Dozens of local youth baseball players spent part of their Saturday competing for a chance to potentially display their skills on the week of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Cleveland later this year.
At Vivon Field, boys and girls 12 and younger, as well as 14 and younger, took part in the Home Run Derby, while next door at Lions Field, boys and girls 7-14 competed in pitch, hit and run contests. Members of the Jefferson City Renegades college baseball team along with players and coaches from Jefferson City, Helias and Blair Oaks high school teams assisted with the events.
"We have good participation at all levels of baseball here, from youth through high school," Jefferson City Parks Manager of Youth Sports Steve Schellman said.
For pitching, the pitchers had to hit a strike zone mat. For hitting, a tee was set at home plate and a tape was stretched in a straight line from home plate to center field. The players had to hit the ball as far and as straight as they could. For running, starting between second and third base, the players ran as fast as they could to home plate. In the home run derby, the players hit the ball as far as they could.
"We've done the pitch, hit and run for over 20 years and the home run derby has been just off and on," Schellman said.
Sectional competition will take place May 5 in Jefferson City and regional competitions will be in Kansas City and St. Louis. The regional winners go on to the nationals in Cleveland.
Schellman said they hope they have the same type of results as they've seen recently in their basketball skills competition sponsored by the National Basketball Association (NBA).
"We've had a kid make it to the nationals in that competition three years in a row so hopefully that success will happen in these competitions, too," Schellman said. "We do have a lot of support and we're working hard to provide the first class facilities for these players to keep coming out too."
The list of winners from these events will be posted after noon Monday on the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry website, jeffersoncitymo.org/parks, and it will be on the baseball page.