Raise curtain: Siddall, Griffs look to repeat

* Brett Siddall (Windsor, Ont.) heads into his junior season with coach Mike McRae (Niagara Falls, Ont.), whose Canisius College Griffs open the 2015 season against the Maryland Terps in the Caravelle Resort tournament at Conway, SC. ....  

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By Alexis Brudnicki

BUFFALO, NY – Brett Siddall keeps getting better with every opportunity he’s afforded.

Leaving Holy Names Catholic High School three years ago, the young native of Windsor, Ont., was a star on a squad that won back-to-back provincial championships in his final two seasons. At the same time, he played for the Canadian Junior National Team and impressed on the world stage for Baseball Canada.

Siddall then headed to Canisius College, where between his freshman and sophomore seasons he has posted a slash line of .324/.406/.459 with four home runs, five triples, 18 doubles, 46 runs scored and 71 runs driven in over 91 games. The 20-year-old has already racked up numerous accolades for the Golden Griffins in his first two years.

To top it all off, the left-handed hitting outfielder and first baseman made his way to the Northwoods League collegiate summer circuit last year, where he bettered his list of accomplishments with the Lakeshore Chinooks. There, Siddall was an all-star, the home run derby champion, and he won a league title with his team.

“The summer season was awesome,” he said “At the beginning, I started off a little bit slow. It was tough getting to know guys and getting to know the league and everything, but I loved playing every day and taking batting practice and it was good to get into that routine every day and with the travelling and stuff, it was just fun.

“Once I got into a routine I started to play a little bit better and I ended up having a good year. It was fun … and definitely something I want to do again; that’s why I signed with them again for this summer. It was just great. We had a great team, I had great host parents and everything and they made my stay there go really well. I felt welcome there and the team was really awesome, so I really enjoyed it.”

Siddall’s “good year” included a .313 average, nine home runs, 13 doubles, and 43 RBIs in just 59 Chinooks games. His summer was highlighted by his all-star appearance, and proving he could compete among the players from bigger colleges.

“With all of the talent involved in that and the guys from bigger schools, that was definitely a privilege to play with and against them,” he said. “Then winning the championship at the end of the summer was pretty cool too. We had some close games there so it was thrilling.

“Just being able to meet some guys down there and spend the summer with them, and being able to do well and have fun was a great time.”

Heading into his junior season with the Griffs, Siddall’s return to Wisconsin is dependent upon what happens during the selection process in June. Undrafted out of high school, the 6-foot-2, 203-pound hitter has drawn increased interest over the last couple of years.

“If I do happen to get drafted and sign right away with a team, then basically I don’t even go down there,” Siddall said. “Depending on how our season goes here [at Canisius] I might go down there for a week or so before the draft, but I would like to be home for the draft. I want to be with my family…it’s going to be an exciting season.”

With one Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship under his belt, winning with the Griffs in his first season in Buffalo, the junior has his sights set on another title. While that is priority No. 1, he knows his second chance at the draft is approaching.

“Obviously [the draft] is in the back of my head,” Siddall said. “But we have a goal to win a championship here first, and then the draft is going to come after that. Once we’re done playing here I can focus on that for a week or so and then hopefully something comes out of it.

“I feel like I can put myself in a good position this season by playing well and helping my team out, so we’ll see what happens when that time comes.”

When the time does come, Siddall will head home to be with his family, his father, Joe Siddall, taking a few days away from his job as a Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster so that they can spend the time together. A former major-league catcher with the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins and Detroit Tigers, Joe has been a great resource for Brett throughout the entirety of his young baseball career, and this year is no different.

“My dad has given me a little bit of advice for the draft,” Siddall said. “He gives me inspiration every year, but he’s always there in terms of the entire process and helping me out and supporting what I want to do.

“He basically said, ‘You just have to go out there and play the way you can play. Don’t let it bother you and don’t put any extra pressure on yourself.’ He’s good at letting me do my own thing and when the time comes, we’ll be together and see what happens with it, and make a decision if we have to do so.”

With Canisius beginning its regular-season schedule on Saturday, Siddall’s current focus is one-dimensional. After a heartbreaking end to last year, losing the final two games of the season and allowing Siena to secure the MAAC title and a berth in the Field of 64 on the road to Omaha, he and the rest of the squad are hoping to turn it around this season.

“We definitely were obviously right there last year, until the last two games of the season,” Siddall said. “But we’re coming back prepared this year. We want to win and we’re going to do anything it takes to get there. We have a pretty tough schedule around here and that will prepare us well to go into conference play at the end of the year and then hopefully we can secure a championship win.”