A Baseball Story: Jaspreet Shergill

(story by Pat Ryan / TheABL.com.au)

BRISBANE, 26th November - Down three games to none entering game four, staring down a series sweep in Adelaide, the Bandits turned to their most consistent pitcher, Sunday starter, Jaspreet Shergill, to get the team back on track. The 183 cm righty, with his patented pre-pitch shoulder shimmy, did what he does best and gave Brisbane five strong innings of one hit baseball last week, not allowing a run. The twenty-three year old recorded his second win of the year in that game and lowered his ERA to a team leading 0.95.

With Jaspreet's skill level, it is no surprise that his talents have given him the opportunity to travel the world, all the way out to Brisbane, from his native Toronto. But Shergill's biggest journey to date, doesn't have much to do with long plane rides and kilometers traveled, but more so to do with a change of positions.

"I didn't pitch until I was seventeen or eighteen," said Shergill. "I had always been a pure hitter."

A pure hitter that now spends most of his week getting his mind and body in the right shape to retire the type of players that he once was. Shergill's pitching journey started in the outfield during a team practice, when his coach saw him throw a ball across the field.

"I've always had a pretty good arm, and one day our coach saw me throw a ball across the outfield and asked me if I pitched," said Shergill. "I said, 'no', and he responded with, 'You do now'."

Shergill and his arm then travelled out of Canada and into the south western United States, where he attended Eastern New Mexico University. He entered school as a first and third baseman, but soon made the transition to the mound.

At the end of his four years of University, Shergill was not ready to give up the game. He spoke with friends and searched the internet, until he found an opportunity in Australia.

"After this past summer, I wanted to keep playing baseball and I knew that Australia was a place that I would have a chance," said Shergill.

Shergill got in touch with a local player from Redcliffe, and found his chance to play at the club level in Brisbane. Although Shergill had found his opportunity to continue his career, he did not want to stop there.

"I wanted to play professionally with the Bandits as soon as I came over here," said Shergill. "So right as I got here I started flooding the Bandits with emails, letting them know if they needed a pitcher, I could help them out."

Unfortunately for Shergill, the emails did not get him on the team. What got him there were his skills on the mound and a bit of being in the right place at the right time.

"I got lucky because I started for Redcliffe against Pine Hills, and Gary Nilsson, the Bandits pitching coach, was at the game and saw me," said Shergill.

After the game, Shergill had the chance to practice with the Bandits and try out for the team. The tryouts proved successful, as Shergill is now one of the strongest starters in the ABL, boasting impressive numbers up to this point. But Shergill doesn't want the numbers to tell the whole story.

"I have never had such a good defensive team," bragged Shergill. "Sure my numbers look good, but I'm not successful without the defence that I have. I don't have to do more that I need to."

And although the Bandits starter may not have to deliver any more pitches than necessary to get out of an inning, 'I don't have to do more than I need to', may seem like a funny phrase coming from a starter who shakes his left shoulder four or five times before he delivers his pitch. A motion that is uncommon to most baseball fans and batters that Shergill faces.

"When I was a senior in University, a really good friend of mine had a strange delivery with a move that he called, 'the chicken wing'. His movement was a little more exaggerated than mine, but it's similar," said Shergill. "I have a problem of sometimes being too tense, so the shimmy helps me relax my shoulder."

The 'Shergill shimmy' may help Jaspreet relax, but it can do quite the opposite for opposing hitters.

"Hitting is so much about the mental side, if I can break that hitter's concentration for even half a second, I can have the advantage," said Shergill. "I know that I would be distracted if someone did that when I was hitting, so I try and use it to my advantage."

Shergill and his shimmy have had great success up to this point as he nears the midway point of the ABL season. And because of his overwhelming success up to this point, it can be easy to forget that this is a player that traveled across the world, leaving behind family and friends, to chase his dream. A dream that isn't possible without the help of a few special people in Shergill's life.

"I owe so much to my host family, the Whitson's," said Shergill. "They let a complete stranger into their home, treat me as if I am one of their own and never ask for anything in return. None of this would be possible without them."

A man who started out as a complete stranger, not only the Whitson's, but to Bandits Nation, has now become a huge part of both families. Shergill looks to continue his success on the mound this weekend against the Melbourne Aces, as he is slated for the start this Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.

Padres in the Bandits

Jaz Shergill was awarded the win against the Adelaide Bite today, the Bandits splitting the first series of the ABL Season 2-2. Padres Canadian import, Jaz, pitched five innings, giving up only two hits and no runs to the side that defeated the Bandits 23-3 on Friday night.

Padres teammate, Sam Holland relieved for the Bandits in the eighth inning in their winning game on Saturday night. He pitched an effective single pitch to complete that inning in the shortest season debut of the weekend! Sam tonight leaves for a camp in Sydney where the Australian 21Under Team will prepare for their quest to win the World Cup to be held in Chinese Taipei from November 7th to 16th. Sam has recently returned from a season in the US with the Eugene Emeralds (affiliate of San Diego Padres) who compete in the North-West League.

Co-incidentally, Padres Tom West umpired in that League this year and he was the plate umpire at today’s ABL game at AFA Stadium at Windsor. …….. Padres boys everywhere!!


 

 

Austin Dux of the Class

Redcliffe Leagues Padres own Austin Whitehead is part of the Australian schoolboys team which has left for a three-week tour in the US. The team is travelling over 3,000km and playing twenty-three games across Oregon, Washington State, California and Arizona. Austin is the fifth Padre player to represent Australia in schoolboys. Other players were Shane Greer, Andrew King, Lucas Bakker and Sam Holland.

Austin is in his final year of Senior at St Paul’s College, Bald Hills. He has an impressive baseball CV, including National U18 and Senior Greater Brisbane AA winners medals. Austin is hoping to obtain a US College Scholarship next year by balancing his sporting talent with academic achievement.

For more updates
about the tour visit www.baseball.com.au or www.schoolsport.edu.au.

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