Michael Smith / firstname.lastname@example.org, Published July 28 2011
Hawley relishes first Legion state baseball berth since 1928FARGO – The last time Hawley Post 382 made it to the American Legion baseball state tournament, Babe Ruth was in the process of leading the New York Yankees to only their third World Series title.
Playing its first state tournament game since 1928, Hawley is slated to face Luverne in the first round of the Minnesota Division II tournament, which starts today in Ely.
“It feels great. It is a tremendous feeling to know that we have made it this far. This season will remain near and dear to my heart forever,” said Hawley coach Beau Lofgren. “There is the feeling of jubilation with some relief.”
Hawley has made it to the district championship game three times in the last five years, just to be turned away without a berth to the state tournament.
“We have been knocking on the door the last seven or eight years,” Lofgren said. “We feel very humbled and happy that we are here. This trip is for some of those kids that didn’t make it to state. They really elevated the program to where it is now.”
It hasn’t been smooth sailing the entire postseason for Hawley, as Post 382 dropped the first game of the double-elimination sub-district tournament 7-4 to Frazee in eight innings.
“We were feeling pretty low at that point,” Lofgren said. “We knew we were down but not out. That first loss kind of woke us up.”
Post 382 is heading to the state tournament with a six-game winning streak. Hawley won the final two games of the sub-district tournament and all four of their games in the district.
A key component to Hawley’s success this season had been the play of second baseman Jacob Bjornson.
“He is the spark plug for our team,” Lofgren said. “He is our leadoff hitter and he leads by example and is the first guy to get his uniform dirty. He lives for this and thrives when the pressure is on.”
Bjornson is hitting .520 after making the switch from shortstop to second base this season.
“It has been a fluid transition,” Bjornson said. “It is a little different, but it is still infield so it’s the same concept.”
Lofgren says that Bjornson’s batting average is the highest he has seen in his nine years at the helm of the program.
“I just started to concentrate on the ball more and looking for the fastball as much as I could without swinging at junk,” Bjornson said.
There have been more talented teams than this one from Hawley that didn’t make it to the state tournament, Lofgren said.
He credits the team chemistry for the success.
“I think, with this team, we have a potpourri of players,” Lofgren said. “We have a unique bunch of guys with different personalities that come together on the field. The guys, at the end of the day, are going to be happy if we leave everything on the field and play hard. We believe we have the hitting and pitching to get it done if we play our cards right.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Michael Smith at (701) 241-5549