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Area kids show off their skills at PNC Park

Local Pitch, Hit & Run winners hope to compete in finals during All-Star Week

Madison Wiltrout is getting used to this, but that doesn't make it any less meaningful.

The Connelsville, Pa., native on Saturday captured her sixth Pitch, Hit & Run Competition in seven tries representing the Pittsburgh Pirates, winning the 13-14-year-old Girls Age Division. But one thing Wiltrout has never accomplished is qualifying for the National Finals, which will be held at Citi Field during MLB All-Star Week. The program is presented by Scotts, the official lawn lawn care company of Major League baseball.

"It would be a dream come true," she said. "That's all I want."

Wiltrout can make the finals by scoring in the top three for her age group among the 30 winners -- one from each Major League team. The 24 national finalists -- three from eight different age/gender groups -- will be announced Sunday night between 6:30 and 7:10 p.m. ET on MLB Network. In addition to the competition, the winners will shag fly balls in the Home Run Derby.

Ty Bender, who advanced to the National Finals last year, won the 11-12-year-old Boys Age Division on Saturday, and he hopes to make it back again. Bender described last year's experience as "something I'll never forget," and said he got there with hard work and dedication.

In addition to Bender and Wiltrout, six more winners will hope their scores are among the top three in their respective age groups and genders. Each competitor had to win their local, then sectional crown to be among the three to compete at PNC Park. All the competitors and their families were invited to watch the Brewers and Pirates at PNC Park on Saturday night.

Bill Hunt, whose son, Will, won the 9-10-year-old Boys Age Division, said the Pitch, Hit & Run competition is one of the best events MLB puts on for local communities and players. And he was proud of how his son competed, hitting the ball off a tee, running, and pitching to a target-sized strike zone on Saturday.

"I'll always say the most proud I'll ever be was the day my son was born," Hunt said. "But this is pretty cool."

More than 600,000 kids across North America participated in the "Official Youth Skills Competition of Major League Baseball," in girls softball and boys baseball divisions in 2013. Over 4,000 local competitions take place each year, hosted by organizations, leagues or volunteers within a community.

The results at PNC Park on Saturday were:

7-8-year-old Girls Age Division
Taryn Stewart, Petersburg, Pa., 1st
Caroline Malandra, McKeesport, Pa., 2nd
Ailene Orton, North East, Pa., 3rd

9-10-year-old Girls Age Division
Kierra Serb, Snow Shoe, Pa., 1st
Abby Hartley, Camden, W. Va., 2nd
Mia Harrison, White Oak, Pa., 3rd

11-12-year-old Girls Age Division
Lauren Lewis, McKeesport, Pa., 1st
Katherine Hart, Pittsburgh, Pa., 2nd
Paige Beam, Alexandria, Pa., 3rd

13-14-year-old Girls Age Division
Wiltrout, Connelsville, Pa., 1st
Chloe Eisenberg, Pittsburgh, Pa., 2nd
Chelsea Kirsch, Nicktown, Pa., 3rd

7-8-year-old Boys Age Division
Jacob Hufnagel, Pittsburgh, Pa., 1st
Tanner Trybus, St. Benedict, Pa., 2nd
Matthew Tarbuk, Pittsburgh, Pa., 3rd

9-10-year-old Boys Age Division
Hunt, Jane Lew, W. Va., 1st
Samuel Sweeney, Pittsburgh, Pa., 2nd
Kyle Elensky, Clearfield, Pa., 3rd

11-12-year-old Boys Age Division
Bender, Woodland, Pa., 1st
Jacob Hoyle, Pittsburgh, Pa., 2nd
Drake Sypolt, Pleasant Hills, Pa., 3rd

13-14-year-old Boys Age Division
Brett Christian, Huntington, W. Va., 1st
Luke Franc, Pittsburgh, Pa., 2nd
Ryan Cedzo, Fairview, Pa., 3rd

Most kids who competed are in the middle of their softball and baseball All-Star seasons. Bender even had a game Saturday night. After the individual competition wraps up, there's still plenty more to play for. For Bender, a Little League World Series appearance is something he hopes to add to his list of baseball feats.

"Yeah, I hope so," Bender said. "That would be something."

Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for

Pittsburgh Pirates