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Liam Socransky flourishes as a pitcher, commits to L.U.

Some baseball players are natural pitchers, demonstrating an uncanny ease of motion as they toe the rubber, even in the earliest of times.

Others are the result of a more gradual process, making various other pit-stops around the diamond prior to finding their calling on the mound.

Eventually, they hope, things all come together.

It is this latter variety that the Laurentian Voyageurs baseball team introduced on Friday, as former outfielder turned hurler Liam Socransky confirmed his intentions to remain in Sudbury, pursuing a path as a student-athlete in his hometown.

"Last year, he (Socransky) flourished as a pitcher," noted Baseball Academy head honcho, Jean-Gilles Larocque. "He and Josh MacNeil (another L.U. signee) really helped our staff last year, logged tons of innings."

"His velocity jumped up like crazy, but it's his compete level and work ethic that has kind of been the thing."

Socransky, however, suggested the flurry of factors that prompted a more meaningful emergence within the pitching staff of the Sudbury 18U Voyageurs was even wider still.

"The hardest thing for me was definitely limiting distractions," said Socransky, a 17 year-old soon-to-be graduate of Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School. "I've always had a pretty short attention span, distracted very easily - things get to me."

"Slowly, over the years, I've been able to focus much better on what I need to do. Another main thing was definitely trust, knowing my teammates really had my back. Last year, I got a new position as a starter, a new pitching coach (Greg Johnson)."

"It was really a mix of all of those different things that helped me out a ton."

And when it came to choosing Laurentian, there was another mix, this time of social, academic and athletic features in play. "There were a few reasons," said Socransky. "By staying home, I still get to see my family every day, still get to see the friends that I hang out with every day."

"Also, with my program of Bio-Med, I'm not too sure about what I want to get into later, so this will help keep my options open. It can lead to a whole bunch of different things."

Certainly, a big part of the evolution of Socransky and his Sudbury Voyageur teammates lies with the scope of opposition to which the local lads are exposed, a combination of league play within the Elite Baseball League of Ontario, intermixed with tournament action south of the border.

Interestingly enough, Socransky suggested that it's not a given that the real push for the Voyageurs came in the country where baseball remains the proclaimed national pastime. "I loved going down to West Virginia and Pittsburgh, but I actually felt like the competition may have been even stronger when we were up in the Toronto area," he said.

"You would expect it to be better down there (in the USA), but they (EBLO teams) competed with us more."

Larocque offered a slightly different perspective.

"If he (Socransky) looks back to the years before last year, the shoe was on the other foot," said Larocque. "We were taking the beatings (at tournaments in the States). The program kind of progressed through it, the game became easier. I don't know that they (the players) have seen exactly where they have come from, just how good they have gotten."

What Socransky absolutely sees is a future for Sudbury baseball that is bright, loaded with reasons for optimism. "All of the kids that I am seeing coming in, those kids that are five years younger than me, they are so much better than I was," he said.

"They're throwing and hitting speeds that I could not have even come close to at their age."

Then again, perhaps some are simply a little more natural in taking to the sport than Liam Socransky, who had to work and battle his way to post-secondary recruitment.

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