CINCINNATI -- On Saturday morning at Great American Ball Park, 23 girls and boys were given the opportunity to showcase their skills on the same field as Major League players. And at the end of the day, eight still have the chance to potentially compete on an even bigger stage.
Pitch, Hit & Run, the official youth skills competition of Major League Baseball, invites kids to demonstrate their pitching, hitting and running abilities in baseball and softball. The competition coincides with this weekend's "PLAY BALL" initiative between Major League Baseball, USA Baseball and USA Softball, which encourages widespread participation in all forms of baseball/softball activities among all age groups, especially youth. The initiative also provides players, parents and coaches with resources to help find events and leagues, as well as proper play information and instruction, through playball.org.
The Pitch, Hit & Run participants made it to Great American Ball Park by winning at the local and sectional levels. The eight first-place finishers at Saturday's event were Kennedy Rowlett (age 7/8 softball), Reece Albers (9/10 softball), Lillian Ehlers (11/12 softball), Kayleigh Michael (13/14 softball), Max Brunkel (7/8 baseball), Gavin Evers (9/10 baseball), Peyton Harris (11/12 baseball) and Max Johnson (13/14 baseball).
Johnson, from Mason, Ohio, has been competing in Pitch, Hit & Run events for the past eight years. In what could have been his last time in the competition, he made sure he went out on top.
"It was just a good feeling, because this is my last year doing this, and to know I went out on a good note, that just makes me feel good," he said.
Up next for Johnson and the seven other winners is a long wait as the rest of the league hosts their Pitch, Hit & Run events. On June 26, the top competitors in each age group will be announced, and they will go on to compete in the Scotts MLB Pitch, Hit & Run finals at Marlins Park in Miami during MLB All-Star Week.
The chance to head to South Florida and go up against boys and girls from all over the country is an exciting prospect for the competitors.
"It would be really cool," said Albers, the 9/10 softball champion from Yorkshire, Ohio.
For more information on the event and to get involved in 2018, visit PitchHitRun.com.