In 2012, Salado’s head coach Chad Krempin watched then-sophomore Britton Hawes pitch for the first time.
“I was very curious at first,” Krempin said. “It takes awhile to make a good impression on me.”
Hawes, a 5-foot-8, 155-pounder, was throwing sidearm.
“I was wondering if he could consistently throw strikes with that approach,” Krempin said. “I was very skeptical.”
That skepticism quickly disappeared.
Before the 2012 season was two weeks old, Krempin brought Hawes up from JV.
The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Hawes was a first-team all-district pitcher in 2012. He repeated that feat in 2013.
This season, Hawes hurled 95 innings, struck out 85 batters, yielded just 21 walks and had a win-loss record of 10-2.
Most impressive, his ERA was an almost unfathomable 0.47.
Of course Hawes made first-team all-district again.
During this three-year ride, Hawes caught the eye of Texas Lutheran University in Seguin.
“Their whole attitude about me was always positive,” Hawes said. “Coach (Greg) Burnett is very personable. It was one of the few schools I was really interested in.”
Thus Hawes committed to play for TLU.
“I think Britton will do a real good job there,” Krempin said. “His pitching delivery is unique. He’ll be offering them something different. I’m really looking forward to following his college career.”
Earlier this year, Hawes’ catcher at Salado, Cole Haag, committed to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
“I think Britton will do great at Texas Lutheran,” Haag said. “He’s certainly been great for us these past three years. I think his sidearm delivery will remain effective because you just don’t see it all that often at any level.”
Hawes began tossing sidearm on a summer club team in 2011.
“I was having a difficult time throwing over the top,” Hawes said. “My club coaches told me I didn’t have the speed to go over the top. So I went sidearm and it all worked out well.”
Haag said the sidearm delivery took a little getting used to.
“It has its own challenges as a catcher,” Haag said. “But at the same time, I knew it was harder on the hitter so I was always fine with making the necessary adjustments.
“Britton was so successful with it because he’d just come in there and throw strikes. He constantly kept hitters off-balance. You couldn’t hit him hard.”
Hawes’ fastball comes in around 76 mph. He throws his curve around 65 and knuckler at 55.
“My mental approach on the mound is to simply attack the batters with strikes,” Hawes said. “I just like to let my defense work and help me get people out.”
One of the great strengths of Hawes is his own defensive prowess.
“You can’t bunt on Britton,” said Krempin, who has been a high school head coach for 12 years, the past three at Salado. “A lot of people don’t pay enough attention to how critical it is for a pitcher to be tough on defense. But it’s huge. And I’ve seen Britton take away more hits from batters than any other pitcher I have ever coached.”
Over the past three seasons, Hawes also was a strong defender at shortstop and second base. A skilled bunter, smart hitter and fast runner, Hawes was a consistent offensive threat, too.
“But my first concentration at college will be as a pitcher,” Hawes said. “As time goes on, I’d like to also play second base. But, right now, I’ll make sure my main focus is on learning how to get collegiate hitters out.”
And one of those hitters he might be facing is Haag. TLU is scheduled to play UMHB in 2015.
“What’s really interesting is that Cole and I have often talked about what would happen if we ever faced each other,” Hawes said. “Cole knows how my pitches work. It’d be one pretty interesting matchup, that’s for sure. He might tag one on me one time and I might get him the next time.”
Haag said, “I’d like to think I’d hit a home run off Britton — that would be any hitter’s first reaction. But the reality of such a matchup is that we know each other so well.
“Britton is such a great competitor. So I guarantee this: Britton will be coming at me with everything he has.”