CHICAGO -- Twenty-four boys and girls ages seven to 14 from Illinois and Indiana took part in baseball and softball skill competitions early Saturday morning at Guaranteed Rate Field as part of the Scotts MLB Pitch, Hit & Run program.The youth players, having won their local age group, competed in
CHICAGO -- Twenty-four boys and girls ages seven to 14 from Illinois and Indiana took part in baseball and softball skill competitions early Saturday morning at Guaranteed Rate Field as part of the Scotts MLB Pitch, Hit & Run program.
The youth players, having won their local age group, competed in the White Sox team championship. All 30 MLB teams host similar events, and Saturday's eight age-division winners will have a chance to compete in the national finals held during All-Star Weekend in Washington, D.C.
For 14-year-old Connor Walters, who placed first in the ages 13-14 baseball group, Saturday's event was all about staying relaxed.
"I walked up just trying to have fun today, because just [a few team champions] get to go to the national finals," Walters said. "That'd be really great if I could go, but I just wanted to have fun and see how I could do."
Walters and the other seven winners were also honored on the field before the White Sox play the Brewers on Saturday.
Each of the athletes began the morning with the "Run" portion of the event, sprinting from second base to home plate as fast as they could. Then they moved on to the "Pitch" portion, where they had six opportunities to hit a plastic strike zone on a batting cage net as many times as they could. Lastly, the players ventured to the right-field foul pole for the "Hit" finale, where they hit three balls off a tee as far as they could toward the left-field foul pole.
Emma Bolding, the ages 13-14 softball champion, had competed in Pitch, Hit & Run events before at Wrigley Field and Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Despite taking first place Saturday, the 13-year-old wasn't completely satisfied with her throwing accuracy.
"I felt pretty decent, but there's always room for improvement," Bolding said.
Pitch, Hit & Run is in its 22nd year and features over 650,000 boys and girls competing every year across the U.S. and Canada. Each of the families of children who participated received tickets to Saturday's game.
Ages 7-8: Rylie Carlson, Newark, Ill.
Ages 9-10: Natalie Ferguson, Hawthorn Woods, Ill.
Ages 11-12: Sydney Springman, Carthage, Ill.
Ages 13-14: Emma Bolding, Greenfield, Ill.
Ages 7-8: Chandler Cox, South Whitley, Ind.
Ages 9-10: Zander Jones, Bushnell, Ill.
Ages 11-12: Cameron Spaulding, Indianapolis, Ind.
Ages 13-14: Connor Walters, Libertyville, Ill.
Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.