It was a night to celebrate the successes of the Laurier Men’s Baseball program. The Second Annual Laurier Baseball Recognition Banquet took place on Sunday December 2nd at the Senate and Board Chamber. There were 80 people in attendance and the evening was a great success.
Assistant Coaches Bob Elliott and Kevin Albrecht were the co-MC’s for the evening and did a great job entertaining the crowd. The highlight of the evening for most was a presentation made by another Assistant Coach, Dennis Schooley. Schooley wooed the crowd with his magic tricks, jokes and stories.
The first award presentation of the evening was made by former Golden Hawk Assistant Coach Don Pickett. Pickett presented the fourth and fifth year athletes with a plaqued photo of themselves. The graduating players include RHP Brad Binns, RHP Jared Kwart, RHP Tim Lawrence, OF Jon Roth and RHP Adam Scheerer. Binns played 2 years with the program and was awarded the 2006 Rookie Pitcher of the Year Award. In 2007 Binns recorded the program’s first ever OUA Playoff win. Kwart was a member of the program for 3 years and blossomed into one of the team’s most reliable relief pitchers. Kwart’s vocal leadership on and off the field will be missed. Lawrence joined the program in 2004 and by 2005 had cemented himself as one of the team’s top starting pitchers. Lawrence was chosen as team MVP in 2006 and competed in the Inaugural OUA All-Star Showcase at the Rogers Centre this past May. Lawrence leaves Laurier as one of the program’s most celebrated starting pitchers and his innings will be difficult to replace. Roth is a hard nosed player who was chosen as the winner of the 2006 Ultimate Team Player Award. Roth only knows how to play the game one way, and that’s hard. Scheerer joined the program in 2007 after previously starring as a member of the Vanier Cup winning football program. Scheerer is a bulldog on the mound and served as the team’s closer in 2007, giving up only 1 earned run in his 8 plus innings. These graduating players will be missed and the coaching staff wish to thank them for all they’ve done to improve the program.
The next group of players to be recognized were the 2007 OUA All-Stars. The All-Stars were presented with a plaque from the OUA and a purple and gold commemorative bat courtesy of KR-3. This year’s All-Stars include: 2B Scott Mahn on the First Team with 1B Curtis Young, SS Damien Eccleton and OF Andrew Stevens on the Second Team. Head Coach Scott Ballantyne was chosen as OUA Coach of the Year. Mahn made the First Team for the second consecutive year at a different position each year. After filling in for the injured Jordan Bilkas at third base in 2006 and earning a spot on the All-Star Team, Mahn moved to second base in 2007 and served as the team’s lead-off hitter. Mahn is one of the best lead-off hitters in the OUA and was the sparkplug of the Golden Hawk offense. Young earned his second All-Star selection in 2007 after another strong season. Young settled in to set a career high in RBI with 11 and anchored the middle of the Golden Hawk order. Eccleton took over for the starting SS role from former All-Star Pat Kropf. Eccleton had a tremendous season for the Hawks playing stellar defense and finished with a batting average of .327. Stevens won the starting job in right field after impressing the coaching staff with his smooth swing from the left side of the plate. A former pitcher turned outfielder, Stevens led the team in hitting with a .387 average and worked extremely hard to earn his All-Star Selection. Scott Ballantyne took over the Head Coaching duties of the program in 2007 after serving as an Assistant Coach under Paul Reidel for 3 years after a 5 year playing career. Coach Ballantyne was selected by his peers as the OUA Coach of the Year in his first season following a 9-9 regular season record. The Hawks came within a game of eliminating the heavily favoured Western Mustangs in the OUA semi-finals.
The final set of Awards was presented by Assistant Coach Dennis Schooley and included the following awards: Most Improved Player, Ultimate Team Player Award, Rookie Pitcher of the Year, Rookie Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year.
And the winners were:
Most Improved Player – SS Damien Eccleton – Eccleton took over the starting shortstop job from Pat Kropf and had a fantastic season. The coaching staff was expecting Eccleton to provide solid defense, but it was his offensive game that was most impressive. Eccleton proved to be one of the team’s most consistent hitters and was one of the guys who came through in the clutch to help win a couple big ball games for the team.
Ultimate Team Player Award – 3B/1B/C Chris Pittaway – Pittway was a warrior for the Hawks in 2007. He played first base, third base and caught a few games. No matter what position he played, he always provided solid leadership and was one of the players that the younger players look up to. No matter the situation, the coaching staff could always count on Pittway to put the team ahead of himself.
Rookie Pitcher of the Year – David Canavan – Canavan joined the program in 2007 out of the Team Ontario program and lived up the hype from his first start of the season. Canavan beat Guelph in his Laurier debut and was chosen as WLU Athlete of the Week for his efforts. The highlight of the season for Canavan was his complete game victory over the previously undefeated Western Mustangs. Canavan loves to pitch and every time he goes out he gives his team a chance to win the ball game. Laurier is lucky to have David as part of the program and expect him to play an important role for years to come.
Rookie Player of the Year – C Gary Money – Money joined the program in 2007 following a solid season with the Brantford Braves Junior program that competed at the Junior National Championships. Money was an impact player for the Hawks in 2007 from behind the plate. He has one of the strongest arms in the league and has the ability to change the face of a game by shutting down the opposition’s running game. Gary is a hard worker and will be a valuable member of the program for years to come.
Pitcher of the Year – (Co-winners) – Brad Binns and Tim Lawrence. Both Binns and Lawrence had tremendous seasons for the Golden Hawks in 2007. Binns was consistent from his first start to his last. Binns is a veteran pitcher who changes speeds and keeps the hitters off balance. The highlight of the season for Binns was his start in the playoffs when he earned the victory in Laurier’s 13-6 win over Western. Lawrence had a rocky start to the season, but recovered to provide the Hawks with quality starts down the stretch. The highlight of the season for Lawrence was a complete game shut out victory over the Toronto Varsity Blues on a night when he out-duelled 2006 OUA Pitcher of the year Jake Gallo. Both pitchers had great seasons and provided the Hawks with plenty of quality innings.
Player of the Year – 2B Scott Mahn – The team’s lead-off hitter is the 2007 winner of the Most Valuable Player Award. Mahn was a sparkplug at the top of the order and played solid defence at second base for the Hawks. Mahn’s leadership and hustle are second to none and he also led the team in hits.
The night also included remarks from Laurier Athletic Director PETER BAXTER and Associate Director of Development Kent MacLennan. Head Coach Scott Ballantyne also addressed the players and their guests and introduced the theme for the 2008 season, ‘Go the Extra Mile’.
The team would like to thank everyone who donated items to the silent auction, including Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, Scott Thorman of the Atlanta Braves, Brian Breckles of the Laurier Alumni Association, Mr. Hutzul and the Laurier Athletic Department. A very special thanks to Amy Roefs for all her time and effort in making the Banquet a success.
The returning players have started their training regiment for the 2008 season and following the exam period, will resume their indoor sessions together to prepare to take the next step in 2008.