Noteworthy entrance: Nighthawks’ walk-up music tastes run the gamut

  • Upper Valley's Ronald Evans is called safe stealing second base after Sanford's Martin Higgins bobbled the tag in the fourth inning of their game in White River Junction, Vt., on July 5, 2021. The Mainers won the first game of the doubleheader, 3-2. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Geoff Hansen

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/30/2021 9:50:08 PM
Modified: 7/30/2021 9:50:12 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — When Upper Valley Nighthawks infielder Ronald Evans (UNC Wilmington) steps into the batter’s box during a home game at Maxfield Sports Complex, mixed reactions emerge among spectators, teammates and opponents.

And it has nothing to do with his hitting prowess.

It’s about his walkup song, Soulja Boy’s 2010 top-40 charter Pretty Boy Swag. Some around the ballpark smile and chuckle. Some look perplexed. Some dance along. Some even laugh at Evans about it.

He doesn’t care about the reactions. It’s all about his mindset.

“I think mentally, that’s what you should be most worried about,” Evans said. “If the crowd goes with it, then it’s great. It’s a plus. But the preference should be how it gets you mentally locked in.”

The first few times the song played for Evans, his teammates hollered along and danced. Evans enjoyed it.

But not everyone in the Nighthawks’ dugout was in love with the brash tune. Evans knows he has to back it up to use a song that proclaims: “Everybody pay attention, this right here is my pretty boy swag.”

Nighthawks shortstop Luca Trigiani said such a song requires an unattainably high level of play.

“I just think if you’re playing that, you gotta be like the second coming of Christ,” Trigiani said. “You gotta be going 4-for-4 every game, making diving plays, I don’t know. You gotta be the man.”

The Nighthawks’ song choices cover a wide range of eras and genres.

Outfielder Brett Callahan (St. Joseph’s) covers classic rock with Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. Pitcher Zane Kmietek (Marist) prefers country, with Beer Never Broke My Heart by Luke Combs. Pitcher Tyler Spitzbarth (Valdosta State) goes with hip-hop/rap, entering to J. Cole’s Rise and Shine.

Everyone has different reasons — or lack thereof — for picking songs. Evans chose his while listening to a throwbacks playlist with his brother in the car. Outfielder Andrew Walker (Xavier), who walks up to Castaway by Zac Brown Band, just likes the song and its summertime vibe.

But it goes deeper for others. Hartford High alum Jordy Allard (Richmond) has a six-song playlist, tabbing tunes to play while he warms up for each inning he may pitch. Most of his songs are just songs he likes and thinks the crowd will get into. But the first song, the one he begins every start by playing, is a tribute.

“My first one is Speedway at Nazareth by Mark Knopfler. That one was actually my walkout at Babson,” Allard said. “That’s my grandfather’s favorite song; (he) passed away last year, so that’s kind of just for him. Kind of puts me in the zone. That one’s huge for me. Hits me in the heart every time.”

Trigiani goes with the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys anthem Empire State of Mind, a nod to his Brooklyn roots. He started the season using Frank Sinatra’s version of Theme from New York, New York but changed it when he hit a midseason slump.

Many Nighthawks’ players have changed tunes throughout the season. Pitcher Cade Lommel (Creighton) has used four different songs during his home starts. Trigiani doesn’t think he’s particularly superstitious, but he decided he wanted a different song and figured the slump gave him an easy opportunity to do so.

With so many options, selecting a song (or even a group of songs) can be challenging enough. But settling on a particular song isn’t the only thing the players consider. After all, nobody gets a three-minute introduction jam. Players have to choose what snippet of their chosen song they want to play.

Many will just play the song right from the beginning. But others put thought into that choice.

“I feel like that’s the hardest part,” Evans said. “Because you can love a song, but you gotta figure out which part you want to walk out to. And there’s such good parts in every song. So it’s really hard.”

Trigiani, Walker, and Evans said catcher Kevin Pitarra (UNC Wilmington) has one of the best walkup songs on the team, with Bigger Than Me by Big Sean. Trigiani and Walker also agreed with Allard in supporting Parker Haskin’s selections by mike.

Everyone’s music taste is different, and everyone has their own opinions on what makes a good walkup song. Evans focuses on getting himself locked in for an at-bat. Allard opts for songs that fit the appropriate mood and songs that the crowd will get into.

Trigiani falls in the middle.

“I’ll get too locked in and too serious to the point where it’s usually detrimental,” he said. “So for me, I gotta kind of keep it loose. I like songs that are more laid back and don’t really fire you up too much. For me, it’s almost like something that calms me down but gets the crowd going.”

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




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