By Ned Bekavac
Diamonds are a new best friend for a group of student-athletes at Our Lady of Lourdes high school.
For the first time in eight or nine years, the school has a District 10 baseball team.
“They’re excited to be back,” says Lourdes coach Marc Sgrignoli, of his players.
Sgrignoli, a former Lourdes player himself who played Intercounty ball with the Guelph Royals this past summer, had heard hints of a potential baseball return in recent years, but there just weren’t enough guys to make it happen.
This time, students approached principal Mike MacPherson to see if a team could be put together, and a home run was hit.
Things got rolling, and Sgrignoli, a teacher at the local high school, was asked if he’d be up for coaching.
“I said, ‘If the interest is there, I’d be thrilled,’” he says.
About 26 players showed an interest in playing and the roster currently stands at 15 players.
Numbers could have been higher, but some potential players had commitments to play volleyball, which runs at the same time.
Sgrignoli’s connections have scored the Crusaders some Royal help.
The team will get coaching from the likes of Guelph Royals pitching ace Andrew Van’t Wout, and longtime Royals coach Paul Ante.
“I think we can offer the kids something that other schools might not be able to, on a volunteer basis,” says Sgrignoli.
The team isn’t digging out and dusting off any nearly decade-old uniforms, and instead has a cash plan that will eventually see them stylin’ and profilin’ a couple of years in.
The team this year will be wearing pull-over style shirts, and hopes are that next year they’ll have a snazzy V-Neck look.
“This year’s shirts will be next year’s undershirts,” Sgrignoli said with a laugh.
Nearby Hastings Stadium, home of the Royals and Silvercreeks, will by the home field for the Crusaders.
Lourdes opened its season with a 12-2 loss against Bishop Mac, the defending champs, at Larry Pearson Park.
What the young Crusaders might lack in experience, they make up for in other things, said the coach.
“We have guys who are really interested, willing, and committed,” says Sgrignoli.
He says the team will just try to get a little better each time out, and hopefully increase interest at the school.
A .500 finish this season for the Crusaders would be “enormously successful,” he says.
But even if wins don’t come, there’s the big picture to look at.
“The victory will be in having a team,” says Sgrignoli.
The Crusaders’ first home game is today (Thursday) when they host Guelph CVI at 4 p.m. at Hastings Stadium.
The District 10 season started Monday with a pair of games. St. James beat Centennial 2-1 and John F. Ross beat Centre Wellington 12-2.
Crusaders Player Roster:
• Trevor Beattie, Mathew Bendfeld, Craig Carscadden, Adam Ciccia, Joshua Ciccia, Michael Durcick, Reese Favero, Stephen Gade, Nicholas Lannutti, Mitchell McPhee, Seamus Mooney, Michael Moriarty, Zack Stoltz, Jackson Toms, Harrison Young.
• Marc Sgrignoli, Paul Ante, Pat Giacamomastro, Jeff Mesman, Andrew Van’t Wout.