Springfield grad Hanna enjoys final run at Malone

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent
Andrew Hanna

CANTON – This season has been anything but normal for Andrew Hanna and his teammates.

The Malone redshirt senior second baseman has had the same experience as college athletes across America, playing in the midst of a pandemic and its myriad effects on sports and society. To post a .500 record, reach the conference tournament and score some impressive wins along the way are noteworthy feats and Hanna appreciates what the campaign has brought.

“It was a grind this season … we really fought hard to get into the conference tournament, so it rewarding to be down here (in Cincinnati) competing,” Hanna said. “It’s just brought me closer with my teammates … we’ve faced a lot of adversity this season, be we stuck together, persevered and did the best we could.”

Malone posted a 20-20 record and 14-18 league mark in Great Midwest Athletic Conference play. A four-game winning streak late in the year was part of a stretch in which the Pioneers won eight of nine games and helped solidify their place in the GMAC tournament.

That stretch also saw them score a resounding 11-5 win over Division I foe and Northeast Ohio neighbor Akron, with the mid-week win over the Zips seeing Hanna record two hits, score two runs and drive in two more runs.

“It was pretty awesome knowing they’re just up I-77 from us,” Hanna said of the win. “Everything for their baseball program is brand new and play on a field that’s on campus, and play on their all-artificial turf field, the getting a win against those guys was a pretty awesome experience.”

The win, along with Malone’s other 19 victories, came in a season that was shortened by 10 games due to COVID-19. That change eliminated most midweek games and concentrated the bulk of the schedule on league games, with only eight non-league contests.

As a senior, Hanna has found himself in a spot where he can share the lessons he’s accumulated throughout his career and pass them along to his younger teammates. It is, as he sees it, a chance to help them get up to speed faster than he did when he was an underclassman.

“I just try to set an example and I try not to hold my breath if I see young guy doing something I did and wish hadn’t done and that someone would have said something to me about, I talk to them,” Hanna said. “I want to shorten that learning curve for them.”

As for his own learning, Hanna completed his final semester of undergraduate study this spring. While he wasn’t able to attend the graduation ceremony because of a game against arch rival Walsh that day, he’s happy to have earned his bachelor’s degree in business and sports management. He has one year of eligibility left and plans to begin grad school and play again next spring.

In between now and then, expect him to keep tabs on former Springfield teammate Collin Floyd, who has enjoyed a record-setting senior season for Youngstown State and is hoping to be selected in this summer’s Major League Baseball draft.

“It’s cool, I keep tabs on Collin and watch some of his starts,” Hanna said. “Seeing that he broke the career strikeout record, it was really cool to be able to send him a text and say congratulations.”

It’s the sort of connection sports can create and one Hanna has enjoyed developing this season and throughout his career with his teammates. In a season that was far from normal, it’s a reminder that some good things persist.