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Kendall shines at baseball Canada Cup

The Southeast Royals' 2010 Prairie Midget Baseball league campaign might have come to an early end on Aug.
Tyler Kendall, pictured here smacking a base hit for the Southeast Royals earlier in the season, was in Kindersley from Aug. 11-15, competing for Team Saskatchewan in Baseball Canada's Midget Canada Cup.

The Southeast Royals' 2010 Prairie Midget Baseball league campaign might have come to an early end on Aug. 5, but for Tyler Kendall, local shortstop and pitcher extraordinaire, the early exit from the PMBL playoffs didn't mean the end to his baseball year.Kendall was in Kindersley from Aug. 11-15, playing for Team Saskatchewan at Baseball Canada's Canada Cup.Although joined on Team Sask. by fellow Royals Garett Walbaum and Eric Evans, Kendall was the only Estevan product on the team.The remainder of the Saskatchewan lineup was filled by players Kendall and the Royals competed against during the PMBL season.Despite this, Kendall said he felt right at home and had fun playing with - instead of against - some provincial foes."I've played on Team Sask for three years now, and most of those guys have played on the team before too, so I knew pretty much all of the guys and we have a pretty good relationship ... it's fun playing with kids from all around the province," said KendallTeam Saskatchewan came out of the gates red-hot, defeating Team Manitoba 5-3 to open up the tournament.Kendall reached base in all four of his at-bats, hitting two singles and walking twice in the opening game.In their second game, Kendall again walked twice and hit a single, scoring each time he reached base, only to lose a tough 10-8 decision to P.E.I.Kendall continued to reach base at an amazing rate in Saskatchewan's third game, walking twice for the third game in a row, and reaching base on a double, helping the team to an easy 10-1 win over Newfoundland.After three games, Kendall led the tournament in several categories on offence. In 13 plate appearances, the 16-year-old only failed to reach base three times, scoring six runs along the way.Game four against Nova Scotia would be the first game in which Kendall's on-base percentage fell below .600. Kendall went one-for-four, striking out twice, but also scoring once in the 5-2 victory.Suddenly Kendall's - and perhaps, Team Saskatchewan's as a result - success had run its course.Saskatchewan lost all three of its remaining games, 6-2, 9-4 and 8-2 against Alberta, New Brunswick and Quebec respectively.In 11 plate appearances, Kendall only managed to reach base three times in these final three games.Sunday's quarter-final loss to Quebec knocked Saskatchewan out of the tournament.Despite struggling at the plate in the second half of the tournament, Kendall's statistics at the end of the seven games were still impressive.The Estevan native finished in a tie for second most runs scored in the tournament, with eight. Kendall also had the second most hits and posted the second best batting average (.333) and on-base percentage (.500) on his team.For Kendall, who slumped at the plate at times during the PMBL season - like much of the Royals lineup - the break-out performance at the Canada Cup was just a matter of stepping up and focusing on baseball."You have to just up your game a little bit when playing with better ball players," he said. "It's a way higher level, so you just care a little more about it and you get more into it.""Ty's an incredibly intelligent kid and when he puts his mind to something he gets focused in on it. I've worked with him for two years now, and he's come a long, long way," said Royals assistant coach Tom Copeland.Part of Kendall's success also came as a result of his preference for fast pitching, something he saw a lot of at the national level against some of Canada's best young pitchers."Slow pitching can kind of throw you off - it messes with your timing because you're not really used to it," said Kendall. "When you see a hard pitcher, you know it's coming, so you just kind of have to gear up for it.""He was out in front of a lot of pitches this year," said Copeland. "He doesn't seem to handle the slower pitching all that well, so I wasn't overly concerned that when he got to the Canada Cup and the guys are dialing it up to 80-85 mph that he'd be able to handle it."Kendall also showed a penchant for patience at the plate, walking seven times throughout the tournament. This skill was likely developed over the past few years working under Copeland, who has always stressed getting on base and scoring runs by being creative."On-base percentage is something - I don't know if Team Saskatchewan preaches it - but we certainly do at the local level," said Copeland. "Batting average means something obviously, but at the end of the day, we stress on-base percentage and making pitchers go deep and making pitchers work hard. Then, you hope to get timely hits so you can bang some runs in. Tyler's taken that and run with it."For Kendall, baseball season's still not over just yet. It won't be for a while, in fact.Yesterday Kendall set out for Vauxhall, Alberta, where he will play for the Jets at the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball.The Jets spend the fall and winter months practising, working out and traveling south to compete against American junior college teams from as far away as California and Arizona.Vauxhall also houses an indoor baseball facility, where Kendall and the team will be able to train throughout the winter months.Kendall, who is heading into Grade 12, will complete his final year of high school at Vauxhall High School.