Halen Knoll WCL Pitcher of the Year!
Edmonton Product a Magician on the Mound
“I was so shocked,” was the honest and humble reaction of Riverhawks starting pitcher Halen Knoll after receiving the news that he had been named the West Coast League’s 2023 Pitcher of the Year.
The 23-year-old Edmonton native was in Toronto taking in his first MLB game when he got the call that he had been voted the top pitcher in the league. When asked what an award of this calibre means to him, he explained: “It's just a stepping stone, but it's such an honour. I'm just so happy I was able to play with the Riverhawks all summer and have such a good year.”
In a stacked West Coast League that boasts a number of elite pitchers across the board, Knoll made a strong impression from day one. He was named the opening day starter for the season and quickly emerged as the team's ace. The right-hander was a workhorse on the mound all summer. He led the league in innings pitched (73.2 IP), finished second in strikeouts (52 K), fourth in ERA (2.20), and third in wins (5).
Knoll is set to remain in Edmonton this winter and will be taking his talents to the Edmonton Collegiate Hawks this Fall. The Collegiate team competes in the Canadian College Baseball Conference and is comprised of local student-athletes attending universities within the Capital Region. As Halen prepares to transition to the CCBC and begin his Computer Information Technology program through Athabasca University, his number one on-field goal is quite simple - “to throw harder!”
“During the Riverhawks season, I was throwing around 86, 87, and touching 88 (mph). If I could sit around 90, that would be nice,” he explained. “I can only imagine what will happen if I actually throw hard,” he jokingly added.
Halen credits much of his success this summer to the support of his teammates and coaching staff. “Teammates-wise, this is the best summer experience I’ve ever had,” he explained. “The coaches are so supportive and they let me do the things I need to do in order to get better, which has led to a lot of my success this year.”
Riverhawks head coach Jake Lanferman expressed his excitement over his star pitcher’s achievements this season as well as his potential moving forward. “He’s a fearless competitor. When we have him out there I know his energy feeds to the other players. Every time he’s on the mound, we’ve got a really good shot to win a game. We’re excited to have him back next summer to hopefully do it all over again.”
Aside from Knoll’s tremendous on-field contributions, Riverhawks General Manager Steve acknowledged the pitcher's enthusiastic participation in creating memorable experiences for fans.“Halen is everything you’d want a Riverhawk to be. He’s a wonderful pitcher yet he’s humble and a great teammate on and off the field,” Hogle says. “Halen was the first one to put on pink socks to support us when we staged Barbie Night, so to see the WCL recognize him as the pitcher of the year is a testament to not only his skills as a player but also his character as a person.”
Beyond his success on the mound, Halen says that having the chance to play in his hometown in front of family, friends and the Riverhawks faithful has been a rewarding experience in itself. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather play,” he says. “I can stay at home [with family] and the fans are so awesome!”
When reflecting on this memorable season, the newly minted Pitcher of the Year had one final message to share with Hawks Nation: “Thank you to all the fans for coming out to all of our games, it was awesome! We had a record-breaking attendance season, hopefully, we can beat it next year! I hope that we played good enough baseball for you guys to enjoy it!”