Hamilton baseball hungry for redemption - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Hamilton baseball hungry for redemption

March 30th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Hamilton baseball hungry for redemption
Sports and Recreation

By Zach Alvira
Sports Editor

The last time Hamilton right-handed pitcher Logan Saloman took the mound in a state title game, he was a wide-eyed freshman that had earned the trust of his coaches and teammates.

Saloman threw a complete game back in 2019 as the Huskies went on to beat Corona Del Sol 8-1 at Tempe Diablo Stadium. That is arguably one of Saloman’s best memories from his time at Hamilton.

Now a senior, he hopes to have that same feeling this season with a star-studded lineup alongside him with the Huskies. But what makes this team perhaps more dangerous than in year’s past is the redemption they all seek after falling in the semifinals last season.

“We want it bad,” Saloman said. “That loss last year hurt a lot. We want it even more now.”

Hamilton was the favorite to repeat in 2020 following its latest state championship in baseball. But the season was cut short due to the beginning of the pandemic.

At the time, Hamilton had just wrapped up the Boras Classic and was the top-ranked team in the nation in MaxPreps’ baseball rankings. When spring sports were given the go-ahead in 2021, Hamilton again emerged as a favorite. But the Huskies ran into a talented Alhambra team led by a stellar pitching staff in the semifinals.

Liberty, another powerhouse baseball program, went on to win last year’s state title.

That feeling after the semifinal loss hasn’t subsided for Hamilton’s players. Roch Cholowsky, a junior infielder that committed to UCLA before his sophomore year, knows that pain all too well. Also a member of the Hamilton football team, he was the backup quarterback when the Huskies fell in the final on a missed field goal to rival Chandler two years ago and when they were upset by Saguaro last season.

“(Winning the title) is all we are working for, honestly,” said Cholowsky, who figures to be the starting quarterback in the fall. “We are going to do everything we can to get there. We had the talent last year, we had the coaching. We just saw a good pitcher who had a good day.”

Hamilton’s redemption tour has so far started out strong.

The Huskies began the season on a six-game win streak before entering the Boras Classic against Legend High School from Parker, Colorado. The four-day tournament brings together some of the best baseball programs in Arizona along with a few from out of state.

Hamilton is the headline program playing in the Classic as the sixth-ranked team in the country. Bishop Gorman from Las Vegas, the No. 7 team, is also participating.

Boras is one of two major tournaments the Huskies will partake in during the 2022 season. In April they will travel across the country to North Carolina to face off against some of the nation’s best at the USA Baseball National High School Invitational. Head coach Mike Woods said it’s a unique opportunity for his team to compete against some of the best.

“It’s an opportunity to show what we can do,” Woods said. “We try not to get too far in front of us. On paper, this may be one of our best teams. But you don’t win games on paper. I’m excited because of the potential these guys have.”

Woods doesn’t read too much into his team’s national ranking. For the most part, it’s expected.

The team’s motto is “Compete.” It’s plastered along the walls of the Hamilton baseball field and on team-issued shirts. Being the best isn’t a trait that comes and goes with Hamilton, it’s the standard. The high level of coaching players receive and the ability to play alongside other top players is what draws in talent.

And this year, Hamilton has plenty of it.

The Huskies have nine Division I recruits on the roster this season. Saloman signed with Arizona State before his senior season. Junior utility player Josh Tiedmann and junior pitcher and outfielder Zach Wadas are committed to play for TCU. Senior pitcher Kole Klecker signed with the Bullfrogs before his senior season began.

Junior infielder Ryan Kucherak is currently committed to Baylor, while fellow junior infielder Will Shelor is committed to Arizona. AJ Diaz, a sophomore infielder, has already made his commitment to the Wildcats in Tucson. Senior outfielder Tanner Holland is currently signed with Central Arizona College, one of the top junior college programs in the country.

The talent is spread out across the field and especially at the plate. That’s part of what makes this team so dangerous this season. Not to mention the camaraderie.

“Our chemistry on the field translates to off the field,” senior outfielder and Oregon State signee Gavin Turley said. “We’ve all become really good friends and we are always picking each other up and we’re all hungry. We got so close last year and didn’t go all the way so this year, we’re going after it.”

Cholowsky and Saloman share the same mindset as Turley. The team is a close-knit group that knows how to have fun while being the best. That was made clear in the home dugout after a win over Chandler when they began dancing to part music.

But most importantly, this team has one goal in mind.

“We need one before the seniors leave,” Cholowsky said. “We need to get a ring.”