ST. PETERSBURG -- Brooke Mucerino is a veteran of the Scotts Pitch, Hit & Run competitions at Tropicana Field at this point. Competing a fourth time Sunday morning and following a win at this stage last year, she entered with a loftier goal in mind this time: to win the
ST. PETERSBURG -- Brooke Mucerino is a veteran of the Scotts Pitch, Hit & Run competitions at Tropicana Field at this point. Competing a fourth time Sunday morning and following a win at this stage last year, she entered with a loftier goal in mind this time: to win the national competition.
In the first year she tried her hand at the competition, Mucerino broke a record for 10-year-olds by blasting a ball 186 feet off the tee. Though she's familiar with hitting softballs a long way, she took a moment to appreciate her first swing of the day, which produced one of the farthest hits of the afternoon by any of the 24 participants. Upon seeing it land, she turned to her parents with a smile wide with surprise before refocusing to take her remaining two swings.
"I wasn't surprised to hit it that far, but I just wanted to beat my score from last year," Mucerino said. "I'm determined to make it to nationals either this year or next year."
Each of the 30 Major League stadiums hosts a Scotts Pitch, Hit & Run competition, with the top three scorers of each division and age group across the country advancing to the National Finals during MLB All-Star Week. Mucerino won her division in last year's competition at Tropicana Field, but fell just short of the top three scores in the country.
"I think she missed it by this much," her mother, Sharon Mucerino, said, pinching two fingers close together. "Maybe by a pitch at the most."
Brooke landed four strikes on six pitches Sunday. A pitcher and first baseman while playing softball the rest of the year, Brooke said she feels she improved on her performance from last year.
Mucerino won the 13/14 softball division Saturday, but her parents aren't putting too much pressure on her to make the national round this year.
"We just tell her to do her best," Sharon said. "She usually has a pretty good attitude whether she wins or loses."
Besides, she still has one final year of eligibility left in the competition.
Mucerino and the seven other division winners were recognized on-field before the Rays' series finale against the Athletics on Sunday as part of the Play Ball initiative, which included the Rays welcoming the Tampa RBI Little League.
Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.