Saturday, June 29, 2019
If one needs to find Landon Hahn on a random day, the search most likely would start and end at the same place: the batting cages next to Jackson baseball's home stadium.
Hahn goes there almost every single day to work on everything from his swing to fielding. Games, team practices or vacations are about the only things that keep him away. That dedication and work ethic comes from a place of love. He wants to improve, sure. He also just loves working on his craft that much.
It's that love for the game, and a lack of height, that led Hahn to focus on baseball exclusively for his final three years of high school. The results were evident this spring as Hahn had 41 hits and a .432 batting average to go along with 44 runs, 30 RBIs and 33 stolen bases, all top five single-season totals in program history.
Thanks to that impressive campaign, the Jackson senior shortstop and Southeast Missouri State signee is the 2019 Southeast Missourian Baseball Player of the Year.
"One of the main things that makes Landon so good, No. 1 is it's all because of his own perseverance and work ethic," Jackson coach Bryan Austin said. "Even when we do not have anything that we're doing as a high school program, Landon would always come on his own. He's one of the main reasons at our stadium we keep a pitch machine in one of our cages because we know he's going to come and hit every single day."
Austin first saw Hahn when he was a 14-year-old in the Jackson travel baseball program, and it didn't take him long to realize Hahn could be special. Soon enough, Hahn was a freshman, playing junior-varsity ball. It was after that season he made a crucial decision.
Hahn grew up a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball. He ditched football in junior high but played both basketball and baseball as a freshman. It took one high school season for Hahn to realize where his future lay.
"I'm not tall," Hahn said. "I'm not going to do anything with basketball. I knew if I was going to do anything in college, it was going to be with baseball, and it's the one I enjoyed the most."
With that switch to baseball, Hahn had more free time to spend down at the cages. There, he does everything from hitting off a tee to having a friend feed the pitching machine to working on his fielding using the FungoMan machine.
"I'll just hook it up and let it shoot me a couple buckets of ground balls," Hahn said. "Not every day it's just hitting, but most of the time it's just hitting."
Sure enough, by the time his sophomore season rolled around, Hahn was starting in the outfield for varsity, and also splitting time with the JV program. As a junior, he made the transition to shortstop. It took some getting used to, but now it's Hahn's favorite position, although he knows he'll be asked to play a little bit of everything at Southeast.
It was that junior season when Hahn began to blossom, earning first team all-conference and all-district honors for a team that advanced to the Class 5 quarterfinals.
This year, the Indians advanced to the SEMO Conference Tournament championship game for the second consecutive season.
While Hahn's senior season didn't end like he wanted, with a loss in a district semifinal game, he throughly enjoyed his time at Jackson.
"They were amazing," Hahn said. "I wouldn't trade the years for anything. Last year we lost in the quarterfinals, and even though we lost, playing in that game was one of the best experiences I ever had. That group of friends that I made that year, especially, we were just very close. I still talk to pretty much all of them."
With Hahn's high school career complete, he's now focused on the next step: Southeast.
Hahn will be one of a number of local faces on the roster and knows playing time will be hard to come by as a freshman. He does offer the Redhawks some flexibility with his ability to play in the outfield and around the infield.
"I'm not really sure how much I'm going to play my first year, so I'm just going in there and I'm just going to try to work hard and get to where they want me to be," Hahn said. "I know I need to get a little stronger to be at that level, but I'm just going to enjoy the time I have and learn from the older guys at first until my time comes."
Hahn also will bring blazing speed -- his 33 steals are the second-highest Jackson single-season total.
"He's a big difference-maker for any team that he plays for," Austin said. "For us, obviously, he was in the leadoff spot and he was what made our offense a very quality offense. Once Landon would set the table and get on base, he could steal second, he could steal third, and now we already have a runner at third base because of his speed and approach at home plate."
By this time next year, Hahn won't be at Jackson, and he might not even need to come to the Indians' batting cages. But his name is etched into the record book, and he left an impact his coach won't forget.
"He's probably one of the most prolific players we've ever had at Jackson High School," Austin said. "In my 10 years at Jackson High School, he's put up some of the best numbers that we have ever seen offensively. He'll go down as one of the top players to ever go through Jackson."
- 2019 All-Southeast Missourian Baseball team (06/29/19)