Baseball team from Down Under to play at Ripken this summer

dbryant@thesunnews.comApril 3, 2013 

The Grand Strand is used to seeing visitors from North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania.

But Australia?

The area isn’t expecting an Aussie wave by any means, but a youth team from Down Under will be making the 30-hour trek to Myrtle Beach this summer for a baseball tournament at The Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach. It’s the farthest a team has ever traveled to play at the complex off U.S. 17 Bypass near 10th Avenue North.

The Victoria Kangaroos from Melbourne, Australia, an age 14 and under team, will compete at Ripken June 9-14. It’s the group’s second visit; it competed here last summer.

“The time traveling to the USA is certainly one you don’t look forward to [30-plus hours] but is quickly forgotten once our feet hit the ground,” Stephen Black, the Kangaroos’ head coach, said in a news release. “The one thing that would complete this tour for our players would be the opportunity to experience the American home life.”

Seven families along the Grand Strand will open their homes to the 13 players during the week of competition and show them around town. Using host families is common at The Ripken Experience in Aberdeen, Md., but this is the first time the Myrtle Beach operation asked for host families. In this case, it helps the team cut down on travel costs.

“We kind of threw a Hail Mary and a lot of people stepped up,” said Bobby Holland, general manager of The Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach. “This group is an absolute delight to have not only at our baseball complex but also something special to host in Myrtle Beach.”

Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or at dbryant@thesunnews.com or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_dawnbryant.

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