Vt., winds down on June 3, 2021. The team opens their season in Keene on June 4. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — Geoff Hansen

  • First baseman William Sullivan, of Troy University, takes batting practice during the Nighthawks' practice in White River Junction, Vt., on June 3, 2021. The team opens their season in Keene on June 4. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Nighthawks head coach Justin Devoid hits ground balls to the infielders as pitcher Tyler Spitzbarth, of Valdosta State University, returns them during the team's practice in White River Junction, Vt., on June 3, 2021. The team opens their season in Keene on June 4. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

  • Pitcher Josh Flack, of Kansas State University, works out with the Nighthawks during their practice in White River Junction, Vt., on June 3, 2021. The team opens their season in Keene on June 4. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/3/2021 9:44:01 PM
Modified: 6/3/2021 9:43:58 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — For the first time since August 2019, Upper Valley Nighthawks baseball is back.

The Nighthawks open its New England Collegiate Baseball League season Friday on the road against the defending champion Keene Swamp Bats.

Their home opener at Maxfield Sports Complex is Saturday against the Winnipesaukee Muskrats.

The Nighthawks started late — because of players finishing up their college baseball seasons and some traveling from long distances, the Hawks only held their first practice on Wednesday.

They’ll be shorthanded to start the season, as some players’ collegiate campaigns are still ongoing.

But despite that and any abnormality created by COVID-19, Nighthawks founder and president Noah Crane is just glad to have summer baseball return in the Upper Valley.

“Whatever happens — I don’t think we will — but if we go 0-42, the fact that we’re out here playing and that there’s Nighthawks baseball and that our fans are coming to the park, that’s a win for us,” Crane said. “I do think we’re going to win. I do think we’re going to compete for a championship. But if we don’t, I know our fans are going to have a good time. And we’re just happy to be playing.”

The team made a late managerial change, hiring Hartford High alum and former Nighthawks player Justin Devoid after another ex-Nighthawk, Bryant Bowen, stepped down from the job due to the NECBL’s rule that all players and coaches must be vaccinated.

Devoid worked as an assistant coach at St. Lawrence University in New York last year. Though he’s only had a couple of practices with the Nighthawks before they begin playing games, Crane said there’s already camaraderie developing between the players and the coaching staff.

“It’s a great opportunity;, I’m very thankful for Noah for giving me the call and asking me to head this team,” Devoid said. “I’ve been very excited. I think that energy and exuberance will help drive the team, and hopefully we can keep that positive energy throughout the season.”

The pandemic forced Crane to scramble to find beds for the full roster. He said they were nine beds short two weeks ago, but they found enough host families to not need a backup plan.

Crane feels that roster, once everyone arrives, is the best the Nighthawks have ever fielded.

He sees depth, balance and skill across the diamond.

Pitcher Jordy Allard, a Hartford High alum, returns for his third season with the Nighthawks.

Allard was recently named D3baseball.com’s All-New England pitcher of the year for his success (a 0.91 ERA, 55 strikeouts and just two walks in seven starts) at Babson College.

He became Babson’s first player in program history to be named All-America by both D3baseball and the American Basceball Coaches Association on Wednesday.

Allard will play for the University of Richmond as a graduate transfer next season.

Allard enjoyed his first two Nighthawks seasons but said this year is special after missing last summer.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Allard said. “Last year, it was tough not to play baseball in the summer. I was here all the time throwing my bullpens, so I’ve been here for a while. It’s really awesome just to be back in the Upper Valley, back in the hometown. It’s going to be a great year, and I’m really excited for this.”

Wright State rising senior infielder Gehrig Anglin is also returning for his second season with the Nighthawks.

Crane and Devoid are high on Creighton rising sophomore outfielder Alan Roden, who earned Big East freshman of the year honors this year.

Roden batted .378 for the Bluejays and posted a .421 average in league play.

He led the Big East with nine doubles, 26 RBIs and 56 total bases.

He was also a unanimous first-team all-conference selection.

They added that Northeastern University rising sophomore Max Viera is another hitter to watch. Viera was named to the All-CAA first team and all-rookie team after batting .341 with a .958 OPS.

On the mound, the Nighthawks are excited about Wichita State rising sophomore right-hander Jace Kaminska, this year’s AAC newcomer pitcher of the year. Kaminska posted a 2.32 ERA in 12 appearances (10 starts) with 51 strikeouts.

“The lineup is incredibly deep. And then we’ve got pitchers who compete and throw strikes,” Crane said. It’s really a successful formula in summer baseball.”

Seth Tow can be contacted at stow@vnews.com.


Sign up for our free email updates
Valley News Daily Headlines
Valley News Contests and Promotions
Valley News Extra Time
Valley News Breaking News


Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-8711

 

© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy