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Quality Inn - Sudbury
Paul Lefebvre - MP for Sudbury
Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
15U Voyageurs holding their own in new league
by Randy Pascal

There is no denying that making the jump to the Elite Baseball League of Ontario has offered its share of challenges to the Sudbury Baseball Academy U15 Voyageurs. Thankfully, the locals have not found themselves completely overmatched, not by a long shot.

"I thought going down to Toronto and playing against those Toronto teams, I thought would be harder," noted second baseman Dylan Anctil at practice earlier this week. "We've been having good competition with them."

The Voyageurs went 1-3 in a home set the previous weekend, falling twice to the Kitchener Panthers, but splitting a pair of games with the Vaughan Vikings, losing 7-2 before recording a huge 10-2 triumph.

A former member of the Valley East Renegades, Anctil has found himself working hard on all aspects of his game, looking to improve his approach at the plate, and continuing to show signs of progress with an already strong defensive game.

"Offensively, I'm focusing on putting balls in the gap, hitting to the right side, moving runners over, making solid contact, putting the ball in play," outlined the right-handed hitter. "Getting into this program has really helped me with my defence. I'm getting in front of the ground balls, turning double plays faster, showing quicker hands."

The Voyageurs are a first year entry into the league, fielding teams at both the 15U and 18U divisions, with the younger grouping being led by a pair of coaches not all that far removed from their own playing days in the form of Joey Moher and Ethan Jodouin.

"The coaches are nice guys and we can relate to them," said Anctil. "It's cool having coaches that went to college in the States, so that we know what to expect." Like Anctil, teammate Anthony Signorile is not among the "big boppers" on the team, offering opposing pitchers a fairly limited strike zone.

"I'm not one of the biggest players, so I am more of a contact hitter," he said. "I try and get balls on to the field." A versatile player who can line up in the outfield and at first base, and can also take to the mound, Signorile admitted that players in Northern Ontario must find ways to overcome the realities of life in the north in order to compete effectively in this sport.

"Like when it's winter time and we can't go on the field, in March, we went to Florida to get on the field and stuff," he said. "We also have an indoor facility where we can take batting practice, field ground balls and do strength and conditioning."

A soccer players for just a couple of summers, Signorile is similar to many of his teammates, avid baseball fans of the game at a major league level. Unlike many of his teammates, his team of choice is not the Toronto Blue Jays. Rather, he dons number 22 in honour of his favourite player, Clayton Kershaw, the ace of his favourite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

And though he has been inserted to pitch in only a handful of games to date, this left-hander who recently celebrated his 14th birthday just recently, noticed a difference when battling it out with the hitters of the EBL.

"These kids can actually hit the ball a lot harder," said Signorile. "They make a lot of contact compared to the house league players." Both Voyageur teams are on the road this weekend, competing at a tournament in Cincinnati, with another one slated for Pittsburgh before the end of the month.

Rounding out the team roster are Liam Socransky, Braeden Dubé, Caleb Cain Plante, Gavin Roy, Sabrina Folz, Justin Vaillancourt, Yanick Loiselle, Jacob Larivière, Braedon Pakkala, Matt Obradovich, Ben McLaughlin and Josh MacNeil.

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