Aldie, Va. — When he was 5 years old, Tristan Shah started tossing a baseball with his older brother in their backyard. That game of catch quickly turned into Shah playing organized Little League baseball before he started playing travel ball for the Aldie Senators when he was just 10 years old. It was after his first season with the Senators that he knew he wanted to play baseball at the next level.
“After my first season, I knew I wanted to play college baseball. I have worked extremely hard over the past ten years and have always wanted to be the best player on the field,” the 6-foot Shah said. “From playing as a 10-year-old locally, to playing in some of the best tournaments in the country with the Canes over the past summer, there is no better feeling than winning a ballgame. The feeling of pitching in a big game or being up to the bat with the game on the line is what drives me to be the best player I can be.”
Five years after his first travel ball season, Shah started playing at John Champe High School, where he has excelled as both a pitcher and corner infielder. Now, with just a single season left at John Champe, Shah has his eyes set on his future on the baseball diamond, as he has committed to play at the University of Mary Washington starting in the 2021-2022 school year.
“It feels great to be committed and to finally be done with the stressful recruitment process. I can now focus fully on becoming better as a player,” Shah said. “I have been working towards this goal for the past ten years, so finally being able to accomplish it is something I am very proud of.”
Shah will join a Division III Eagles team that has been in the national rankings nearly 20 times since the program debuted in 1988.
“Mary Washington has an extremely deep history when it comes to baseball and that is something I wanted to be a part of. They have always been a top team in their conference and the country,” Shah said. “Their facilities are unmatched compared to any program in college baseball. I really liked the campus from the moment I stepped on it. Mary Washington also has strong academics which was a big factor in my decision.”
The Eagles — including Tuscarora graduate Cole Gabriele, Potomac Falls graduate Andrew Gerhart, Broad Run graduate Ryan Gorey, and Loudoun Valley graduate Jonathan Sedmak — got off to a slow start in 2019 before the remainder of their season was cancelled due to COVID-19. Under second-year head coach Kelly Swiney, Mary Washington will look to bounce back in 2020 and enter the national rankings for the first time since 2016.
“At Mary Washington, I’ll add someone who is ready to compete and make an impact from the moment I step on campus as a freshman,” said Shah, who will pitch and play corner infield for the Eagles. “I will bring my strong work ethic and hardwork, as well as my leadership skills to every workout, practice, and game.”
That work ethic and leadership is something John Champe will look for in Shah this spring. Prior to their 2020 season being cancelled, the Knights finished 9-12 in 2019, including a 6-8 mark in the Potomac District. After reclassifying to the 6A Cedar Run District in 2020, the Knights will have their hands full with the likes of Battlefield and Patriot.
“Playing for Champe has taught me how to be a leader and has helped me grow, not only as a player, but as a person,” Shah said. “I have really enjoyed being able to represent my school for the past three years and look forward to doing it one final time for my senior year.”
While competing for a district, region, and state title is something all high school athletes strive for, Shah is also looking forward to finishing his high school baseball career with some of his best friends.
“Champe baseball has given me many friendships and has helped me meet many new people,” Shah said. “I’ve been playing with the guys in my senior class since we were all 8 years old, and we’re all like family. Being able to finish our high school careers together has been extremely fun and something I will never forget.”