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When life throws you curve balls

Date

David Polkinghorne

Matt Read, 20, of Tumut meets Cavalry players (l-r) Aaron Sloan, Jonathan Jones, Marcus Knecht and KC Hobson.

Matt Read, 20, of Tumut meets Cavalry players (l-r) Aaron Sloan, Jonathan Jones, Marcus Knecht and KC Hobson. Photo: Graham Tidy

The Canberra Cavalry have had two stark reminders of the frailty of life and just how lucky they are as professional athletes.

Cavalry general manager Thom Carter was personally affected by the tragic Connecticut school shootings, with his six-year-old nephew's friend, Emilie Parker, one of the victims.

And team members took time to visit cancer patients at Canberra Hospital on Wednesday ahead of their four-game series against the Brisbane Bandits at Narrabundah Ballpark on Thursday.

Jack Murphy chats with Robyn Bradley of Banks.

Jack Murphy chats with Robyn Bradley of Banks. Photo: Graham Tidy

Cavs catcher Jack Murphy knows exactly what it is like to lose a loved one after his father Michael died from a heart attack six years ago. But he said almost the entire Cavalry roster was touched by the events in the US, as their thoughts turned home to their friends and family.

The team was in Melbourne on the way to a 3-1 series win against the Aces when the news of the tragedy came through.

''Being away from our families over here, we're kind of disconnected from what goes on, and something like that really brings you back to reality, the things people are capable of doing,'' Murphy said. ''It's tough being away because my mum is a teacher, my youngest sister is still in high school and those type of things - it's a constant source of worry.

''So for us, you try to move on but you have to remember it as well.''

While things were unsettled back home, he said the Cavalry line-up was settled and starting to gel.

Canberra views the Bandits series as an opportunity to cement its spot near the top of the Australian Baseball League before playing eight consecutive games against reigning champion Perth Heat - four in Perth, then four at home.

The crowded Canberra Hospital oncology ward was even busier than usual as the Cavalrymen chatted to the cancer patients.

Damion Price was one of the many who had a smile on their face after the visit. He is just one of 10 people in the world with severe aplastic anaemia with bone marrow failure and his treatment is somewhat experimental.

He went to his first baseball game earlier this year on the opening day of the ABL season between Canberra and the Sydney Blue Sox.

''It's cool [having the Cavalry come], it's good for them to be part of the community,'' he said.

''Especially here, this cancer ward is fantastic.

''The nurses, you have to take your hat off to them, they make the whole experience … without the nurses and their attitude, I'd be screwed.''

The Bandits series sees this week's batter of the week, Canberra short-stop Kody Hightower, up against the pitcher of the week, Bandits starting pitcher Chris Smith.

AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE

Canberra Cavalry v Brisbane Bandits: At Narrabundah Ballpark; Thursday 7pm; Friday 7pm; Saturday 7pm; Sunday 12pm.

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