Rays host Pitch, Hit & Run competition
Winners may get chance to attend national competition during All-Star Week in Cincinnati
ST. PETERSBURG -- For Olivia Feldman, Sunday must have felt like déjà vu.
Two years ago, she stood on the field at Tropicana Field hoisting her plague for winning the 7-8-year-old girls division, eventually making her way to Citi Field to compete in Major League Baseball's Pitch, Hit and Run Presented by Scotts competition at the 2013 MLB All-Star Game.
On Sunday after the Rays' 2-1 win over the White Sox, Feldman, who competed in the 9-10-year-old division, was once again holding that plague and is one step closer to returning to the All-Star Game -- this time in Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park -- after tossing three of six pitches for strikes, hustling from second to home in 9.15 seconds and crushing a ball 99 feet.
"I was just thinking that, win or lose, I made it far enough, but it feels good to win," Feldman said. "It would be really cool and fun to get to go to the All-Star Game again."
Other winners of the girls' groups were Olivia Benson of Dade City (7-8), Mystic DeBose of Tampa, (11-12) and Kelsea Corbin of Youngstown (13-14). The other first-place awards for the boys' divisions went to Joseph Stosh of Webster (7-8), Trevor Jones of St. Petersburg (9-10), Daniel Bell of Bartow (11-12) and Brian Zerr of Youngstown (13-14).
Zerr started out by tossing four strikes in the pitching portion of the competition.
"There wasn't much running through my mind," said Zerr of his quick start, "I was just trying to have fun."
Zerr achieved that and much more on Sunday, despite a modest level of expectation. After putting himself in good position with his pitching, he scurried around third base and across home plate in a time of 7.19 seconds and followed that up by belting a ball 169 feet, leading to a shocked Zerr hearing his name called as the awards were being handed out.
"I didn't come out here to win today," Zerr said. "I wasn't expecting to win, so I was surprised when I did. I'm excited I won."
As Zerr stood alongside Feldman and all the other winners, his father, Brian Zerr Sr. couldn't help but feel a rush of pride.
"I'm unbelievably proud of him," Brian Zerr Sr. said. "I can't ask for anything more. He came out here just to have fun and he ended up winning the whole thing. It's a big honor as a father to watch him come out here and see him do what he's done."
Feldman, Zerr and the day's other winners will learn whether or not they have advanced to the national finals on June 28 on MLB Network. Participants with the top three scores in each age group across the 30 Team Championship competitions will qualify.
After having an unforgettable experience in 2013, the Feldman family would be ecstatic to hear Olivia's name once more come announcement time.
"It was unbelievable two years ago," Chris Feldman said. "It was like she was a rock star. We had a great time, the whole family went and it was very exciting, so we'd love to go again."