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Stars shine first day of Area Code Games


Day 1 New Balance Awards: Nick Swisher 'American Muscle'. Friday saw the first two contests take place at the 2011 Area Code Baseball Games, presented by New Balance. The theme of the day was "power," and a slugger from each game was honored for his ability to show some muscle at the plate.

Game #1: White Sox vs. Rangers

New Balance awarded Courtney Hawkins of the Texas Rangers squad the Nick Swisher 'American Muscle' Award for his demonstration of power in the inaugural game of the 2011 Area Code Baseball Games.

Hawkins, a 6-foot-3, 215 pound outfielder/pitcher from Mary Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas), doubled to the left field wall with two outs in the top of the 3rd inning and knocked in another run in the top of the 5th on a sac fly to center.

Although the game was scheduled to go only seven innings, he led off the top of the 8th inning with a walk, stole third and scored what proved to be the go-ahead run in the Rangers' 9-5 win.

Hawkins, a University of Oklahoma commit and Class 5A 1 st team all-state selection, hit .427 as a junior, had a team-high 15 home runs and also recorded 34 steals.

Of the powerful double, Hawkins said, "It was a fastball down the middle, a case of 'see ball, hit ball.' I was glad to be able to come out and produce. It was a fun first game and you gotta love the weather."

Game #2: Reds vs. Royals

New Balance honored Clint Coulter with the second Nick Swisher 'American Muscle' Award given Friday. Coulter clubbed two of his team's seven hits in leading the Royals to a 4-0 win over the Reds in the nightcap of the first day's Area Code Game action.

He had a double, triple, run scored and two RBI in the shutout victory.

Coulter, a catcher from Union (Camas, Wash.), knows something about strength, winning the Washington State wrestling championship at 189 pounds in 2010, but he gave up the sport to focus on baseball exclusively this year.

The 6-foot-3, 215 pound slugger hit .500 last season with five home runs, 22 RBI and 56 runs scored. He is uncommitted but interested in several Pac-12 schools.

He credits having played in the Area Code Games last year as a key to getting a good start this week.

"Obviously, it's a great feeling to get an award in an all-star event like this one," he explained after the game. "I was, fortunately, able to get the nerves out in Year One and I'm very comfortable with this team because I played with many of my teammates in the fall."