This spring, baseball and softball players from more than 60 little leagues across New England participated in Major League Baseball’s Pitch Hit and Run regional competitions that seek out some of the best youth players around.
From the pool of local winners, the top three scorers in each of four age groups in both baseball and softball were invited to participate in the New England Team Championships hosted by the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Aug. 14.
Defying the odds, three participants from Waterbury’s Clyde Whittemore Little League earned a spot to participate at the major league park.
In what was likely the highlight of their summer, three local youngsters took part in the Pitch Hit and Run event held ahead of a Boston Red Sox-Baltimore Orioles game, which they had seats for, too.
The local youngsters to take the field were August Backman, age 12, in the 11-12-year-old baseball category; 13-year-old Brook Reed in the 13-14-year-old softball category; Audrey Conyers, age 8, in the 7-8-year-old softball group. Both August and Audrey came in first in their divisions.
The competition has three parts as its name indicates: pitch, hit and run.
The pitch portion tests how accurately a competitor can throw strikes to a designated “strike zone” target from a designated distance (35 feet for the softball division and 45 feet for the baseball division). Any method of underhand/overhand pitching or throwing is accepted and any attempt hitting any portion of the target is called a strike.
The hit portion tests a competitor’s ability to hit from a stationary batting tee along a tape measure from home plate toward straight-away centerfield. Hits are measured for distance and accuracy.
The run portion measures speed in a sprint from the start line, touching third base, and touching home plate as all participants run a total of 120 feet.
The winners in each category were announced on the field before the Red Sox-Orioles game started.
As other team competitions are completed around the U.S. winners await word to see if they might land a spot in the final round. The top three in each age group compete in the national round held during the World Series and finalists receive an all-expense paid trip for two to the World Series.