Joey McCourt to join his sister Hailey in Ann Arbor

J. Patrick Eaken

        Cardinal Stritch senior baseball player Joey McCourt says one of the best things about heading to play baseball at Concordia University is that his parents won’t have to drive far to watch him.
        The campus on Geddes Road is 45 minutes away, plus his sister Hailey is a standout player on the volleyball team there.
        It took one trip up U.S. Route 23 for Joey to be convinced this is where he wants to play.
        “It was just a visit, honestly, because I went everywhere else — to Owens, to another school, and it really was where, they say you know your school when you get there, and it really was kind of how it was,” McCourt said. “Walking around with Coach (Zach) Johnston, he’s really an awesome guy and I kind of felt like that was my spot from really the first 10 minutes we were walking with him. It’s nice and home-like.
        Stritch coach Mike McGee is glad to see two of his seniors, McCourt, and Kellen Garmon, move on to play collegiately, although Garmon has not finalized anything yet.
        “McCourt had been our shortstop for a couple years, and he had great hands and I looked forward to him probably being our No. 3 hitter. He’s kind of a quiet kid, and I could tell he was nervous (at his college signing),” McGee said.
        “His head coach came down with one of his co-captains and made him feel real good. He’s actually going from the Cardinal Stritch Cardinals to the Concordia Cardinals and his sister goes there right now, and my son graduated from there — Bobby McGee, he coaches at Clay (under Jim Phillips). I hope he enjoys it up there.”
        McCourt added about the signing ceremony, “It was my team and just who I wanted there — my family, (Concordia) coach brought one of his players down and we sat there, talked to him, put a jersey on and put a hat on. It was pretty cool. My sister (Stritch grad) goes there to play volleyball right now, which is one of the reasons I went there for a visit. She loves it.”
        For McCourt, there is more to Concordia than the drive to Ann Arbor. Its the fact that the Cardinals won an NCCAA World Series championship last year, finishing 39-20. Concordia defeated No. 3 seed Warner University, 6-2, to win the national title.
        “I’m excited to go to Concordia and give them another four (years) and hopefully get them another one of those championships like the one they just won. I hope we have a shot at it next year,” McCourt said.
        McCourt is already communicating with coach Johnston about how to stay active before he arrives on campus, but wishes he had his senior year at Stritch back.
        “It was a little bit of a bummer there. I have no choice (to stay conditioned),” McCourt said. “I went to one of their practices and you realize that the brand of baseball that they are playing in college is a lot different, not to say anything about the high school level.”
        Joey’s sister Hailey is a 5-foot-7 junior setter who was an All-Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference student-athlete. Last fall, she appeared in 21 matches, recording 41 kills, 307 assists (second on team), 148 digs and 63 points. In 2018, she appeared in 22 matches with 13 kills, 270 assists (second on team), 132 digs and 19 points, and in 2017 she appeared in 29 matches with 40 kills, 461 assists (first on team), 158 digs and 68½ points.
        Joey, Hailey and another sister, Alexa, are the children of Joe and Tammi McCourt.
Narrowing his choices
        Garmon likely would have had a breakout senior year at Stritch, says McGee, but playing college baseball still looms in his future.
        “I have a kid named Kellon Garmon, and if I would have told him that for us to win you would have to run through the backstop, he would have done it. He was a good pitcher — led the league in ERA for a while last year, and he was a heck of a catcher,” McGee continued.
        “The problem with the pitcher-catcher combination, let’s say you throw 80 pitches on Tuesday and we had a game on Wednesday, I can’t put you behind the plate because then you have to throw it back to the pitcher 80 times, so I had another position for him, too. He’s a heck of a kid and he’ll do anything for the team.”
        So the problem for both was not playing their senior years and putting out the kind of numbers they would have liked. McGee says that Garmon originally had Findlay and Bluffton universities on his radar, but that has changed to Fransiscan University of Steubenville and Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan.
        He wants to pitch and has a good fastball, curve ball, slider and change-up in his itinerary. No matter what, Garmon says continuing his baseball career is a top priority.
        “It’s hard work. You can pretty much do anything, and you don’t always have to throw hard to be a good pitcher,” Garmon said. “I was looking at Bluffton a little bit. To me it’s pretty important because my dad (Whitmer graduate Brian Garmon) was a really good baseball player and he still plays softball.
        “I was just wanted to be like him. He’s been playing catch with me a little bit and he’s helped me a lot with my pitching because he was a pitcher when he played, but he hasn’t been able to as much since he got his hip replaced, but he’s able to do it every once in a while.”
        While his dad helps him stay conditioned, he finds other ways to keep busy during this coronavirus pandemic.
        “Right now, I’ve just been outside playing basketball and soccer and working out in my basement,” Garmon said.


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