Damien Nairn

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Aussies having a summer of fastpitch fun

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Blackshaw.Andy.McQuens.41web Australian pitcher Andrew Blackshaw, 23, is spending the summer in the U.S. pitching fastpitch softball. In the 2013 NAFA World Series, he was pitching for McQuen’s Pub of Des Moines. Photo By BOB OTTO

DES MOINES – Five young men sat in the top bleachers watching Winterset, Iowa battle the Rice Lake Orangemen of Wisconsin in a AA / AA-Major pool play game Wednesday night.

I noticed they had a decidedly different accent than your standard Midwesterner.

So curious, I asked, “where you all from?”

Australia came the answer from Shaun Goffer. I learned Goffer is a young man of 23 who plays outfield for the Bloomington (IL) Stix. He and his pals – James Todhunter, 23, Jesse Taws, 20, Aaron Boccardo, 23, Damien Nairn, 23, Andrew Blackshaw, 23, Nathan Dickinson, 19, Adam Pearce, 25, and Marshall Kronk, 19 – are spending an enjoyable time in the states playing a little fastpitch.

“This is good fun and a different atmosphere than back home,” Goffer said.

How so? “You have more fans here.”

True, there was a decent turnout for the opening night of the 2013 NAFA World Series at the Greater Des Moines Softball Complex.

All these Aussies are position players except for Kronk, who was pitching for Winterset (and got the win over Rice Lake in AA / AA-Major pool play), and Blackshaw, who pitched well but took a 3-0 loss for McCuen’s Pub against Willkomm Mobil.

These Aussie international traveling stars had about enough numbers to form their own team for the NAFA World Series, but instead were scattered about playing for various teams. Most of them will also play in the ISC World Tournament in the Quad Cities starting Aug. 10-17.

I had to ask the obvious question: what’s the difference between U.S. fastpitch and the Australian brand called “fastball?” Seems we in the states tend to “coddle” our young a bit.

“There’s a different philosophy here in the U.S.,” said Todhunter. “Here you wait for (young players) to develop. Back home we throw them in the deep end and see if they can go.”