A first-rate effort at a baseball tryout last week in Phoenix has earned 18-year-old Dustin Hacker an invitation to join the Coast-to-Coast Amateur Baseball Stars team.
With a berth on the celestial squad, Hacker would travel July 5 to 18 to Australia where the Coast-to-Coast team is participating in an international tournament.
Hacker, who pitched, pinch hit and played several different positions for the Longhorn baseball team last season, says he's looking forward to the opportunity to play Down Under.
"It will be competitive, fun and it's something I'd really like to do," he said.
If the Payson High School senior can earn the about $4,000 he'll need to pay the expenses of traveling to Australia, he'll join his teammates July 5 at Los Angeles International Airport for the flight to Australia.
Following the overnight flight, the team will arrive in Adelaide.
According to Coast-to-Coast Baseball Program Director Chip Stahl, the team will participate in morning and afternoon training session under the watchful eyes of some of the top baseball instructors from around the country.
Chris Schwochow of Fremont, Ohio --ne of the players who has made the trip to Australia -- praised the staff.
"The coaches really care about the kids and their best interests," he said.
After participating in the opening ceremonies of the Adelaide Friendship Series, the Coast-to-Coast stars will play Series double-headers against Australian teams in a round-robin format.
One of the team's most competitive foes is expected to be the South Australia Sports Institute team.
According to Stahl, the team is made up of top ball players from around South Australia, many of whom could go on to compete for position of the Aussie Olympic team.
In addition to the thrill of competing internationally, Hacker says he is looking forward to the cultural rewards of the jaunt.
Among the team's scheduled visits are to the renowned East End Markets in the heart of Adelaide, the Glenelg beach section, the Cleland Wildlife Preserve and to the Victor Harbour seaside resort community.
"I'll get the baseball experience of a lifetime," Hacker said.
At Payson High School last season, Hacker earned Grand Canyon All-Region honorable mention after posting a .458 batting average that included five doubles. Known for his speed, Hacker says he recorded the fastest 60-yard dash time at the Coast to Coast tryouts.
Before moving to Payson more than a year ago, the 5-foot-10-inch, 160-pounder was a Colorado State USSSA middle school/junior high baseball champion.
In addition to excelling in baseball, Hacker is an honor roll student with a 3.5 GPA.
As good as he is in baseball and the classroom, he's best known as the vocal, enthusiastic Longhorn mascot that adds school spirit to football and basketball games. Even when he's not wearing his Longhorn mascot gear, Hacker has built a reputation as one of the sports teams most vociferous supporters.
"I like being the loudest fan," he said.
Anyone who would like to sponsor Hacker in his efforts to earn the money to travel to Australia can call him at (928) 468-8805.