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Jimmy Hawksworth, Lincoln-Way Central down East

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Jimmy Hawksworth spent the majority of his senior season on the bench for Lincoln-Way Central, waiting for his opportunity.

An infielder/pitcher and Wabash recruit, Hawksworth had just eight at-bats over the first two months this spring. But he remained ready.

“I was just staying calm and doing what I know I can do when I got an opportunity,” Hawksworth said. “It’s the practices, really.

“Taking advantage of getting out here on these beautiful days and getting swings in at practice, staying positive.”

Hawksworth, who has finally gotten his chance over the last two weeks, came through with the game of his life Saturday.

He went 3-for-3 with a triple, double, single and two RBIs to lead the host Knights to a 7-1 victory over Lincoln-Way East in the Class 4A Lincoln-Way Central Regional championship game.

Xavier recruit Landon Mensik produced a two-run single for the fourth-seeded Knights (24-6), who have won their last 13 games. Braden Meyer and Filippo Baratta both went 2-for-3 with a run and Louisville recruit Collin Mowry scored twice.

Luke Mensik, Landon’s brother and a fellow Xavier recruit, struck out four and allowed one earned run over six innings to earn the victory on the mound.

Lincoln-Way Central's Luke Mensik (18) throws a pitch during the Class 4A Lincoln-Way Central Regional final against Lincoln-Way East in New Lenox on Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Troy Stolt/for the Daily Southtown)
Lincoln-Way Central’s Luke Mensik (18) throws a pitch against Lincoln-Way East during the Class 4A Lincoln-Way Central Regional championship game in New Lenox on Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Troy Stolt / Daily Southtown)

It’s the first regional championship since 2017 for the Knights, who will play at 2 p.m. Wednesday in a Providence Sectional semifinal against Lincoln-Way West (29-4). Lincoln-Way Central ended up 2-0 against the Warriors in the regular season.

Illinois Wesleyan recruit Matt Hudik and Jacob Newman each went 2-for-3 for the fifth-seeded Griffins (22-14).

Hawksworth got the Knights going early, ripping a two-run triple into the right-center gap for the big hit in a four-run first inning.

“It feels great,” Hawksworth said. “I just took the opportunity and took advantage of it. I did everything I could.

“I wasn’t getting a lot of opportunities earlier in the season, but I told myself the very few I was getting, I’d take advantage of them. That’s what I did (Saturday).”

Lincoln-Way Central's Braden Meyer (4) throws to third during the Class 4A Lincoln-Way Central Regional final against Lincoln-Way East in New Lenox on Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Troy Stolt/for the Daily Southtown)
Lincoln-Way Central’s Braden Meyer (4) throws to third base against Lincoln-Way East during the Class 4A Lincoln-Way Central Regional championship game in New Lenox on Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Troy Stolt / Daily Southtown)

Meyer was thrilled for his fellow classmate.

“He came up clutch a couple times,” Meyer said of Hawksworth. “He’s been playing great defense and getting some really big hits for us.”

In addition to baseball, Hawksworth grew up competing in gymnastics. He followed in the footsteps of his older sister, Abby, who was a gymnast and diver at Lincoln-Way Central and is now on the rowing team at Indiana.

“I was a gymnast for 13 or 14 years, but baseball was my true passion,” Hawksworth said. “I had a foot injury in gymnastics that caused me to miss most of my freshman baseball season, and that’s when I decided to give up gymnastics and focus on baseball.

“I definitely have the speed and agility. Gymnastics really helped with that.”

Lincoln-Way Central's Jimmy Hawksworth (5) hits a two RBI triple during the first inning of the Class 4A Lincoln-Way Central Regional final against Lincoln-Way East in New Lenox on Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Troy Stolt/for the Daily Southtown)
Lincoln-Way Central’s Jimmy Hawksworth (5) connects for a two-run triple against Lincoln-Way East during the Class 4A Lincoln-Way Central Regional championship game in New Lenox on Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Troy Stolt / Daily Southtown)

The Knights have not lost since a 17-6 defeat to Andrew on April 22.

“After we lost pretty badly to Andrew, we all sat down together and had a talk,” Luke Mensik said. “It wasn’t about the baseball side of things because we have a lot of talent. But we talked about mentality. We weren’t a team. We weren’t connected.

“Ever since then, we really came together. We’re all best friends and everything has gone perfectly. Now, we just think nobody can be on the field with us.”

After allowing a run in the first inning, Luke Mensik shut down the Griffins.

His offense gave him plenty of support, led by an unexpected hero in Hawksworth.

“He stepped up in a defensive role midseason and he kept working, grinded his way to a couple hits, and then he had a huge day for us (Saturday),” Lincoln-Way Central coach Mitch Nowicki said of Hawksworth. “It’s cool to see a kid work that hard and get rewarded for it.

“He’s been a great teammate all season.”



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