A bright future lies ahead for the baseball team.
After a season-opening 6-3 win against the McGill Redbirds on Sept. 6 at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Park, the Concordia Stingers and their head coach Howie Schwartz are optimistic about their upcoming season and their future in varsity baseball.
This year, the Stingers will be competing against teams from the Ontario University Athletics (OUA), as well as other Quebec universities who are trying out for a potential new league for the 2023-24 season with the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ).
“We have four teams now: Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, McGill, Concordia, and University of Montreal. Bishop’s is going to be available next year, and then we’ll have an official league. We’re playing those three teams unofficially on a sixteen-game schedule and in the OUA on a sixteen-game schedule,” said Schwartz.
The coach also expressed a lot of satisfaction and confidence in his team, which is mostly made up of rookies.
“Our team is just much stronger defensively. We’ve had three games so far and our defence has picked up considerably from last year. I still want to see some improvement with our hitting, but even [that] has strengthened.”
Out of a roster of 40, only about 12 are returning from the 2021-22 season. However, Schwartz noticed that the rookies have been acclimating nicely to the program. Due to his heavy recruitment efforts in the off-season, some of those recruits came from as far as B.C. to play for the Stingers.
Catcher Mack Lake, a first-year student in economics from B.C., said he wanted to stay in Canada to play baseball in university. His first meeting with Schwartz cemented his decision to come to Concordia.
“Howie was just wonderful. Talking to him was really nice and I felt like he wanted me to come,” said Lake, a baseball player for almost a decade.
“Most of all, on the mound, we have a much stronger and deep pitching staff, and, at this level, pitching is going to make a difference. I’m very pleased with our pitchers this year,” continued Schwartz.
Against McGill, such a bullpen was beneficial to the team. Due to a rotation of five talented pitchers, the Redbirds’ batting lineup could never get used to any one of them. But that same bullpen will be stretched thinner as they prepare for an intense week ahead.
The Stingers will be facing the Redbirds for the third time this season on Sept. 20.
“They’re surely going to be ready for us. They don’t like losing to us and we don’t like losing to them,” said Schwartz with a chuckle.
On Sept. 12, the Stingers played an exhibition game against the John Abbott College Islanders that resulted in a 10-8 win for Concordia. The Stingers will be headed to Trois-Rivières for an exhibition double-header against Collège Laflèche on Saturday, while their next league double-header will take place on Sunday in Ottawa against Carleton University.