Seventeen-year-old local David Sheaffer, who will play at North Surry in the spring, recently returned from Australia after competing with the International Astros baseball team in the International Baseball Goodwill Series and called it an unforgettable experience.
Sheaffer was one of 18 elite recruits of high school kids chosen from the USA and Mexico to compete in the 18th annual Australian baseball tour. Sheaffer and teammates played against Australian youth, in both the cities of Adelaide and Perth; and stayed with host families in both cities, he said.
He called the competition tough but said the experience was exceptional because of the level of baseball played.
Sheaffer said some that he played against in the Australian tour already had signed with professional teams. In Australia, one can play professional baseball at age 16, he said.
Sheaffer left from Mount Airy on Dec. 21, and played his first baseball game in Adelaide, Australia, on Dec. 22. He said he and teammates spent one week there and played against the South Australian Bites.
Sheaffer said the host family in Adelaide was the Snellgrove family, Mark and Glenyf. He said he also stayed with their son James in his room, who is the Bites’ pitcher. Sheaffer called the Goodwill Series a relationship building event as much as a competitive one. He said his competitor, James, quickly became his friend.
“It was a neat experience. We got to experience Christmas there. We had a gift exchange and gave equipment from our high schools, and they gave us some of their Bite stuff.”
Sheaffer called the one week in Adelaide a really friendly competition and said their team was really good.
Shaeffer said the Astros did win more games than the Bites.
On the eighth day of the International Goodwill Series, Sheaffer said he and teammates traveled to Perth, which is on the western coast of Australia and about a three-hour plane ride.
Sheaffer said in Perth, he stayed with the Morris family, Scott and Kylie. He said he connected with their son, Jay Jay Morris, who was 17. Morris played center-fielder for the Team Western Australian Heat, and he got to hang out with him, he said.
Overall, he said the experience in Perth was similar to Adelaide.
“The Morris family was very hospitable and good to us.”
Sheaffer said of some of his accomplishments on the trip, “I caught and played outfield and started every game and hit fourth in the line-up. I considered it to be a big honor with the kind of kids that are on the team.”
Sheaffer said everyone can try out for state team in Australia if they are 18 years of age or younger and get to play against each state team. He said the Astros split games with the Western Australian Heat and called the experience more competitive than in Adelaide, but still friendly.
“We did have a beach day in both places and got to enjoy them. The people were intrigued by our accents,” Sheaffer said. He also called the Australian beaches beautiful.
“Not many kids get to play at that level, the quality of baseball that was there was very good,” he said.
His best baseball moment in Australia was getting a hit in every single game except one, he said.
“I got a base hit in 11 out of 12 games. I played really well. It is the first time that I have been on the field playing a baseball game since August. All the training in the off season is paying off.”