For someone whose specialty involves getting her cleats dirty, Nikki Hawkins is proving to be more than capable in a pair of sneakers.
A standout second baseman for the Ready High School softball team, Hawkins put her full focus on that sport during her junior year and decided not to play for the girls basketball program.
Once she committed to play softball for Wittenberg University, Hawkins decided she wanted one final basketball season.
Both she and the Silver Knights have been thrilled with the results.
“I didn’t play last year, but I really missed it,” Hawkins said. “I’m really glad I came back. I’m kind of surprised at how well I’m doing and how well the team is doing with me being back.”
A 5-foot-9 forward, Hawkins was Ready’s fourth-leading scorer (4.5 points per game) behind Derricka Bramwell (14.7), Dani Hall (11.7) and Katelyn Wolfe (6.8) through 10 games.
Hawkins had 19 rebounds in a 38-33 victory over Fairbanks on Dec. 5, but she’s been vital in her return for other reasons.
“She has been great for us,” coach Joe Lang said. “She’s the smartest intellectual player I’ve got. I’ve only got to tell her something one time. She’s telling the other kids what to do and she didn’t even play last year. She’s got brains and is in just the perfect position every time.”
Hawkins is one of three softball players from Ready’s 2018 senior class who have announced their college decisions. Hall will play for Eastern Michigan and Shelby Tracy will compete for Belmont Abbey.
Hawkins’ older sister, Sammy Hawkins, is a 2013 Ready graduate who played softball for two seasons at Thomas More in Crestview Hills, Kentucky.
Hawkins couldn’t shake the urge to return to a basketball team that lost three starters to graduation after going 11-13 a year ago.
Ready lost to Hartley 37-32 on Jan. 4 and fell to DeSales 59-41 on Jan. 11 to move to 6-5 overall and 0-2 in the CCL. The Knights’ league game Jan. 13 against Columbus School for Girls was postponed.
“I missed it and missed being with all the girls and practicing every day, and the games especially,” Hawkins said. “I wanted to focus on softball and do a big college push for softball (last year). It was always softball No. 1 and basketball always kind of was put on the back burner when it was softball season. I kind of just played it to keep in shape and because I loved the game.”
Before playing DeSales, the Knights had won three of four games since falling to Fairfield Christian 54-43 on Dec. 19, including beating 2017 Division IV district runner-up Granville Christian 46-42 on Jan. 6.
Ready built a 13-3 lead by the end of the first quarter against Granville Christian. Bramwell led with 15 points, followed by Wolfe (11), Hall (8) and Hawkins (6).
“We can do really well this year,” Hawkins said. “We just need to keep working and practicing hard. (I want to) just help the team in any way I can, whether that is scoring or rebounding or just being a good teammate.”
Wrestlers focus on fundamentals
With most of his lineup starting the sport over the last two years, wrestling coach Anthony Aiello has spent much of the season teaching fundamentals.
Still, he believes the Knights have turned in decent results.
“The season has gone pretty well so far,” Aiello said. “Except for (junior returnee) Andrew Halko, all of my wrestlers are first- or second-year kids, so there’s still a lot to be taught and so much to learn, but they all have some good wins under their belts and they’re getting better every week. We’ve done pretty well as a team. In our (first) three tournaments (we had) only seven guys out of 14 weight classes. I’m pretty happy overall.”
Halko won 12 of his first 15 matches at 145 pounds.
Ready was seventh (87) in the 17-team Grandview Invitational on Jan. 6 behind champion Grove City (179).
Other standouts, according to Aiello, have included his son, Aiden Aiello (113), as well as Baily Garren (heavyweight), Sam Hardenbergh (220) and Jacob Robinson (170/182).
“Our month of January is pretty tough with the tournaments we’re in every weekend,” coach Aiello said. “Then in February we slow down and get ready for sectionals. The biggest surprise for me so far would be from sophomores Jacob Robinson and Baily Garren.”
Swimmers prep for biggest meets
The three competitors in the swimming and diving program have begun to set their sights on the CCL meet and the Division II postseason.
Senior Katie Smith and freshman Elaine Smith are competing for the girls team, while senior Josh Conturo represents the boys team.
“The season is off to a great start,” coach Ann Smith said. “We’re beginning to focus on CCLs on Jan. 27 and sectionals Feb. 10.”
On Dec. 16 in the Mount Vernon Invitational at Kenyon College, Elaine Smith won the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 26.96 seconds) and 500 freestyle (5:41.47) as the girls were 12th (68) of 22 teams behind champion Mount Vernon (251).
Conturo scored 10 points as Ready placed 15th of 17 boys teams behind champion Grove City (343).
Katie Smith was fifth in both the 200 free and 100 backstroke. Conturo was 15th in the 100 free and 12th in the 50 free.
Boys basketball team extends win streak
The boys basketball team stood at 11-0 overall and 3-0 in the CCL after its game against Watterson was postponed Jan. 12.
Ready was first in last week’s Division III state poll and third in the area coaches poll behind Harvest Prep and Africentric.
In an 80-43 win over Patriot Academy on Jan. 9, Chanc Dawson had 21 points, Jaishan Norris made three 3-pointers and scored 17 points and Brady Thomas added 16 points.
Through 11 games, Dawson was averaging 18.2 points and Thomas was averaging 17.2 to lead the offense.
Below are the coming schedules for the Ready boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 19 — At St. Charles. The Silver Knights beat the Cardinals 55-54 on Dec. 8.
Jan. 23 — At Wellington
Jan. 24 — At Liberty Union
Jan. 19 — Home vs. Horizon Science
*Jan. 20 — Home vs. Watterson
*Jan. 19 — Independence at Game of Western Columbus
*Jan. 23 — Eastmoor Academy at Game of Western Columbus
Jan. 20 — Pickerington North Invitational