Callum Donnelly spends most Sundays pitching to the Illawarra’s best batters, but for a week in August, he had the opportunity to take on some of the world’s best 12-year-olds.
Donnelly was a member of the Australian team that competed at the Cal Ripken World Series in Branson Missouri.
Ultimately the world’s best proved too strong for the Australian team, with Japan taking out the tournament. Australia finished with one victory, over Kansas. However, Donnelly’s mother Jude said the team performed admirably in every game they played.
“Australia can’t compete with countries like Japan or Mexico and Japan ended up winning the tournament,” Jude said. “But overall, Callum performed really well. His best game was against Kansas, where he batted and pitched well.”
Donnelly plays his junior baseball for the Bulli Pirates and was selected for the team after his exceptional performances representing Illawarra at the NSW Championships.
For Callum, the trip was about much more than the results on the field. He had the opportunity to meet baseball players from a variety of different countries, to encounter different playing styles and to meet new players from Australia. However, the pitcher within comes out when he discusses his favourite part of the trip.
“Striking people out was the best part.” Callum said.
Jude agrees that the team was able to grow from the experiences off the field and the interactions with the other teams.
“Callum had a great time over there,” Jude said. “All the people were great, the atmosphere was great. They stayed with all the teams and were able to mingle and meet with players.
“They swapped something with every team they played against. He came back with medallions and towels. We sent over koala keyrings with him to give kids from the other countries. They also swapped jerseys and hats.
“I’m very proud of him. He represented Australia, I can’t ask for anything higher than that. To represent Australia at 12 is a big deal.”