By Will Conerly
Competitive sports will constantly test the physical limits of a player’s mind and body, just ask QU pitcher Nick Stroud.
Last weekend, the senior right-hander from Dalton City, Illinois, authored a complete game shutout earning his sixth win of the season. Even more impressive, he allowed just four hits and established a new Quincy University record with 18 strikeouts.
Stroud’s record-setting performance was also the 7th time the Hawks have shut out their opponents this season.
Stroud, who is older than QU Pitching Coach, Matt Schissel, has become a leader for the Hawks.
“To see a guy that had gone through so much to get back on the mound, and do that, it was special,” Assistant SID Brendan Saak said.
Seven years ago Stroud stepped onto the QU campus and now is in his final year and about to complete his Masters of Business Administration degree.
Why has it taken so long? Stroud has undergone the knife twice, both times for Tommy John surgeries to repair his pitching arm. That resulted in missing two full seasons and required Stroud to be classified as a medical redshirt.
Stroud, a high-profile recruit, pitched 22 plus innings as a true freshman.
Stroud’s final appearance in his first season came on April 30th, 2013.
Three years, nine months, and 18 days later Stroud returned to competition.
“It was so hard seeing all the guys I spent time with off the field play while I had to sit due to injury,” Stroud said.
In Stroud’s first year back (2017) which was technically his sophomore year – he pitched 13 and two-thirds innings.
“I learned a lot that year,” Stroud said. “I had to learn how to pitch again because I had so much time off.”
Stroud’s first year back gave him confidence that he could do it, that he belonged.
The 45-month hiatus from game competition seemed now just to be a bump in the road for the heavily recruited right-hander.
“That time off was definitely worth it now looking back at it,” Stroud said.
However, through seven years, Stroud has stayed committed to Quincy.
In 2018, Stroud was ready to go.
He appeared and started in 14 games on the mound for the Hawks. He was a GLVC First Team All-Conference Selection, and an ABCA Second Team All-Region Selection.
He was starting to become the guy everyone expected him to be.
He finished with a 6-4 record with a 4.24 era in 57.1 innings pitched and led the team with 82 strikeouts which ranked 5th all-time in school history.
This season, Stroud’s heights have reached a new definition of excellence.
Stroud already has 77 strikeouts, which ranks third in the conference.
Stroud could potentially have five more starts on the mound depending on how the Hawks fare in postseason play.
With 17 more strikeouts Stroud would rank second all-time in the single-season mark for strikeouts.
The most in a single season is 126 from Brandon DeJaynes in 2006 who was the national pitcher of the year. Stroud’s recent record-breaking 18-strikeout performance matched his strikeout total from his previous three starts combined.
“Most guys who have been around Stroud always had the feeling that this kind of performance was in him too,” Saak said.
This effort earned him GLVC pitcher of the week honors and proved to be one of the most dominant pitching performances in school history.
“It was a masterful performance,” Saak said.
Stroud has a 2.82 ERA which is fifth in the GLVC and has a record of 6-2 for the nationally ranked Quincy Hawks.
“The mentality has never changed, it has always been to go out there and dominate,” Stroud said.