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Hawkins' attitude driving force for Broncos

SNELLVILLE - Many players could've been satisfied with the junior season Chase Hawkins had for the Brookwood baseball team a year ago.

But while winning six games on the mound and hitting .306 for a team that made the Class AAAAA state semifinals was nice, that wasn't good enough for him.

That was an attitude the 6-foot-1, 185-pound left-hander carried with him through the following summer into this spring.

It was an attitude that turned Hawkins from a talented player into a leader, and then into a major component that would help the Broncos take the next step from the previous year's success and become state champions.

And that attitude also helped him balance his role as the team's ace pitcher with a strong contribution at the plate to make the senior pitcher/first baseman the Daily Post's 2008 Player of the Year.

"How well he balanced the two (roles), that says a lot about his leadership," Brookwood coach Rick Howard said of Hawkins. "He just went out and played. That's maturity."

Hawkins' growing process stemmed from the weeks that followed Brookwood's semifinal run last season.

He joined some of the top underclassmen from around the state on Team Georgia, where he learned about the winning attitude.

He also learned something that turned out to be just as important - a changeup.

"I started messing with it," Hawkins said. "I went out there and just developed it over the summer, and I developed it at a good time. I really gained confidence on the mound."

The added pitch - and the added confidence - caught the eye of the coaching staff at Georgia, and he would sign a scholarship to play for the Bulldogs in the fall.

The pitches also had a dramatic effect on Hawkins' pitching as he became the ace of a solid Brookwood staff, going 14-1 with a save, a 0.83 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 93 innings.

But as dominant as he was on the mound from the beginning of the season, it looked like his biggest contribution early on would be with a bat in his hands as he was hitting over .500 even past the midpoint. And his offensive numbers still wound up being mighty impressive as Hawkins hit .430 with 3 home runs and 21 RBIs.

However, the depth and power of the Broncos' batting order allowed him to take a more complementary role there and become the team's pitching stopper as the state playoffs approached.

It's a role he happily accepted, though he didn't want to totally ignore his work at the plate.

"Before the postseason, Coach (Howard) wanted at least one (starting pitcher) to throw a shutout in each series. I felt like that was my role.

"But I was hitting a lot (last summer) to help out my team, too. I knew I'd be hitting when I'm pitching. So, why not be good at both?"

And Hawkins was good at both during the playoffs.

His accomplishments on the mound were probably the most visible.

He rebounded from his only loss of the season in the first round against Alpharetta with a win and a save the next round, then recorded complete-game wins over East Coweta, North Cobb and Walton in the final three series. The latter was an impressive 3-2 win in a pitcher's duel with Georgia Tech-bound Mark Pope.

He also had hits at several key times. Perhaps the biggest was his leadoff single off Pope in the bottom of the sixth of a scoreless game, which set the stage for Buddy Jones' two-run homer that gave Brookwood the lead.

"His success on the mound fed his offensive side," Howard said. "He felt more relaxed - like he was already doing his job."

Hawkins' job will be much more defined once he gets to Georgia. He'll be solely a pitcher and he is eagerly looking forward to the challenge of throwing against tough SEC hitters.

"I can't wait to get to Athens," Hawkins said. "I'm going to work my tail off and try to develop one more pitch."

SideBar: All County Baseball

Player of the Year: Chase Hawkins, Brookwood (14-1, 1 save, 0.83 ERA, 102 K, 93 IP; .430, 3 HR, 21 RBIs)

Pitcher of the Year: Grayson Garvin, Wesleyan (8-0, 0.97 ERA, 1 save, 95 K, 572/3 IP; .411, 9 HR, 34 RBIs)

Co-coaches of the Year: Rick Howard, Brookwood, Mike Shaheen, Wesleyan

First team

Position Players

C/DH Seth Adkins, Sr., Brookwood

.392, 8 HR, 30 RBIs

SS/CF Bobby Cole, Sr., Hebron

.528, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 20 SB

CF Zach Cone, Sr., Parkview

.424, 6 HR, 25 RBIs

SS Jordan Erisman, Sr., Brookwood

.410, 14 HR, 43 RBIs, 43 R

RF Kevin Ruiz, Sr., Wesleyan

.450, 13 HR, 41 RBIs

2B Ross Heffley, Sr., Brookwood

.403, 9 HR, 40 RBIs, 9 SB, 35 R

LF Brandon Jacobs, Jr., Parkview

.500, 6 HR, 37 RBIs

CF Johnny Knight, Jr., Mill Creek

.353, 11 HR, 38 RBIs

CF Jim Moreland, Sr., North Gwinnett

.449, 3 HR, 17 RBIs

3B Chris Wages, Jr., Providence

.459, 11 HR, 54 RBIs

SS Jon Walker, Sr., Providence

.441, 6 HR, 24 RBIs

SS Connor Winn, Sr., Wesleyan

.495, 15 HR, 33 RBIs

Pitchers

LHP Matt Adams, Jr., Brookwood

7-0, 1.31, 58 K, 43 IP

RHP Alex Beebe, Sr., Brookwood

10-1, 1.94, 56 K, 69 IP

LHP Sean Handlan, Jr., South Gwinnett

5-3, 0.95, 79 K, 661/3 IP

LHP Devin Stanton, So., Wesleyan 8-0,

2.10, 81 K, 531/3 IP

RHP Andrew Steckenrider, Jr., GAC

7-0, 1.17, 46 K, 36 IP; .387, 7 HR, 23 RBIs

Second Team

Position Players

3B Matt Foster, Jr., Parkview

1B/C Ronnie Freeman, Jr., Brookwood

C Jacob German, Jr., Mill Creek

DH Nick Jones, So., North Gwinnett

CF Luke Jordan, Sr., Duluth

DH/OF Peter Poole, Jr., Norcross

3B James Ramsey, Sr., Wesleyan

1B Patrick Savage, Jr., GAC

3B Ronnie Stewart, Sr., North Gwinnett

DH/OF Addison Thomas, Jr., Providence

CF Lance Whatley, Sr., South Gwinnett

1B Tommy Yeo, Sr., Collins Hill

Pitchers

RHP Michael Brown, Jr., Brookwood

RHP Brandon Bast, Sr., Mill Creek

LHP Brian Holmes, Jr., Mill Creek

LHP Forrest Garrett, Sr., Norcross

RHP Taylor Rakes, Sr., Norcross