Saturday, November 18, 2017
Sports

Valrico girl wins MLB's Pitch, Hit and Run championship

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VALRICO

Not too shabby for a little Valrico softball club.

Sloan Hammons became the second Florida Fire player to win a national Pitch, Hit and Run championship when the 12-year-old took home the title Monday in Kansas City prior to the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby.

"I was so excited," Hammons said. "I couldn't believe it."

Hammons, representing the Tampa Bay Rays, was one of three finalists in the 11-12 softball division. Hammons joins fellow Fire player Annie Tarte, who won the national title in 2009. The Fire's Raelynn Nichols also reached the national finals in 2008

"It really says something about the (Fire) organization," said Hammons' father, Eric. "Not too bad, huh?"

Hammons took a lead in the competition's first event and never looked back. She pitched five of six balls into the target zone while her closest competitor only got two.

"She got out to a big lead," Eric Hammons said. "The pitching is what did it for her."

The event continued with the girls hitting off a tee and running the bases.

Hammons' parents and brother Lance were in attendance for the competition. Hammons also shagged balls during the Home Run Derby and caught three balls, including Robinson Cano's final out.

"It was pretty crazy out there (in the outfield) because kids were tackling little kids to get to balls," Hammons said. "It was insane."

Hammons got a chance to meet a handful of All-Stars, including St. Louis Cardinals World Series Most Valuable Player David Freese and New York Met R.A. Dickey. Both players gave her signed memorabilia.

"I didn't know a lot of the guys, and they kept calling the players by their last name only," she said. "I wanted to meet David Price, but I didn't get a chance."

Hammons said all the players took a trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

"We got to see a really cool video, so that was fun," she said. "And they had a lot of interesting relics."

Hammons also took in another Kansas City staple — barbecue.

"I don't eat a lot of meat," she said. "But they took us to (local restaurant) Jack Stacks. The baby back ribs were amazing."

Hammons said one of her favorite things was meeting new friends, including the girls in her age group. She has plenty of souvenirs to take home and plans on handing a few out as well.

"I have gifts for all of my friends who stuck by me through this whole process," she said. "I'll give them to them right after we get done tackling each other when I get home."

Brandon Wright can be reached at [email protected]

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