PHR participants have fun at Rangers Ballpark
Eight winners in hunt for Pitch, Hit & Run finals in Phoenix
ARLINGTON -- Harley Smith and her family left for Rangers Ballpark in Arlington at 3 a.m. CT, making the five-plus hour drive from their home in Park Hill, Okla., in the early morning hours for the Team Championships of Pitch, Hit & Run.
And the three hours of sleep didn't seem to bother Smith once she got the competitive juices flowing. Neither did the near triple-digit temperatures. Those things might have even helped her.
In the hitting portion, Smith belted a ball 145 feet, 17 feet farther than she's ever hit it. That propelled her to win the girls' ages 11-12 division.
Smith was one of eight winners on Sunday morning in the PHR event. The winners' scores will now be compared to others across the nation, and the top three all-around points leaders from each division will win a trip to Phoenix for the MLB All-Star Game on July 12 and to compete in the National Finals. The results will be announced live on MLB Network's MLB Tonight on Monday.
"It feels great," said Smith, who started playing softball when she was 4 years old. "I wasn't going to do this, but I was encouraged to, and I am happy I did it. I wasn't too nervous today, I was just having fun."
One of the highlights for the participants was being on a Major League field. Smith has been to several Double-A Tulsa Drillers games, but hadn't been to a big league stadium.
What was the best part of the stadium?
"The lights," she said with a smile.
PHR is open to kids between the ages of 7 and 14, and there is local and sectional qualifying. The regional event on Sunday included the top 24 kids from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
The champions of each round are determined by a point system. The pitching event is scored based on the accuracy of six pitches within a strike-zone banner. The hitting is based off how far competitors hit the ball and the accuracy in which they do so, and the running is simply timing their speeds from second base to home plate.
Jordan Blalock from Tahlequah, Okla., competed in the boys' 11-12 division two years ago and finished second. He made it back in the boys' 13-14 division, though, and won it this time.
"It's a good feeling, it's awesome," Blalock said.
The most memorable part for Blalock was being back on the field and in the dugout of the Rangers.
"They are definitely my favorite team," he said.
Drew Davison is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.