Kids show Pitch, Hit & Run skills at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- After winning her division's Scotts MLB Pitch, Hit & Run competition national championship last year in Cincinnati, Kylee Holderied may be on her way to claiming another one.

At Citi Field on Saturday, Holderied won the 13-14-year-old softball division and, along with the seven other winners, has a chance to move on and compete in the National Finals at Petco Park in San Diego during this year's All-Star Week.

"Being the national champion last year, it would be really exciting to go again," Holderied said.

"We can only hope [we get that experience again]," Holderied's father added. "Major League Baseball does a tremendous job with that. They treat you like you are special, like you're royalty when you are out there.

"The kids are all there to compete, but they have the best time hanging out and making new friends, so it's a really good experience."

Other winners of the softball division were Francesca Colangelo (7-8), Kaleigh Sommers (11-12) and Allie Clark (13-14). The first-place awards for the baseball divisions went to Jacob Young of East Durham, N.Y., (7-8), Ryan Tam of Wantagh, Conn. (9-10), Tyler Daugherty of Highland Falls, N.Y., (11-12) and Jake Dannenberg of Middle Island, N.Y.

The three other winners in the softball division all hailed from the same city as Holderied -- Fairfield, Conn., giving her an added level of comfort inside the Mets' home ballpark.

"I think it helped, because I wasn't as nervous," Holderied said. "You have somebody to talk to, and that made it a lot easier."

Of the12 softball competitors, Holderied was the only one to throw a traditional underhanded pitch, and it paid off, helping her secure first place.

"I didn't throw my actual fastball," Holderied said. "It was more of a control pitch that I throw sometimes, because it is easier to throw it accurate."

Much like Holderied, Tam, the winner of the 9-10-year-old baseball division, excelled at pitching as well, crediting his father, Walter, for his throwing prowess.

"Fifteen minutes a day out there, all the time, [he's teaching me]," Ryan said. "When I was pitching, I got to see what the people in front of me did, so I was going to try and do better than that, and that was kind of the strategy I had."

All participants had to advance through two levels of competition -- the local and sectional competitions -- to reach Saturday's team competition. All 30 MLB clubs will host team championships at their ballparks on weekends through June 26.

To watch his son advance to the Team Championship level of the competition was something Walter will never forget.

"I'm so proud that I have goose bumps," Walter said. "These are the kinds of things dad's dream of, and then when you see it all come together in a competition, it's incredible."

The eight winners were honored before the Mets and Braves played on Saturday, and they'll find out if they qualified for the National Finals during an announcement on MLB Network on June 27.

Troy Provost-Heron is a reporter for based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.