Season Preview - Men’s

Season Preview - Men’s

Now that the men’s team is back in Superpesis, the question is whether they can outperform their rivals before the league shrinks from 13 to 12 teams ahead of the 2025 season.

 

What an incredible year 2023 was for the club: with the Women’s team outperforming expectations and keeping their place in Superpesis, as well as a championship season for the Men, who celebrated their return to the top division. As a result, Hamina are the latest club to have a team in both the Men’s and the Women’s Superpesis. The club has a solid fan base, success in their junior programmes and a hunger for success in the top division; with these key assets and a solid management team, this club is surely on the road to great things.

 

Who is out?

Joosua Rättö was a crucial part of Hamina’s success in 2023 and conversations started early in the 2023 season about where he may move to for 2024 and beyond. It seemed that HP would be unlikely to keep Rättö, so his departure at the end of the season was not unexpected. Rättö’s presence in the lineup will be missed, but the new signings exchange his youth with experience. Kaapo Klamari has been an important link in the lineup over the last two seasons, but has returned to his breeder club (Tahko) for the coming season. Ville Rämet earned valuable experience with HP in Ykköspesis and has left the club following the end of the 2023 season.

 

Who is in?

Hamina was very active in signing new players after thy had secured their promotion to Superpesis. For 2024, HP have signed Lauri Rönkkö from Sotkamo, Juho Hacklin from JoMa as well as Antti Kortteenperä and Aleksi Rantala from Koskenkorva. Elmo Peltonen played 18 games for Hamina in 2023 regular season and now makes the move to HP as part of the list of signings. These huge moves are a sign of intent from the team: bringing in Rönkkö and Hacklin add both great experience and depth as well as improving on some of the 2023 roster’s weaker points. Hacklin was a bit of a ‘spare part’ in JoMa until Joni Rytkönen was suspended by the team. But he will find himself in a central role organising HP outfield. Rönkkö’s hitting power is exactly what HP needs to make the step up over the teams at the bottom of the league.

 

Strengths

Hamina has a number of strengths, from the talented young Elias Lahti to the veteran star signings Lauri Rönkkö and Juho Hacklin. Elias has been a solid pitcher in the last few seasons and he is a strong foundation to base the team’s defence. Juho Hacklin has significant experience as an outfielder and will add further improvement to one of the team’s weaker aspects. Teemu Rouhiainen will be a constant presence in the outfield, with Johannes Kiri being a third option. This will allow the team greater flexibility to play Hacklin as a joker.

HPs offence has been significantly boosted by the signings in the offseason. Although Joosua Rättö would have been a great player to hold on to, Rönkkö and Hacklin add great scoring opportunities. Rouhiainen was remarkable in 2023 with 61 runs in the regular season - the most in Ykköspesis by a significant amount. In fact the second highest number of runs was Lohi’s Valtteri Havukainen, who had 36 runs. Rouhiainen has a number of years of Superpesis experience and his speed and skill are better than runners in other teams like Alajärvi.

Overall, the team’s strongest asset is the team management and fans behind them. The club has made a number of bold signings in the offseason, exactly what this team needs to fight to keep their place in Superpesis. Also, the fans in Hamina have played a huge part in the team’s success. During the 2023 season, HP only lost 3 games at home during the regular season in Ykköspesis. With home attendance on average 912 people each game, this was over 300 more than the second place team and in fact was better than PattU, IPV and KoU! With even bigger names coming to Vallikenttä, a strong home crowd will keep HP energised and hopefully rise above teams like IPV, who seem to have lost their drive and focus.

 

 

Weaknesses

Hamina’s Talvisuper revealed that the inconsistencies from 2023 still remain. Whilst Hamina has a solid fan base, some incredible new signings and bright young talent, there are times when the team underperforms. Although HP finished top of the league in the regular season, there were games that they should have won, but they let slip away. In Ykköspesis that wasn’t a big problem, but there is a lot of pressure in 2024 to avoid 13th place at the end of the regular season. Because the last placed team will be automatically relegated and the 11th and 12th place teams are at risk of relegation, every single point will be vital. HP cannot afford to lose opportunities to win games; points will not be easy to earn and they will have to play to the best of their abilities consistently.

 

The main opponents

The first task for Hamina is to stay as far away from 13th place as possible. The likely candidates for bottom of the table will be their main focus throughout the season, but some Local rivalries too will add spice to the season:

 

Alajärven Ankkurit snatched promotion out of HPs hands in 2022. Despite finishing bottom of the league in 2023, Alajärvi managed to fight off their competition and keep their place in Superpesis. In 2024 the team at the bottom of the league at the end of the regular season will be automatically relegated. Playoffs will not save them this time, so games against Alajärvi will be essential for HP to win.

 

IPV have played several training games in the lead up to the start of the season. The reds are vulnerable and HP has proven that they can play as well as (if not better) than their neighbours to the East. A few crucial points could be available if Hamina can take advantage of IPVs weakness.

 

KPL’s Ykköspesis team proved to be an exciting opponent in the last few seasons, but now HP are in Superpesis they get a chance to take on their elite team. If HP can steal a victory against Kopla, it would be as sweet as mämmi!

 

Key home matches

08.05.2024 - Hamina v Sotkamo

The clash of the champions. Current Ykköspesis champions HP last beat Sotkamo in 1986. Whilst there is a chance that they could beat them in their season opener, Hamina will want to earn a victory in front of their home crowd.

 

14.06.2024 - Hamina v IPV

In the pre-season training game at Vallikenttä, HP pulled off an impressive victory. Can they do it again?

 

12.07.2024 Hamina v KPL

In the middle of the summer, what more could you ask for? Sun; Sausages and a victory! Will that would be the dream. Hosting the local rivals will be a great chance to show HPs true strengths.

 

24.07.2024 Hamina v Alajärven Ankkurit

This could be the game that makes the difference before the second part of the regular season. If HP can take 3 points, it could be significant.

 

Prediction

Hamina are in a great position: they will be enjoying a sense of accomplishment from their promotion last year, but they have also heavily reinforced their lineup with some great signings. The fans at Vallikenttä are always a huge boost for the team and their home record shows that. If they can escape some of the inconsistencies, they could avoid talks of relegation completely, but I suspect that this year will not run as smoothly. I predict they will finish 11 and avoid relegation.

 

Article by Iain Alba

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