Cole Harbour player among U.S. college baseball's top hitters
Jake Sanford, 21, having stellar year for Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers
When you think of Cole Harbour, N.S., the first thing that likely comes to mind are superstar hockey players Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon.
But now there's another athlete from the community making headlines south of the border, and it's not on the ice.
Jake Sanford, 21, is an outfielder with the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers and he's having a standout year in NCAA Division 1, the top level of college baseball in the U.S.
"My season actually started out kind of slow but I've been practising really hard and trying to figure out my stride at the plate," said Sanford.
Sanford is among the nation's top Division 1 hitters.
In his team's league, he is the leader in eight offensive categories. He is tied for fifth in batting average (.419) in the country, third in home runs with 19, and sixth in runs batted in with 56. Last week, he hit a three-run homer in both the first and second game of a doubleheader.
"It was always a dream of mine to come down to America and play college baseball but I didn't really think it would take off like this."
Sanford played his minor baseball with the Cole Harbour Cardinals and the Dartmouth Arrows.
After graduating from Auburn Drive High School, where he was an all-star volleyball player, Sanford spent two seasons at McCook Community College in Nebraska.
The Hilltoppers were one of several Division 1 schools looking to recruit him and offer up an athletic scholarship.
Now he's ripping it up at WKU in the city of Bowling Green, located an hour north of Nashville, Tenn.
Sanford will soon be faced with a big decision and the opportunity to turn pro.
"I've been in touch with a bunch of pro scouts, so we'll just see what happens there," he said. "That's my end goal is to play pro, but if I don't get drafted in June and sign with a team after this season then I'll play another year of college ball and hopefully get there next year."
Last summer, Sanford played in the Nova Scotia Senior Baseball League with the Dartmouth Moosehead Dry.
Darren Doucette, a former player and coach with the Dartmouth team who now runs the Darren Doucette Baseball Academy, said Sanford has great skills.
"He's what I call a late bloomer and he's playing this well in a really good conference with some tough pitching," said Doucette, who played college baseball in the U.S. in the early 1990s and also played in the minor professional ranks for several seasons.
"He's been hitting everybody and defensively he's been playing really well, and he can run the bases too. He's a complete ball player."
Dartmouth's Vince Horsman was the last Nova Scotia born and raised baseball player to make it to the major leagues. He pitched for Toronto, Oakland and Minnesota from 1991-1995.