SYSK: Waukon Indians baseball team doesn't quit - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SYSK: Waukon Indians baseball team doesn't quit

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OELWEIN (KWWL) -

It's Wednesday, July 20th. The Waukon Indians baseball team is warming up for its sub-state game against Oelwein. Only one team makes it to the state tournament.

Waukon only won six games each of the previous two seasons. This year, 13 wins before this game.

Coach Matt Breitbach knows his team is the underdog. Still, he said his team is focused and ready. But one player is missing from Waukon's on-field team, senior Mark Hawes.

Hawes played shortstop. He was injured in practice May 20th.

"It was a pickle situation where he was caught in a rundown. We had a freshman catcher in there actually, and he took a couple steps, Mark took a lunge, he froze, yelled my name, I ran over there and said he couldn't feel his legs. We kept him stationary, wouldn't let him move, called the ambulance right away got him to the hospital," said Coach Matt Breitbach.

The injury was difficult for the team.

"It's just one of those things you wonder why it happened to the person it does. The guys rallied around him. He's still number 11 on the roster and he'll stay that way," said Coach Breitbach.

Hawes has made great progress, getting out of the hospital earlier than expected.

"I got out July first. They originally thought I'd have to stay until August 4th, but then I kept pushing and pushing and finally they let me out," said Mark Hawes.

Despite not being on the field, Hawes makes it to as many games as possible.

"It means a lot, especially since it's been so hot and he's roasting in the dugout, but he's positive and we love having him here," said senior Mitch Berns.

For the sub-state game in Oelwein, Hawes was right next to the dugout.

"I think Mark embodies what our team does. A team that doesn't quit, plays hard all the time. Unfortunately, he got hurt, but it was a play where he wasn't going to give up. He was giving 100 percent," said Coach Breitbach.

It was a defensive game until the end. Oelwein scored first in the top of the sixth but then Waukon scored, too.

It all came down to the last inning. Oelwein got close, but the runner was called out at the plate. Then in the bottom of the seventh, Waukon's Blaine Snitker hit a double.

He takes third on a wild pitch and Oelwein makes a pitching change.

With the runner at third, catcher Mitch Berns came through, getting a hit, bringing home the winning run. Waukon won 2 to 1 making it to the state baseball tournament.

"I'm pretty excited, yeah. Because we haven't even gotten a district medal in years, so this is huge," said Mark Hawes.

Also making it to the tournament, intra-county rival Kee High School of Lansing. At Waukon's senior night earlier in July, Kee High Coach Gene Schultz and players decided to give the Ron Feuerhelm Award and scholarship money to Mark Hawes. It's typically given each year to a Kee High senior player.

"It was one of the classiest things I've ever seen. I know Coach Schultz is very appreciative of what Mark does for baseball. He loves the game," said Coach Breitbach.

Right now, doctors told Mark there's a three percent chance he'll walk again, but...

"He's a tough kid. If anybody's gonna get through this, it's gonna be Mark Hawes," said Coach Breitbach.

Waukon lost in the first round of the state tournament to Solon. This summer, Mark Hawes is continuing with his physical therapy three times a week in Rochester.

In the fall, he plans to attend Iowa State University to study agricultural engineering. You can help out the Hawes family on Sunday, August 7th in Waukon. There's a benefit for Mark at the Allamakee County Fairgrounds Pavilion. It begins at 11 a.m. and includes a meal, auction and raffle. Monetary contributions can also be sent to Farmers and Merchants Savings Bank in Waukon.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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