E.A. Sports Today

Trust factor

Piedmont’s Hanson sticks with first offer, will get to play baseball with lifelong teammate Hayes at Snead State Community College

Piedmont athletics director Steve Smith talks during Thursday’s ceremony to mark the signings of Bulldog standouts Max Hanson (left) and Jack Hayes to play baseball for Snead State Community College. (Photo by Joe Medley)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT — Max Hanson is a trust guy, and trust shut down his baseball recruitment early.

The process culminated in Thursday’s joint celebration with Jack Hayes at Piedmont High School. Both Bulldog stars signed with Snead State.

The process for Hanson was short.

“I told myself the first person that took a chance on me, I was going to take it and run with it,” Hanson said.

That first person to take a chance on Hanson was Snead assistant coach Andrew Porch, who played with Hanson’s dad at Snead.

“I already kind of knew him, and he told me he was going to give me an offer,” Hanson said. “I told him I wanted to play there.”

Huntingdon College reached out to Hanson later, but Hanson kept the faith.

“I just had to tell them that I had already committed to Snead,” he said. “That’s just kind of how I’ve always been. Whoever puts trust in me, I trust them.

“They were the first to trust me, so I just knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

Hanson committed while Hayes weighed his options. Hayes had the offer from Snead, among other schools, but also kept his mind open for football offers.

“We’re full on Snead right now,” Hayes said.

Hayes committed to Snead after Hanson, and he looks forward to his long road ending at a short porch.

“It’s really what they’ve been doing in the past and the fence length, the short left field,” he said about Snead’s 305-foot left-field line. “They raised it a little bit this year. They didn’t move it back.

“I still think we’ll be all right.”

Jack Hayes’ memorabilia tables at Thursday’s ceremony to mark his and teammate Max Hanson’s signing with Snead State Community College (Photos by Joe Medley)

Hayes is set to embark on the last season of one of Calhoun County’s most decorated careers for a high school athlete.

He finished his football career as a four-time, first-team all-state selection and two-time Class 3A back of the year, as chosen by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. He was also a two-time Class 1A-3A Calhoun County player of the year.

He tops four Alabama High School Athletic Association all-time lists: 223 total touchdowns (rushing and passing), 159 touchdown passes, 15,104 total yards and 11,024 passing yards.

He was 51-8 as a starting quarterback.

He played in the Alabama North-South All-Star Game in December.

In baseball, Hayes is a three-time all-state pick, 2021 Class 3A hitter of the year and 2022 3A player of the year. He was ASWA Super All-State and Alabama Baseball Coaches Association dual player of the year for 2022.

He holds Piedmont career records for hits (182) and runs batted in (175) with still his senior year to play.

As for any regrets about not playing football in college, he offered none from his end of it.

“The only regret is really out of my control,” he said. “I really can’t help that, but I think I did all I can do.”

Hanson has batted .389 with a .491 on-base percentage over 124 games from 2020-22. He has 119 hits, 134 runs and 71 RBIs.

Batting in the No. 2 slot in the lineup the last two seasons, he earned a reputation for two-out RBIs in clutch situations. He drove in go-ahead runs in Games 2 and 3 of the state semifinals and Game 1 of the state finals in 2022.

Hanson is a two-time all-state and All-Calhoun County pick.

He also made all-state a defensive back/wide receiver in football.

Hanson and Hayes have played together since youth league. They played in the Dixie Youth World Series together in 2013.

“Just being with him, basically, my whole baseball career and getting to have fun with him, and now we get to live together, basically, at Snead and continue to play together,” Hayes said.

Many of those memories showed in pictures and memorabilia at Thursday’s ceremony. Hayes’ exhibit, featuring only baseball memorabilia, spread and stacked over two tables. Hanson had a table and three-fold fence exhibit.

Their roads, mostly shared, converged to wear the same baby-blue Snead cap Thursday.

“It’s really cool. It’s a dream come true,” Hanson said. “I’ve always wanted to do this, since I was really little.”

Max Hanson’s memorabilia display during Thursday’s ceremony to mark his and Piedmont teammate Jack Hayes’ signing with Snead State Community College. (Photos by Joe Medley)

Cover photo: Piedmont’s Max Hanson (left) and Jack Hayes celebrate their signings to play baseball with Snead State Community College on Thursday at Piedmont High School. (Photo by Joe Medley)

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