Florida Pitch, Hit & Run winners hoping for trip to Cincy
Eight kids in first-place have chance to make National Finals, attend All-Star festivities
MIAMI -- Becka Mellor has done it before, but each first-place finish in the Marlins Pitch, Hit & Run team championship is as sweet as the last for the Nokomis, Fla., native.
On Saturday morning at Marlins Park, Mellor placed first in the 11-12-year-old girls age division -- her fourth Team Championship in five years -- for a chance to advance to the National Finals during MLB All-Star Week in Cincinnati in mid-July.
There were seven other Florida first-place winners, as well, who have a chance to advance to nationals: Sofia Garcia of Miami Springs (7-8 girls), A'Lana Martinez of Cooper City (9-10 girls), Hannah Richardson of Miami Springs (13-14 girls), Rylan Stewart of Fort Myers (7-8 boys), Michael Graziano of Naples (9-10 boys), Matthew Dawson of Punta Gorda (11-12 boys) and Dominic Dingus of Coconut Creek (13-14 boys).
"It feels good," Mellor said. "My hit was really good -- we've been working on that a lot, because I don't have much power. But I hit it past second base, and I'm proud of that."
Mellor and the other seven winners will find out on June 28 if they advance to the national finals. While all 30 MLB teams have champions in each age group, the top three in each division based on final scores in the team championships qualify for competition in Cincinnati.
Should Mellor make the top three in the 11-12 girls division, the PHR National Finals wouldn't be new territory for her. In 2013, she qualified for the 9-10 girls finals at Citi Field -- the home of the New York Mets -- and placed first to earn a national championship.
"It was awesome," Mellor said. "We got to do a bunch of stuff like FanFest and Fan Cave. It was really cool going to New York, because my mom and sister got to see the Empire State Building and we got to catch in the outfield during the Home Run Derby. So it was all really cool."
She added that she has worked hard with her parents in an effort to experience national competition and All-Star Week again.
"In our yard we have a Pitchback [Rebound Net] that we made our own strike zone on," Mellor said. "We work on that a few times a week, and then we like to go out to the field and hit off the tee and just practice. I even just practice rounding third base for the run. I do whatever we can."
Mellor and the rest of the Marlins' PHR first-place finishers will be recognized at Marlins Park prior to Saturday's 4:10 p.m. ET matchup between Miami and Colorado with a pregame ceremony on the field.
"I am so proud of her," said Becka's father, Randy Mellor.