Local youth showcase skills in Pitch, Hit and Run Competition

Published 1:57 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Synergy Sports Training of Demopolis served as local host for the 2013 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit and Run Competition this past Saturday.

This grassroots program is designed to provide youngsters with an opportunity to compete free of charge, in a competition that recognizes individual excellence in core baseball and softball skills.

For the third year in a row, a Girls Softball Division was part of the program, which allows girls to compete and advance separately from the boys throughout the competition.

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Pitch, Hit and Run participants advance through four levels of competition, beginning at the local level and continuing through sectional and team competitions. All 30 Major League clubs will host team championships at their ballparks during June. The top three competitors nationwide from each age group advance to the 2013 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run National Finals. National Finalists receive an all-expense paid trip to the All-Star Game in New York where they will participate in an array of festivities in addition to the competition.

Montgomery Freeman dominated the 7/8 age group, winning every event on his way to All-Around Champion. In the 9/10 age group, which was tightly contested, Cole Wilson was Run Champion and Pitch Co-Champion with Cade Grace, who also shared the hitting title with Brody Blanton. In the end Wilson accumulated enough points to narrowly earn the title of All-Around Champion.

The 11/12 age group had an unusual four-way tie in the Pitching Competition with Garett Norton, Price Smith, Maxwell George and Trey Malone earning a share of the title. Braden Blanton edged out Norton by just six one-hundredths of a second in the Run Competition, but Norton outhit everyone in every age group with a monster hit of 183 feet to center field.

“That may not seem very far but you have to realize that was hit off a tee. If he had hit a typical fastball for his age group like that the ball would have traveled over 250 feet,” Brian Sellersm who coordinated the event, said.

Norton’s dominating performance in the Hitting Competition combined with strong showings in the other two events allowed him to secure the title of All-Around Champion by a comfortable margin.

In the 13/14 age group Claude Lampley recorded the fastest run time of 7.72 seconds. According to Sellers, who has directed three of these competitions, Lampley is extremely fast, but his base path was less than optimal and cost the runner a half second. A time of 7.25 would place Lampley in the top 95th percentile nationally, but more importantly, a half second at his age equates to 10 feet which is a huge margin in baseball.

“That is the difference between being out and safe, winning and losing, champion and runner-up” Sellers said.

Lampley also won the Hitting Competition, but it was his teammate Wesley Graves who dominated the Pitching Competition that allowed him to be crowned All-Around Champion.

Anna Katherine Sellers and Alexa Martinez, both 8, were the only girls to participate in the event. The two girls tied in the hitting competition but Sellers managed narrow victories in the Pitching and Running events to earn the title of All-Around Champion.

Thirteen participants qualified to advance to the Sectional Competition to be held May 19 in Madison, where they will compete against other Local Champions from across the region for an opportunity to advance to the Team Championships at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves.