After years of winning championships as a club team while struggling for recognition, Brock’s baseball team is finally getting some respect. Ontario University Athletics (OUA) has recognized America’s national sport in Ontario.The organization bases its decision to admit on interest level, coaching availability, eligibility, facility requirements, safety, financial feasibility and affiliation with sport governing bodies.
The first season will see McMaster, Guelph, Brock, Waterloo, Laurier, York and Toronto competing in the league.
The practical effect on the team is “a little bit more legitimacy,” says Jeff Lounsbury, head coach of Brock’s baseball team.
“We’re now a varsity sport, not a club sport,” he says. “Although, I’ve never felt that way [inferior] at our school. We’ve always been treated as a varsity sport in the eyes of our athletic department.”
He does feel that OUA recognition will help improve the level of competition.
“It’ll help baseball as a whole in Canada,” he says. “It may keep a few more kids in Canada.”
The decision was not a surprise to Lounsbury, who has been lobbying for years to get recognition for his team.
“It took six years of hard work — of running the baseball program like a varsity sport,” he said. “We did so much work to run like a varsity sport that we made the universities pay attention.”
He says that he thinks baseball can help the OUA, as well as vice versa.
“We have a good strong fan base, and strong school support,” he says.
Lounsbury says he hopes to get more Ontario schools involved in the OUA. There are four schools that play in the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association (CIBA), which haven’t joined the OUA but Lounsbury hopes they will.
“I’d like to see the OUA take this to the next level,” he says, envisioning high-profile televised championships.
“More players will get recognition,” he says. “That’ll help them get drafted out of the league.”
The team will continue to compete in CIBA, which has 20 members in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. Lounsbury says the OUA champion will still go to the CIBA championships. And he plans for the Badgers to be there.
“Our goal is to get back to the national championship and win one. To win the first ever OUA championship.”
To that end, recruiting is “going real well,” he says, with four solid new prospects joining the team.
Lounsbury has recruited two players from Brampton — Matt Barrett, a shortstop, and Dana Derull, a second basemen, who is Barrett’s double play partner.
“They’re going to really help,” Lounsbury said.
The team has also gained BJ Dyck, of Manotick, and Ryan Mitchell, a third basemen from Whitby. They will join returning players Raul Borjas and Jared McCord, who are currently having an excellent season in the Intercounty Major Baseball League. Borjas, a starting outfielder for the Brantford Red Sox currently is third in the league in hitting with a .423 average (11-for-26) with two RBI and two stolen bases.
McCord, playing for the Barrie Baycats, is 12th in the league in hitting with a .346 average (9-for-26). He also leads the team in RBI (6) and stolen bases (2). In his first two games he recorded the first hit for the new franchise as well as the team’s first ever homerun.
The Badgers’ baseball training camp starts Monday, Aug. 27 and goes to Friday, Aug. 31. Check the Press’ back-to-school issue for an in-depth preview of next year’s team.