Coming up just short is heartbreaking for any team in any sport, but the heartbreak is even worse when your archrivals drink in the sweet taste of victory.
This was the case last year for the Concordia baseball team who, after winning a national championship in 2009, were eliminated in the CIBA national semi-finals, falling to the Brock Badgers. Brock would eventually lose to McGill in the championship, a team Concordia had already defeated in the regional championship and in round robin play in the tournament.
If the 2011 team hopes to recapture any of the success last season they will have to do it without two key components. Mehdi Djebbar, the ace of the pitching staff last year, will be forced to miss this season due to injury and Braden Simpson, the staff’s number two pitcher last year, has elected not to return to school.
“Any team would feel that kind of blow,” said manager Howard Schwartz. “I’m relying on all 25 guys to step up and play the kind of baseball I know they can play. Great pitching wins championship so the pressure will be on the pitchers to fill the gaps and patch the gaping holes in our rotation.”
Despite the losses of Djebbar and Simpson, Schwartz believes this team has potential to do great things.
“I think offensively and defensively, this year’s squad may actually be better than last year,” he said. “I think the big question mark is pitching.”
If the pitching staff takes a positive approach to their roles, and “gels,” Schwartz thinks they could be a force to reckon with. But the team has to come together to make it work.
“This year, more than in the past two, we are going to have to work very closely together if we want to have a chance to win it all,” he added.
Schwartz will also be looking at Jason Katz to take an even bigger leadership role on the team after batting an impressive .444 last season, tops in the CIBA Northern Conference.
“(Katz) is a major student of the game,” Schwartz said. “He understands his role and based on the changes made is going to take it upon himself to be even more of a leader than he was before.”
The Stingers will begin the regular season Sept. 4 when they host the Carleton Ravens for a double-header. The game begins at noon at Trudeau Park.