Youth compete in MLB pitch, hit, run
Story and photos by Airman First Class CORY GOSSETT, 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Children participated in the Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit and Run competition April 30 at Mark Grace Thunderbolt Ball Field at Luke Air Force Base.
“This event gives children the opportunity to excel and possibly go on to compete at other levels,” said Brenda Holmes, 56th Force Support Squadron Youth Center director.
The event included boys and girls ages 7 to 14. There were four levels of competition, each consisting of the three main components of baseball – pitching, hitting and running. MLB has had more than 4,000 PHR competitions across the U.S. this year. This is Luke’s eighth year holding the event.
“The event was open to any youth who had base access,” Holmes said. “They did not need to be a youth programs member.”
Each section measured contestants differently. The pitching portion tested contestants on throwing a ball into what’s called the strike zone. Boys threw at 45 feet and girls at 35 feet. Throwing the ball into any portion of the strike zone was deemed a strike. The hitting segment required contestants to hit a ball from a stationary batting tee at home plate toward centerfield. Hits were measured on distance and accuracy. The running segment measured participant’s speed in a sprint from second to third base and finally home plate. Boys ran 160 feet while girls ran 120 feet.
Contestants have many different reasons for coming to the event.
“We’ve had a lot of youth who play on leagues or for their school,” Holmes said. “Others just come out for the fun of it.”
Tech. Sgt. Andrew Yonkers, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintainer, brought his 7-year-old son to the event. For Yonkers’ son, it was the first time participating in an MLB PHR event.
“It was a lot of fun for him,” Yonkers said. “It was great to get a little competition in and learn something new.”
Participants in each age and gender group that placed first in any of the categories were awarded certificates and advance to the next level, Holmes said.
Winners in each section will also go on to compete at the national level competition and a chance to make it into the MLB All-Star competition held in Minneapolis.
“The first step is at local level,” Holmes said. “Winners go on to compete at sectionals, which are held in Glendale. There they compete against winners from other local competitions. If they place first in sectionals in their age group, they advance to the team championship. If they place first in there, they advance to the national finals.”
National finalists receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the MLB all-star game in Minneapolis. Finalists will compete on field prior to the home run derby and get to attend the all-atar game.
“Last year one of our youth went all the way to the national level in New York and was runner up in the girls’ softball division,” Holmes said. “That was very exciting.”
May Fitness Month
May is fitness month. The 56th Force Support Squadron Bryant Fitness Center is featuring the following events:
- May 10: 8:30 a.m. Four-hour aerobathon, $5 per person at the Combat PT Center
- May 16: Powerlifting competition, 9:30 a.m. sign-in at the Combat PT Center
- May 17: 5k Family Fun Run, 6:30 a.m. at the 944th Fighter Wing HQ
- May 30: Closing ceremony, 11 a.m. at the Bryant Fitness Center
For more information, call 623-856-6241.
Police Week golf tourney
The 56th Security Forces Squadron is featuring a National Police Week Golf Tournament May 16 at Falcon Dunes Golf Course. For more information, call 623-856-7069.
Summer fun camp
Age-appropriate activities for children entering first grade through those who have completed the 6th grade include arts and crafts, experiments, games, swimming, field trips, cooking and more. Camp is open to children of active-duty military and Defense Department civilians. The cost is based on total family income. Register by May 16. For more information, call 623-856-7471.