Little Leaguer selected for USA Baseball tryouts

November 22, 2011

By Christina Lords

Hiro Fujiwara is only one of three Washingtonians chosen for the event

Hiro Fujiwara (right), makes a play in a game this summer on the Issaquah Little League All-Stars. Contributed

If a baseball game is on, Hiro Fujiwara is watching it.

While he grew up watching the Seattle Mariners, he said his favorite team right now is the Boston Red Sox.

Someday, he hopes to be the one people watch — a goal not so far-fetched if he can continue to work hard, said Tom Chan, Issaquah Little League president.

“Hiro has a lot of range and a strong arm,” Chan said. “He’s one of the top pitchers for sure in Little League at the All-Star level.”

In September, the 13-year-old Pacific Cascade Middle School student joined 756 other players from across the country to participate in the 2011 USA Baseball National Team Identification Series. The series consists of players from three age groups that ultimately serve as an opportunity to be on one of USA Baseball’s national teams.

USA Baseball is the national governing body of amateur baseball in the United States and is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The organization selects and trains the World Baseball Classic Team and World Cup Team, national teams and the USA Baseball Women’s National Team, all of which participate in various international competitions each year.

After scouts came to watch Fujiwara in action locally, he was only one of three players from Washington to be chosen for the event.

As part of the Northwest region team, Fujiwara competed against 12 other regions from across the country in the NTIS at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.

“I don’t think I played my best,” he said. “But there was a lot of good players that I could learn from.”

From the NTIS, USA Baseball invited a minimum of 32 players to future 14U, 16U and 18U National Team Trials opportunities with the ultimate goal of being selected to represent the country as part of Team USA.

While Fujiwara wasn’t selected this time around, he said it only motivates him to hone his skills and do better next year. His favorite positions, shortstop and pitcher, accentuate his speed and agility, Fujiwara said.

“He’s faster than lightning,” Chan said. “If you blink an eye, he’s already from first base to second base.”

Fujiwara said he started playing baseball in pickup games during recess when he was in first grade.

In second grade, he played on his first organized baseball team through the Issaquah Little League program, working his way into the Issaquah Little League All-Star program.

After six years in Issaquah Little League, he will play for the O’Brien 13U Koufax baseball team this coming season.

Fujiwara said his ultimate goal is to continue to play on select teams and eventually play professional baseball — a goal he’s had in mind since third grade.

“He wants to be a role model as well as for Little League,” Chan said. “He’s always helping the younger kids with form or mechanics or their attitude toward the game.”

Christina Lords: 392-6434, ext. 239 or newcastle@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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