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Cubs host Pitch, Hit & Run program at Wrigley

Special to MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Hailing from parts of three different states, 23 youth baseball and softball players competed at Wrigley Field on Sunday morning in the Cubs' team championship round of the Scotts Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run program.

The eight divisional winners from the event will be ranked against the winners from each of the other 29 team championships, and the top three players from each division will be selected for the opportunity to compete in the National Finals, which will be held at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., during MLB All-Star Weekend.

CHICAGO -- Hailing from parts of three different states, 23 youth baseball and softball players competed at Wrigley Field on Sunday morning in the Cubs' team championship round of the Scotts Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run program.

The eight divisional winners from the event will be ranked against the winners from each of the other 29 team championships, and the top three players from each division will be selected for the opportunity to compete in the National Finals, which will be held at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., during MLB All-Star Weekend.

Despite an all-expenses paid trip to the nation's capital at stake, the youngsters recognized the exciting experience they had on Sunday. Not many kids get the chance to play at Wrigley Field before they can legally drive a car.

"It's just a great experience to be able to come out to Wrigley and do this," Jonah Markham, the first-place finisher in the 13- and 14-year-old Baseball division, said. "It's awesome."

Markham, a Holy Cross, Iowa, native, said he lives about three-and-a-half hours away from Wrigley Field, though he said the long drive was certainly worth it on Sunday. He is a Cubs fan, Markham said, so standing on the same field that his favorite players call home was all the more special for him.

Markham, along with the first-place winners from the other divisions, will take the field with the Cubs players before Chicago's game vs. the Giants on Sunday night.

The program is now in its 22nd year and is part of the Play Ball initiative between MLB and USA Baseball. It encourages all types of baseball activity participation from people of all ages, especially kids.

Kristian Bond, the 11- and 12-year-old Softball division winner, came from Fort Wayne, Ind., about three hours east of Wrigley Field. She said before she qualified for the team championship that she never thought she'd play softball in a Major League park.

She didn't take the opportunity for granted.

"It was a hard-working day," Bond said, "but it was fun to be on this field."

Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago Cubs