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Keeping Up With The Cavalry: Kody Hightower
Cavalry's Hightower Currently Taking On International Opponent In The Netherlands
04/21/2012 10:39 AM ET
Hightower prepares for new season in the Netherlands.
Hightower prepares for new season in the Netherlands. (SMP Images / Ben Southall)

Kody Hightower is on the move.

Or to be more precise, he's been on the move for quite some time. It seems that Hightower, the star shortstop for the Canberra Cavalry during the 2011-2012 ABL season, has barely had a chance to unpack his bags since developing a taste for playing international baseball. With stints playing for clubs in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, Australia, and currently in the Netherlands competing in the Dutch Major Leagues, Hightower is simultaneously collecting stamps in his passport and sharpening his baseball skills.

And, in return, the international baseball scene has welcomed the exceptional talent he brings to each club. It is no exaggeration to say that Hightower took the Australian Baseball League by storm last season. Coming to Canberra to play with the Ainslie Gungahlin Bears, he quickly established his place within the Cavalry line-up and as one of the ABL's breakout players. He finished the season third in the ABL in batting average (.361) and on-base percentage (.455). Hightower placed third among his Cavalry teammates in RBIs with a total of 35 and was second in home runs with 6 over the season (including a walk-off against the Sydney Blue Sox).

Of course, all of this jet-setting for the sake of baseball comes with its share of difficulties. Among them, Hightower says that being apart from family and friends for extended periods is probably the hardest obstacle to overcome. "I have a big family and we're all really close," said Hightower. "Sometimes it's tough not having them there to be able to watch me play." Despite the distance and time difference, Hightower's family and friends offered unwavering support through the use of the Cavalry's Webstream sponsored by the University of Canberra. "Even though they were half a world away, I knew they were watching and it really gave me a boost".

Luckily, the friendly Hightower seems to find family wherever he settles. He considers the fans and friends he acquired in Canberra one of the aspects he most enjoyed about playing in the ABL. "I miss the people the most," Hightower commented. "The Vickers and everyone with the club team and the Cavalry - they all made me feel at home." The feelings were clearly mutual as Hightower was named a finalist for the ABL "Fan Choice Award" sponsored by Fielder's Choice.

At this point, Hightower is fairly accustomed to adjusting to living and playing in new settings. A big difference between Australia and the Netherlands, according to Hightower, is the introduction of a language barrier. "The good thing is most of the Dutch speak English as a second language". But Hightower also doesn't have to look terribly far if he's ever eager to swaps stories and experiences from his time in Canberra. With him this season on the Mr. Cocker HCAW roster is Cavalry pitcher Kyle Putnam. Both Hightower and Putnam agree that having a teammate with them in the Netherlands has helped them adapt to their new home. "It's awesome having Putnam as a roommate," said Hightower. "Of course we trade Cavalry experiences and Aussie experiences; that's mostly all we have been talking about. At least until we make Dutch memories."

Whatever might be on the horizon for Hightower, he credits the ABL for preparing him for the next step in his baseball career. "The ABL prepared me simply because it was a really good league and gave me the chance to play with and against affiliated guys," said Hightower. He also noted that it was great to work with Steve Schrenk and Michael Johns "who know the game well and have been to higher levels and the highest level of baseball."

Coming off a banner season with the Cavalry, Hightower has high ambitions for the impact he can make in the Netherlands. Mr. Cocker HCAW finished 6th within the eight-team league last season. Hightower noted that the squad is young and he's hoping to contribute his experience to these developing players. "I would set for us the goal of making playoffs and helping these guys develop a little more in the game," said Hightower. "As for my goal in baseball, I want to keep playing as long as I can." Speaking like a true veteran of the game, Hightower is "just living one pitch at a time."

It's a safe bet that Hightower will continue to chase his baseball dreams to whatever corner of the world the opportunity may arise. Fans of the Canberra Cavalry can only hope that his globe-hopping baseball pursuits include another stopover here in the ACT for the 2012-2013 ABL season.

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.