* Freshman OF Cyrus Senior (Montreal, Que.) joined Iannick Remillard (Valleyfield, Que.) with the Canisius Golden Griffs. The Griffs are on their spring trip to South Carolina, beating the Old Dominion Monarchs and losing to the Maryland Terps and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. ….
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By Alexis Brudnicki
Canadian Baseball Network
BUFFALO, NY – Though it didn’t take long for Cyrus Senior to get acclimated to his surroundings at Canisius College, being in a Division-I baseball environment for the first time made him feel a lot further from home than just the six-hour drive from Montreal to Buffalo.
“My experience here has been very good so far,” the 19-year-old said. “It’s a lot different than Canada because everyone is a lot bigger, a lot stronger, and a lot faster. But coach [Mike] McRae told me that you’ve got to expect that, and things are not like how it is in Canada.
“But they brought me in with open arms here and everyone was good to me right from the start. I blended in really quickly.”
McRae, a dual citizen hailing from Niagara Falls, Ont., saw Senior for the first time a few years ago. The young outfielder kept in touch with the Golden Griffins’ head coach, and took his opportunity with the squad after finishing up his secondary school education at John Abbott College.
“When I was playing in Montreal, one of the coaches told me to come down to showcases when I was 15 and 16 years old,” Senior said. “I gained a bit of interest but nothing crazy because I was still young.
“Then we had an exhibition game against [Canisius] when they won the [Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship]. It was a like a celebration game. Even though they killed us, it was a fun game and coach McRae liked what I did. I emailed him to get in touch with him and after talking back and forth, it was a happy ending. Everything just fell into place.”
When Senior came to visit the campus in Buffalo, he even got a personal welcome from Iannick Remillard, a junior on the Griffs squad and the only other player currently on the roster hailing from Quebec.
“I played against [Remillard] when I was younger,” Senior said. “I was on the older team and he was one of the older guys. I heard he was at Canisius when he was in his first year and then kind of [forgot about] it, but when I was coming here he emailed me and said, ‘You’re coming to my school now.’ When I came to visit he showed me around … and gave me a heads up on everything.”
Though Senior and Remillard are the only two players from La Belle Province, they are joined by 10 other Canucks on the most Canadian roster in all of Division-I baseball. With the young outfielder in the freshman class are J.P. Stevenson (New Glasgow, PEI) and Blake Weston (Oakville, Ont.).
Jake Lumley (Windsor, Ont.), Zachary Sloan (Brampton, Ont.) and Josh Shepley (Windsor, Ont.) make up the Canadian sophomore class, while Brett Siddall (Windsor, Ont.) joins Remillard as the only juniors from north of the border on the team.
Canisius has four Canuck seniors on the squad, taking Connor Panas (Etobicoke, Ont.), Mike Krische (Langley, BC), Devon Stewart (Maple Ridge, BC) and Tyler Vavra (Calgary, Alta.) into their final seasons.
“You can tell the seniors are here to win,” Senior said of the Griffs’ young team. “The seniors, and the juniors, and even the sophomores. Once you get on the field and into the gym it’s really serious.
“I really like that about it because back in Quebec it was serious, but it wasn’t like this. You can feel the atmosphere here. Everyone wants to get it done so we can get better to win, and that’s the goal. That’s what I like.”
With his first season just underway, Senior is already learning a lot and realizing just how different the game is at the collegiate level from what he had experienced previously.
“The one main thing I’ve learned is actually going up to bat with an approach,” he said. “Back in Montreal, I used to go up to the plate and just swing and hit. Then in the first week, coach McRae was explaining how to approach it, with the numbers and stats and being ready. Everything he said makes sense and it seems to be showing.”
Senior is hoping to make an impression in his freshman year, and is prepared to work hard to do so. He is also hoping to help his senior teammates leave Canisius on a high note, looking for the second conference title for the Griffins in three years.
“I have a couple goals for this team,” Senior said. “I really want to work my way [up the] lineup. I usually hit leadoff and that’s where I like to start, and I know there are a lot of guys who are seniors who are good, so it will be hard to get there but I feel like it’s possible if I put the work in. If not this year, maybe next year. That’s my main goal.
“And as a team I want to win a MAAC championship. I’ve seen the celebrations and I’ve thought, ‘Wow that could be me,’ so that’s what I’m excited for.”