The Concordia Stingers 2005 season ended too early for head coach Howard Schwartz and his players, when they were swept in the first round of the playoffs.
The Stingers had to wait until late Sunday to figure out where they would be playing the first round. They had to wait for a double-header between John Abbott and Ottawa to finish. Because John Abbott won both games, they finished third and the Stingers finished fourth and had to travel to Ottawa to face the first place Gee-Gees.
“It was an inconvenience,” said Stingers head coach Howie Schwartz, “but we put ourselves in that position.”
Schwartz was “tremendously disappointed” in the team’s early exit, as he thought this team really did have enough to fight their way to the Nationals.
“I still stand by what I said at the beginning of the season. This team had what it took, we just had to battle injuries and ourselves.”
The Stingers lost their ace Nat Thomas early in the season to a blown shoulder, and the rest of the pitching staff was over-worked and tired as well. John Holden was very sick for part of the season as well.
“Pitching was supposed to be a strength for our team,” said Schwartz “but it ended up being our worst enemy.”
Schwartz continued to say that he takes responsibility for the team not believing in themselves. “It’s my fault they felt that way because it is my job.”
The Stingers were a veteran team, but according to Schwartz lacked a leader, a captain. “The team was a shy team and we became an unsure team. We needed a player to step up and confront the team, and not a coach and this team was missing that. I had a great bunch of guys this year, but we lacked leadership.”
Schwartz said that the hardest thing he had to do was to say goodbye to Richard Kilgour, a graduating veteran.
Kilgour had four hits in his final two games as a Stinger but it wasn’t enough for the team to beat the Gee-Gees.
“Here’s a guy who played his ass off for the two games and he ended up short. He wanted to get to Nationals, we all did, and we let him down.”
“The most painful part of the season was to apologize to him after giving so much.”
“If I had to sum it up, the team played hard but in the end they played scared,” Schwartz said.
Next year, the Stingers will have a young group returning but are going to be losing a lot of graduating players this season.