The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Hawkins leaves mark on WSU, bound for New York Mets organization

From top 5 in strikeouts in Pac-12 to pro ball opportunity
Dakota Hawkins celebrates to his dugout vs. UW, May 5.

Early in WSU baseball’s 2023 season, senior pitchers Dakota Hawkins and Caden Kaelber took a look at WSU’s record book.

“I was talking to Caden [Kaelber] beginning of the year, just going over some records just looking at the scoreboard, saw 12, 13 [strikeout record] OK, that’s doable and then at the beginning of the year I hit 10, I go OK, just keep working and then I got to 12, I go alright, ya’ know, just one away, come back again next week,” Hawkins said after his 12-strikeout Apple Cup performance, May 5.

Fans in Pullman for WSU’s spring 2023 commencement weekend were greeted by a historic performance from the Cougars’ Friday-night ace Hawkins at Bailey-Brayton Field in the Boeing Apple Cup Series.

Hawkins simply did not miss as he hammered the Huskies for 12 strikeouts through 6.2 innings. Hawkins became just the seventh pitcher in WSU history to throw at least 12 strikeouts in a single game and came one strike away from tying the program record of 13.

Hawkins handed the ball to a pitcher he trusts as Kaelber struck out three of his own in relief. Between Hawkins’ 12 Ks and Kaelber’s three Ks, the Cougs achieved the eighth-most strikeouts (15) in a single game in program history.

Hawkins knew he had been flirting with history all year and delivered when the lights were brightest.

Such high-caliber play led him to sign with the New York Mets after he went undrafted in the 2023 MLB Draft.

Hawkins joins fellow Coug and W.F. West class of 2018 friend Brandon White, who pitches in the Miami Marlins organization for the Florida Complex League’s Marlins.

Both the Mets and the Marlins FCL and Low A teams play in the same Florida stadiums, so even if White or Hawkins join Low A soon, they will still be neighbors, playing just 40 minutes apart and potentially squaring off against one another if they play at the same level, according to the Daily Chronicle.

Hawkins and White are the two Cougar thirds of an elite W.F. West class of 2018 from Chehalis, as University of Washington alumn and fellow Bearcat Tyson Guerrero plays for the Kansas City Royals organization.

The three pitchers and their high school coaches reflected on their ascent to the professional ranks in a recent Daily Chronicle article.

Hawkins credited his 2023 success to a pristine off-field approach consisting of consistent physical training and a proper diet.

Whatever Hawkins was doing was certainly working as in 2023, he earned an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention with a 5-3 record and a 4.32 ERA through a career-high 14 starts and 73 innings.

In a year in which the Cougs struck out a program-record 518 hitters, Hawkins was fourth in the Pac-12 Conference in strikeouts with 92, the ninth-most single-season strikeouts in WSU history.

Former WSU head coach Brian Green was nothing short of proud of Hawkins after an incredible Apple Cup outing, May 5.

“I’m just glad that if it’s gonna happen, that Hawk does it. He deserves a lot of accolades, he’s just a winner, he’s a competitor, he gives this program everything he has, so for him to be a part of that record is outstanding. So congrats to Hawk,” Green said after Hawkins’ historic 12-strikeout outing.

WSU honored Hawkins on Senior Day alongside a large group of seniors who have spent anywhere from one to four years in Green’s program.

Hawkins transferred to WSU in 2021 from Lower Columbia College after an electric high school career at W.F. West in Chehalis.

He leaves WSU with a career 4.85 ERA in 144.2 innings with 157 strikeouts in three seasons.

Hawkins’s final career start came when the Cougars needed him most. Needing to beat a top 10 and eventual College World Series participant Stanford Cardinal, Hawkins spun six innings, in which he allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits.

Wazzu nearly won that game behind solid pitching from Hawkins and co. and an amazing performance from fellow senior Jacob McKeon who found his way on base six times.

The Cougars lost that game 7-6 in extra innings, but Hawkins certainly did his part against one of the most prolific offenses in the nation.

Hawkins struck out eight Stanford hitters, including Tommy Troy, the second most consistent hitter in the Pac-12 Conference with a .397 batting average in 2023. The Arizona Diamondbacks made Troy their first-round selection (12th overall) July 9 in the 2023 MLB Draft.

After proving he can strikeout MLB first-round prospects, all Hawkins needed was an opportunity and he will get just that as he begins his career in the Mets’ Florida facility.

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About the Contributors
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the sports editor for spring 2024. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year and managing editor for the summer and fall 2023. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves sports and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.