With district play starting this week, ‘Sader Nation seems to be a certifiable juggernaut of a ball club, as they chase a State Title.
2022-23 Concordia Lutheran BaseballJustin Hartojo (VYPE)
Concordia’s recent history, particularly the distinction of reaching seven TAPPS Final-Four appearances since 2014 including a State Championship (2015), speaks for itself.
Head coach Royce Kennedy has continued that legacy, having coached the team for the last three years.
“Concordia has a great group of young men,” said Kennedy. “They’re very tight-knit which means they have a lot of fun. The team’s competitive spirit has helped us do what we’ve been doing. They win for each other which is pretty exciting to watch.”
Kennedy has been blessed with proficient athletes during his tenure. This year is no different.
Concordia Lutheran's Nolan TraegerJustin Hartojo (VYPE)
It’s no secret who Concordia’s stars are. Anyone on the batting order can go off on any given night, whether it be junior catcher Nolan Traeger (TCU-commit), senior outfielders - Zac Daigre, and Michael Herndon (Baylor-signee) - or freshman IF Ronin McCraw (Texas A&M-commit)
Concordia Lutheran's Michael HerndonJustin Hartojo (VYPE)
The same goes for the Crusaders' bullpen.With a group of aces in senior RHP Alex Petrovic (Auburn-signee), junior RHP Eoghan Collins, who has yet to allow a run through 29 innings pitched, junior RHP/SS John D. Mitchell II (USAFA-commit), and sophomore RHP/1B Connor Jones, just to name a few, it’s no surprise that the Crusaders have been so dominant.
Concordia's Eoghan Collins Justin Hartojo (VYPE)
According to Kennedy, one star, on his loaded roster, who has particularly enjoyed a breakout performance on the plate, throughout the first half of the season, has been sophomore INF/RHP Cole Lanclos.
Concordia's Cole LanclosPhoto provided by @ColeLanclos12
“Since we moved him [Lanclos] up to the leadoff spot in the lineup he’s done an outstanding job,” he said. “He’s been setting up the table for us and getting on base, so we can keep up the scoring threat with our follow-up batters.”
CLHS is coming off a 2021-22 season that saw them earn a TAPPS-D1 District Title, and they will see to it that nothing changes, with district play about to begin.
Concordia's Ronin McCrawJustin Hartojo (VYPE)
However, despite their phenomenal record, Concordia remains adamant about staying focused.
“Every game, our mentality is that we're 0-0," Kennedy said. "We don't talk about what our real record is. We say "we're 0-0, let's be 1-0 at the end of the day'. The kids are constantly thinking that and that's what we're staying with."
Furthermore, last year featured a Concordia team that would advance to the TAPPS State Semifinals. Their ultimate goal of taking home the State Championship was cut short by Central Catholic (4-2).
Concordia's John D. Mitchell IIPhoto taken by Shantae Smith
But, with the momentum this team is gaining, things might just play out differently this time around.
“Being the 'hunted' doesn't phase us, it's just another day to the team," said Kennedy. "We just act like it's no big deal, since last year we had a 15-game win streak and it didn't matter because we didn't win the last game of the year. That's what really matters. We're looking to win that last game."
Concordia Lutheran looks even more dangerous with each passing week. Stay tuned.