ST. PETERSBURG -- It was an exciting and nerve-racking Sunday morning for 24 kids from around Florida at Tropicana Field. Ultimately, for the eight winners in the Scotts Pitch, Hit and Run competition, it was the thrill of a lifetime.The kids worked their way through local and sectional events to
ST. PETERSBURG -- It was an exciting and nerve-racking Sunday morning for 24 kids from around Florida at Tropicana Field. Ultimately, for the eight winners in the Scotts Pitch, Hit and Run competition, it was the thrill of a lifetime.
The kids worked their way through local and sectional events to qualify for the team championships, hosted by the Rays.
Sunday's winners are eligible for the national finals during the All-Star Game festivities July 15-17 in Washington D.C.
"This is my fifth year of doing this and I missed being in the nationals last year by one pitch,'' said Brooke Mucerino, winner of the 13-14 year-old softball division. "My big dream is to play softball for the (University of Florida) Gators. I hope this will help me be noticed by schools. Plus, it's just a lot of fun.''
That's the idea.
"We love the kids getting out there, staying active, competing and being able to have this experience at a Major League venue,'' said Dan Bonilla, sales manager for Scotts locations in Central and West Florida. "It's a cool thing to be a part of.''
That's how the kids felt, too.
"I was nervous, and didn't think I was going to win,'' said Madelyn Parker, winner of the 9-10 year-old softball division. "But then I got surprised. This was a fun, fun day.''
Mallory Ness, who has been playing softball since age 4, said it was twice as nice to compete along with her younger sister, Macy, who placed second in the 9-10 year-old softball division.
"I feel like I have improved, because this is my fourth time doing this,'' Mallory said. "I've never been to nationals. That would be like a dream. It's a hard thing to do because there are a lot of great players here.''
Competitors were scored in their proficiency in pitching (throwing into the "strike zone'' of a net from 35 feet in softball, and 45 feet in baseball), hitting (off a batting tee, being measured for distance and accuracy while trying to come close to a tape measure in straight-away center field) and running (timed while going from second base to home plate, 120 feet).
"It was great to be out there on an official MLB field,'' said James Hengstebeck, winner of the 11-12 year-old baseball division. "It helps if you do well in all the events. I normally don't do that well in pitching, but that was my best part today. It's fun to win. To go to the nationals would be like the greatest thing ever. I hope it happens.''
Scotts Pitch, Hit and Run Competition at Tropicana Field results:
Age 7-8 softball division
1st place: Maya Talley, St. Petersburg
2nd place: Ava Price, Valrico
3rd place: Emilee Vera, Orlando
Age 9-10 softball division
1st place: Madelyn Parker, Tampa
2nd place: Macy Ness, Plant City
3rd place: Brooke Marshall, Tallahassee
Age 11-12 softball division
1st place: Mallory Ness, Plant City
2nd place: Deanna Ross, Oldsmar
3rd place: Riley Crozier, Fort Walton Beach
Age 13-14 softball division
1st place: Mucerino Palm Bay
2nd place: Kaitlyn Eisenberg, Fort Walton Beach
3rd place: Madison Johnson, Port Orange
Age 7-8 baseball division
1st place: Jordan Petty, Palm Coast
2nd place: Liam Kangrga, Orlando
3rd place: Trey Ribeiro, St. Petersburg
Age 9-10 baseball division
1st place: Elijah Sealey, Orlando
2nd place: Dylan Supple, Sarasota
Age 11-12 baseball division
1st place: James Hengstebeck, Tallahassee
2nd place: Riley McDonald, St. Petersburg
3rd place: Noah Purrone, Clermont
4th place: Vincent Ridgeway, Melbourne
Age 13-14 baseball division
1st place: Drew Pynes, Orlando
2nd place: Luke Percifield, Pinellas Park
3rd place: Ethan Davenport, Clermont
** Joey Johnston ** is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.