Heartland Community College baseball team celebrates, reflects on championship season
Heartland Community College baseball players, staff, students and fans gathered at the HCC Fitness and Recreation Center on Monday to celebrate their championship victory.
The Hawks defeated Southeastern Iowa 8-6 Saturday in Oklahoma to capture the first NJCAA Division II national title in school history.
Chris Razo is the team’s head coach. He helped lead the Hawks to a 57-5 record that included an undefeated postseason run, culminating in the national championship win.
Thinking about the past season, he said the experience doesn’t yet feel entirely real.
“Right now, it still is very surreal,” said Razo, adding it may take some time for the feeling of being a champion to settle in.
“I think once we look back in a couple days or weeks, we’re gonna say it was kind of a magical run and it’s just something we’re going to really appreciate once we kind of get a little farther away from it,” said Razo.
Heartland starting catcher, Ben Hartl also described the championship season as surreal.
“Honestly it’s still surreal, but it’s an accomplishing feeling,” said Hartl. “But I just had fun while doing it, that’s the moral of the story.”
Hartl, who will enter his junior year this fall, is taking his talent to the University of Kansas next season. Born in Springfield, he said he’s excited to venture out into a new place and continue his baseball career.
Hartl said the most fulfilling part of the Hawks’ championship run wasn’t hoisting the trophy, but the process along the way.
“I think that’s the most fulfilling part, is seeing the building blocks build out of getting each win, and each practice, getting stronger, getting better as a team,” he said.
For players like Hartl who are leaving Heartland, Razo has a message: remember what you learned.
“I don’t want them to ever forget what they learned here,” said Razo. “I think it’s a family-first thing we kind of preach here, and it’s tough to emulate that anywhere you go after this place. So, I just want them to make sure they understand all the lessons they learned here … we know they’re going to represent us well at the next spot.”