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Highlights of 2021 season included 12 fireworks shows, home-run power of first baseman
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Highlights of 2021 season included 12 fireworks shows, home-run power of first baseman

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This weekend officially put the 29th season of Crawdads baseball in the books as the ‘Dads finished on the road in Rome, Ga. The team didn’t finish with a winning record, but it was a season we won’t forget as we were able to open the gates to welcome back the faithful members of Crustacean Nation for the first time in 609 days.

The Crawdads were led on offense by slugging first baseman Blaine Crim. Crim was the team leader in home runs (20) and RBIs (61) while hitting an even .300 before an early August promotion to Double-A Frisco. Jonathan Ornelas finished the season as the team’s hit leaders, recording 98.

Perhaps the most memorable feat of the season was Justin Foscue’s red-hot return from the injured list, when he homered in eight consecutive games. During that stretch, Foscue hit .472 with eight home runs and 17 RBIs.

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On the mound for the ‘Dads, Avery Weems was the team’s workhorse, tossing the most innings with 85.1 while also striking out the most batters (124). Weems and Justin Slaten both started 19 games, tied for the team lead. Zak Kent’s six wins led the way for the Crawdads. Kent only appeared in 14 games, starting nine of them. After posting a 2.83 ERA and striking out 78 batters to 15 walks in 60.1 innings, he made the jump to Frisco. The coaching staff wasn’t afraid to mix up things up in the late innings as nine different pitchers recorded a save. Jean Casanova had the most on staff with five saves.

The ‘Dads were successful in providing a place for players to continue to develop their skills to be ready for the next level. In fact, 15 members of the team were promoted to Frisco this season. The team even saw Nick Snyder start the season with the club and make 10 appearances before working his way through the system, ultimately making his Major League debut on August 21. Only 11 players (six pitchers and five position players) were with the team throughout the year, minor stints on the injured reserve not counting as time away from the team.

For fans of position players who pitch, the Crawdads offered plenty of opportunities to catch 60 mph fastballs from our sluggers. Infielder Trey Hair was the go-to arm for manager Joshua Johnson, getting the ball on four occasions. While Hair didn’t allow an earned run in two of the appearances, he allowed nine cumulative runs in his first two outings. He did, however, record a strikeout. Outfielder Ryan Anderson and catcher Isaias Quiroz each delivered a scoreless inning in their games, while catcher Scott Kapers allowed a run in his inning of work.

On the non-baseball side of things, the Frans hosted 12 fireworks shows in 2021 and fans packed the park from Opening Night in May until the very last weekend. On the final Friday of the year, 4,283 people were in attendance as the ‘Dads partnered with local PTOs to raise a record amount of money for our school systems.

As a staff, we would like to say thank you to the community for supporting the organization throughout 2020 and for coming back as passionate as ever as we were finally able to return to playing professional baseball here in Hickory. We truly couldn’t have made it through these last two years without you. We’ll be spending the next few months planning and innovating as we get ready to celebrate our 30th anniversary in 2022. We can’t wait to share it with you!

Ashley Salinas is director of marketing, communications and merchandise for the Hickory Crawdads.

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