Devan Madore reflects on what clicked for the 16U Voyageurs on their way to a championship
On the July 22th-24th weekend, the 16U PBLO Championship was in full swing in London. In a true underdog story, the Sudbury Voyageurs finished ahead of the rest of the field as they came home with the championship trophy with a 4-0 victory over the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians 15U. Coming in as the 7th seed, the Voyageurs played their hearts out with an undefeated weekend and the first PBLO championship in franchise history.
“My very first reaction to winning the 16U championship was just pure euphoria,” said Devan Madore, starting shortstop for the Voyageurs. Madore, a PBLO Player-to-Watch coming into the season, made the final out as he threw a strike across the diamond to win the final game for the Vees. “I know I’ll never forget the feeling of having my teammates around me cheering, hugging, and pushing each other around.”
In the regular season, the Voyageurs did not have the kind of success they were hoping for coming into the season. Finishing with an 8-13 record, they had a -57 run differential, primarily due to their inability to score as they had the lowest offence in the division. The pitching for the Vees was just below league average, but they stepped up in the playoffs as the main contributor to the team’s success.
The Cinderella weekend began with a 5-3 victory over the top-seeded Oshawa Legionaires, a sign that the stars may be aligned for the Vees. “We have never won a game against Oshawa prior to this game,” Madore said. “Once we won that game, we knew that prior losses couldn’t affect the present and that was our mindset from the start and we stuck with it until the end.”
This win was the first in what would become an unbeaten group stage where they also overcame the 4-seed Ottawa-Nepean Canadians 16U by a score of 2-1, earning a place in the semi-finals versus the host team: the London Badgers.
Fast forward to the bottom of the 7th inning, the Voyageurs were trailing the 3-seed Badgers 3-2 with runners on second and third when Alex Frawley stepped up to the dish. “I knew that he was the guy to do it, to walk it off,” Madore said from his view standing on third base. “And sure enough a hard hit ball into left field scored me and another to walk it off. Right then, when the second run came in to score securing the victory, each one of us ran toward Frawley in excitement and we just dogpiled on him. It was such an awesome moment for all of us knowing we were moving on to the finals.”
All of the momentum was going the Voyageurs’ way as they managed to secure a spot in the finals to face the 15U Ottawa-Nepean Canadians, another team that played extremely well despite a regular season that lacked consistent success.
The great pitching from the weekend continued in the finals, where Liam Norman came up clutch with a shutout performance on the biggest stage. “Norman really stepped up for us, allowing no runs, he pitched an amazing game. He controlled the game all day long, staying composed on the mound and being the dude he is, he led our team to a victory,” Madore explained.
It was fitting that the final ground ball would be hit to Madore who had been clean defensively all weekend long. Calmly fielding the grounder and humming it over to first base was the moment it all became a reality that the Voyageurs had done the unthinkable. Madore and the Vees perfectly acted upon the winning motto that kept them in the current moment and focused on playing to their potential.
The 16U Sudbury Voyageurs played their best when it mattered, coming up with clutch pitching performances and walk-offs that showcased the hidden depth of their ball club. “As a program, we can be prideful knowing that we showed everyone who Sudbury is and we are a force to be reckoned with,” Madore said. “We are happy with the win, but never satisfied. That being said we are looking forward to many more PBLO championship wins as a program.”
Devan Madore with the 16U PBLO Championship Trophy