Although they didn’t finish where they wanted to at the end of this year, the St. F.X. Baseball Club has come leaps and bounds from the previous season, and coach Matt Hazel is looking forward to the continued growth of the team.
“The season is finished now but our plans are big for next year, because this is the first year we’ve actually made a statement in the league, that our program has developed,” said Hazel.
Hazel said St. F.X. is becoming a presence to be reckoned with in the league, which consists of six teams; Acadia University, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s University (SMU), University of New Brunswick and Holland College.
“Before, we had a very difficult time winning any games but this year, we were competitive in every single game we played.”
St. F.X. was eliminated in the playoffs Saturday by Saint Mary’s in a best-of-three series.
“The team with the best record had home field advantage, so we hosted two games of the series. If necessary, we would have gone to SMU, but they beat us in the first two games, so the third game was not necessary,” Hazel said.
St. F.X. started the first game strongly scoring two runs the first inning, “but we couldn’t bring it together to score runs. There were odd ones here and there, but you need several in a row to push runs across the plate.”
In the first game, both teams were close, “right up until the fifth or sixth inning, and that was when it kind of fell apart. SMU scored a bunch of runs,” Hazel noted.
SMU ‘mercied’ St. F.X. in the first game with a ten-run lead, resulting in an 11-1 loss for St. F.X.
The second game was closer – until the sixth inning, when SMU scored a pair of runs that pushed them ahead. That match resulted in a 5-3 loss for St. F.X.
“We were tied in the second game for the first four or five innings, and they scored that two that we just couldn’t answer,” Hazel said.
Hazel emphasized how the close contention for a lead in the early innings of both games are evidence of the strengthening team, since “all of this season, we had reliable pitching. This has been the best year we’ve had for four years.”
“We went from a record of 0-16 and not winning a game, to this season, where we won six games and could have won 10,” Hazel said.
This year, Hazel said the team had many new, young talented players on its roster, a lot of strong batters, a solid defensive presence on the field, and “top to bottom, a good, consistent lineup. It’s a matter of putting everything together.”
That lineup earned St. F.X. accolades from the other teams in the league, noting the much stronger competition from St. F.X.’s ball players making them work much harder for their wins than in previous years.
“We know we can improve if we build on the showing this year, and we can be one of the top teams, if not the top team, next year.”