First baseman Owen Helgesen has been on the fence in regards of playing college baseball, even after he committed to Piedmont College in December.
That was before the coronavirus arrived in mid-March and prevented him from having a proper finish to his Hillgrove career. Once it was confirmed that the season was canceled, baseball at the college level was a no-brainer. So he signed with the Lions in April.
“Hanging the cleats up at Hillgrove was a bummer,” said Helgesen, who plans on majoring in marketing. “I have a love for baseball so I wanted to keep playing in college. So I’m excited about it.”
Helgesen’s season was further curtailed because of basketball season. A starting forward for the Hawks, which advanced to the second round of the Class AAAAAAA state tournament, he missed the first four scheduled baseball games.
Once he got into sync, so did his teammates. The Hawks got off to a tough start, but they were on a six-game winning streak when the Georgia High School Association required them to stop playing because of the coronavirus pandemic.
He maintained a .333 batting average in the few games he played. His memorable highlight was Hillgrove sweeping Kennesaw Mountain to start Region 3AAAAAAA play.
Helgesen knew something was not quite right on the day Cobb County announced schools would be closing.
“We were hitting in the batting cages, and coaches are usually interacting with us down there,” Helgesen said. “They had gotten a call or a text from someone and then walked away by themselves, which was kind of odd. Then they cut practice short and told us to take stuff out of the locker room. I thought it would be a week or two and we’d be back, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”
Holding on hopes that baseball would continue, he would take batting practice at the cage in Chandler Abrams’ backyard and got to his next door neighbor’s house to lift weights.
The 6-foot-4 Helgesen grew up playing both baseball and basketball. Although he was successful at both, baseball was where his true talent lies. He started out playing catcher, but when he got too tall, he switched to first base.
His height allows him to bail out teammates if throws to first are off target. He can use his long arms and legs to stretch to dig balls off the ground without lifting his foot off the bag.
“Owen has great hands and great feet around the bag and has good defensive instincts,” Hillgrove coach David Richardson said. “Owen is a very good athlete as he was also a starter on the Hillgrove men’s basketball team. He is a competitive young man and very coachable.”