It's pretty cool to be Griff O'Ferrall '21 these days.
The University of Virginia shortstop made the USA Collegiate National Team roster, one of 31 players named to the team, and the first StC graduate to ever achieve the honor.
"Being able to play with the best players in the country has been awesome to witness," O'Ferrall said. "Being around guys that are this talented is a treat and one that I am not taking for granted."
O'Ferrall is certainly seizing the opportunity, as he wasn't satisfied just making the team. He leads off and starts at shortstop, just like he has since he arrived in Charlottesville.
Through seven games versus Chinese Taipei and Japan, he's hitting a silly .552 (16-29) with four walks, sporting an on-base percentage of .606. He's also swiped three bases in as many attempts, and has been great in the field with 17 assists and no errors. O'Ferrall was named the Most Outstanding Hitter of the five-game Taipei series.
Couple this USA experience with two years of lights-out baseball at UVA, leading the Cavs to an NCAA World Series appearance in 2023, and it's been a storybook beginning.
"If anyone says that they expected Griff to be a starter at shortstop and at leadoff from day one at UVA, they are lying," said Tony Szymendera, StC's longtime baseball boss and Griff's coach from 2018-21. "He was an amazing high school player. But we're still talking about going to a D-1, ACC, nationally competitive program at UVA. The expectation was: work hard, learn everything you can, and take advantage of your opportunities when they come - probably down the road at some point."
Down the road ended up being February 18, 2022, as O'Ferrall trotted out as only the fourth freshman starter at shortstop at UVA in 20 years. He's started every game since. 123 up, 123 down. Durable. Consistent.
He hit .308 as a freshman, and was named a freshman All-American. He raised his average to .396 as a sophomore, leading the Wahoos in hits (108) and runs (76), and to a 50-15 team record. On June 16 he was named a third-team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
"I really didn't know what to expect going from high school to college ball," the 6-1, 185-pounder said. "I just went into it trying to work as hard as I could and enjoy the sport that I've always loved. It has ended up giving me great opportunities like this one and I'm super grateful for them."
Fans have three more opportunities to catch O'Ferrall and Team USA in action as they take on Japan July 9 at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, North Carolina at 5 p.m. (ET). USA finishes the series July 11 and 12 in Charleston, South Carolina at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park. Both games are set to begin at 6:30 p.m.
"Griff making the Collegiate Team USA should frankly be the proudest of moments for St. Christopher’s, UVA, and all of Virginia," Szymendera said. "To represent your country and to wear USA across your chest in competition is the dream of so many, many little ones. And knowing the type of person Griff is–humble, hard working, empathetic, friendly, fun, and more–makes it all the better."
Said O'Ferrall: "Getting to represent that USA across our chest is special because we know how many people have sacrificed their lives for this country. Specifically having a brother [Sam, '13] and sister-in-law serving currently, it means even more to me."
Visit USABaseball.com for ticket and live stream information.