Reasons to be cheerful

Reasons to be cheerful

With 4 losses in 4 games for the men’s team, it is easy to feel anxious about Hamina’s chances in the coming regular season, but this is only part of the story. In fact, there are a great number of reasons to feel positive about the season ahead. Talvisuper has been a great success as a format for winter pesis, even if the results haven’t gone Hamina’s way. When it comes to games that really matter, the only ones that will be remembered will be the results that determine HPs fate at the end of the season.

 

Hamina is the latest team to have two teams in Superpesis - one in the men’s and one in the women’s. The task of juggling two teams at a high level can be tricky, but HP are building a lasting franchise and looking to keep both teams in the top division for years to come. Hamina has a great history and passion for pesis and the teams have a solid foundation for the coming season. With the men’s team, their promotion at the end of 2023 capped off a stunning year and saw the club reap the reward of years of careful planning and management. In 2020 Hamina men’s team earned promotion, only for their season to end in relegation. This time, the club is hopeful that they can avoid relegation and build on the success from 2023 of both men’s and women’s teams.

 

The Talvisuper games have given fans the first chance to see the new lineup in action, with star signings Lauri Rönkkö and Juho Hacklin and the long awaited return of Henri Heikillä. With 0 wins in the opening 4 games, you could be forgiven for feeling frustrated and disappointed; however, there are a lot of positives that can be taken from these games that are more important than victory in the winter tournament:

 

Hamina have kept games close

Apart from the 11-1 score line in the first jakso against Vimpeli, Hamina has actually been highly competitive in the games so far. Three out of the four games have ended in a scoring contest and the Vimpeli game ended 1-0 as HP denied the 2023 league leader’s a runaway victory by tying the second jakso 2-2. If this approach continues in the regular season, victories and extra points will follow and it will be crucial in determining the relegation battle.

 

Several key players have been missing

Even though Hamina has been competitive, we haven’t seen the team at its peak just yet. Winter games are always a time to try out new ideas and to give other players a chance to gain experience and prove themselves. When Hamina’s regular season lineup is fully assembled, the team will be even more competitive and stronger. Lauri Rönkkö, Elias Lahti, Juha Toikka and Teemu Rouhiainen have all been missed games so far. Equally, Henri Heikillä has only recently made his return in the last two games. When these players are all available and fit and healthy, this lineup will be intimidating for teams like Alajärvi, IPV, JymyJussit. I doubt that teams like Tahko and Kitee would be confident either against the full force of the orange shirts (especially in front of the home crowd at Vallikenttä).

 

Hacklin’s winter performances

Juho Hacklin is an incredible player and brings a great mix of skill and experience to the team. His statistics so far this winter have however seemed disappointing. But when you look at his career statistics for summer games against his winter performances, you can

start to see a pattern. Hacklin’s winter performances are often less impressive than his statistics in the regular season - if this continues to be the case, Hacklin will be a powerful part of Hamina’s offence during the summer. In 2024, Hacklin has only 1 run and 9 successful hits from 25 attempts, giving him a success rating of just 36.00%. When you look at the last few years, Hacklin’s Halli-SM performances have actually been quite similar, yet he has been very successful in the regular season, finishing in the top 10 most successful batters for the last 3 seasons (including second and third place in 2022 and 2023).

 

Hamina has defended third base situations well

As Sotkamo and Vimpeli proved in 2023, a solid defence is the key to success. In the Talvisuper games so far, Hamina has actually defended their position very well. This has been challenging due to Elias Lahti’s absence, but the statistics are actually quite positive. Even though Vimpeli scored 13 runs against Hamina in their recent game, HP successfully defended 13 third base situations. When you consider that Vimpeli has the most impressive batting lineup by far in the whole of Superpesis, this is actually a positive result. Overall, Hamina has defended 35 out of 60 third base positions, which is encouraging going into the regular season. What is also impressive is how Hamina managed to keep Juha Niemi scoreless in the Tahko game. Niemi has scored at least one RBI in every game he has played going back to May 2023. In fact, HP successfully defended third base situations with Niemi at bat 4 times in their narrow loss to Tahko.

 

Summary

The start of the season is still several months away and there is time to alter and improve aspects of the team. There is a great deal of talent in HPs lineup and a solid management team to support them. With the above examples in mind, there are good reasons to be optimistic about the coming season.

Article by Iain Alba

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