"Play Ball is about getting kids to play baseball," said Amy Ashbrock, Scott's MLB Pitch, Hit and Run national headquarters representative. "It could be in the playground playing Wiffle ball, it could be playing catch in your front yard. This is just another component of that where the Pitch, Hit and Run program is the official skills competition of Major League Baseball."
• Play Ball
Each Major League park hosts a team championship each year, with a winner in each of the four age groups (7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14) in both the baseball and softball divisions. The winner from each age group gets compared to the winners across the other 29 team championships, with the top three getting a chance to compete in the national competition, held before the Home Run Derby in San Diego on July 11.
The competition is comprised of three events: a pitching portion, a hitting portion and a baserunning portion. The pitching event is scored based on the number of strikes thrown out of six pitches from 35 feet for the softball division and 45 feet for the baseball division. The hitting event is scored based on the longest ball hit off three attempts from a tee. The baserunning event is scored based on the amount of time it takes the competitor to run from second to home.
While the winners at the local level do get recognized before Saturday's game against the Athletics, it's much more about creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for local youth and stimulating their interest in the game. "[The event provides] the excitement of being able to go out on the field where they watch these players -- their pros, their idols -- play every day," Ashbrock said. "They are very excited to be out there, just to be down on the field where they are watching and sitting in the stands normally, now they're down on the field. They're super excited but they were also very nervous."
Here is the full list of winners from the event:
• Emilee Hargis, Eaton, Ohio, 7/8 softball division
• Samantha Bolding, Greenfield, Ind., 9/10 softball division
• Lilly Stewart, Greenfield, Ind., 11/12 softball division
• Kayleigh Michael, Eaton, Ohio, 13/14 softball division
• Grayson Houchin, Hamilton, Ohio, 7/8 baseball division
• Zach Waltman, New Castle, Ind., 9/10 baseball division
• Wyatt Blinn, Plainfield, Ind., 11/12 baseball division
• Max Johnson, Mason, Ohio, 13/14 baseball division