Howie Schwartz says team’s pitching impressed him the most this season
The Concordia Stingers baseball team wrapped up their season after playing at nationals in Fredericton, N.B., from Oct. 19 to 22. The Stingers finished the tournament tied for fifth place.
It was a mildly successful season for the Stingers. Even with 13 rookies, the team managed to finish 9-7 in the regular season—good enough for second place in the division behind eventual national champions, the McGill Redmen.
In the playoffs, Concordia lost to the Carleton Ravens in the division semi-finals, before winning the wild-card series against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. This secured their spot at nationals, where the Stingers went 1-2 in the round robin before losing to the Acadia Axemen in the tie-breaker game.
This season, outfielder Miles Arecchi-Schuh led the team in batting average, posting a .419 average over 39 at-bats. Second baseman Kyle Hazel—who manager Howie Schwartz said impressed him the most over the season—and first baseman Stefan Brady tied for the team lead in hits, with 14 each. Third baseman Michael Makarios led the team with 14 runs batted in (RBIs).
As a whole, the team struggled to click behind the plate, only hitting a .236 average and scoring 87 runs during the regular season. To compare, rival McGill scored 151 runs. Schwartz said he hopes to improve on this for next season.
“We underachieved at the plate,” he said. “Our season was won and lost based on what we did at the plate.” Schwartz added that the team’s entire hitting outlook needs to change, and this will be worked on over the winter at the Stinger Dome.
The Stingers pitching, which Schwartz described as the “weak point” coming into the season, impressed him all season long. The team had an earned run average (ERA) of 3.39, led by pitcher Shane Mullen, with a team-best ERA of 2.03. Thomas Loubser Munn and Sam Blondeau led the team in innings pitched, both with 18 1/3. Loubster Munn made his opponents swing and miss the most, posting a team best of 18 strikeouts.
Schwartz was happy with how his pitchers performed this season. “Our pitching stood out. They played way beyond what I expected of them.”
Despite the struggles behind the plate, Schwartz praised the team’s ability to come together when it mattered most.
“It took a while [to develop], but the chemistry on the team was extraordinary,” he said. “The team started to come together around playoff time.” According to Schwartz, nationals was a wonderful experience, but it was an event to build on. “Winning is very important, but [the team should have] a quality baseball experience,” he said.
There are high hopes for next year’s nationals as well. Schwartz said the goal is “not just participating in nationals, but winning nationals.”
To prepare for next season, Schwartz is already scouting players to fill roster spots. Schwartz said he has secured three players for next season, and he is also scouting “very heavily” for new talent in British Columbia and the United States.
The 2017 Stingers team both surprised and disappointed this season, but in a rebuilding year with 13 rookies, it was a year that left Schwartz hungry for next season.
Main photo by Ben Fraser.