In February, with Montrealers dealing with the unbearable cold, the Concordia Stingers baseball team started workouts for their 2007 season; inside of course.
Coach Howard Schwartz has lead the workout sessions that take place every Saturday from 12:30 to 2:30 at the Loyola Gym.
“The season might start in September but it’s important for the guys to start working together now on fundamentals, something we had a lot of trouble with last year,” said Schwartz, who has been with the team since the program started in 1995.
Last season, they failed to make the playoffs with a record of 3-13. Schwartz blamed the team’s inexperience.
“We had a lot of rookies on the team (14 out of 21) and we were just making a lot of fundamental mistakes. It honestly looked like the players were afraid out there. This year, I hope it will be different. We will practice through the summer once a week and it’s the first time I’ve ever done that. I have lots of good drills set up to work specifically what we need help in.”
According to Schwartz, an average of 10 players come to each session, a number he expects to increase over time.
“A lot of people are having trouble because of time commitments and other priorities. But as we get closer to the season, there will be more people I’m sure. There are already some keeners who show up to each practice and that number should rise.”
One player that Schwartz puts in that group is returning catcher Adam Iasenzeniro.
“There are not a lot of people but so far with the people that are here, there is great chemistry,” said Iasenzeniro.
“I think this year everything is more organized and we have a lot of returning guys who are learning to play with each other, which I believe will really help in the long run.”
Iasenzeniro is among 11 players expected to come back from last year’s squad. Mike Panton and Alex Monfette will look to be returning after a year hiatus from the team.
Last year, Panton, who previously won two team MVP awards with the Stingers, was ruled ineligible.
Monfette, in the meantime, took a year off from Concordia to pursue his studies and play pro ball in France. Although it is not confirmed, he is expected back for a second stint as well.
“Getting these guys will be a huge bonus,” said Schwartz.
“Panton is a great hitter and unhittable pitcher. He also plays a great third base. Monfette covers a lot of ground in centre field, and he hits the ball real hard as well.
In addition to these two players, the Stingers might also add former McGill Redbird third baseman, Adrian Milroy.
Despite a disappointing season last year, Milroy had a strong performance in the National Championships, where he helped McGill to victory. The six-foot-two-inch fourth year veteran has graduated from McGill and is looking to pursue studies in Mechanical Engineering either at the University of British Columbia or Concordia.
“I’d definitely like to play with Mike (Panton) because we’ve been friends for so long,” said Milroy, who graduated from Royal West Academy with Panton.
“I feel that I can really add to this team as far as leadership skills go. I am disappointed about how I did last year and I feel I have to turn it around. But we’ll see. It’s a matter of staying here in my comfort zone where I have my girlfriend, friends and family or moving out and exploring. I’ll make that decision soon.”
In the event that Milroy plays for Concordia, he will probably take the third base position and Panton will either move to shortstop or second base. According to Schwartz though, “nothing is set in stone,” said Schwartz.
“There is still a lot to work on and we’re still not 100 per cent sure of all the players that will be back. Last year, I thought we’d have a much better team, and look what happened. This year, I’m a little more gun shy with predictions, but I think we have the potential to do really well.”
The season starts the first week of September.
Home games are held at Trudeau Park in C