By Renee Cho /PHR National Finalist
Renee Cho, of Rancho Cordovova, Calif., is a 2013 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run presented by Scotts National Finalist. Renee shared her Pitch, Hit & Run experiences with MLB.com.
I can't believe I'm in New York! We drove up to our hotel and I became filled with joy, I finally realized I was actually going to do this!
My dad has friends from when he was in the Army who live in New Jersey and they took us to see the Statue of Liberty from a distance and we went to see where the World Trade Center stood, it was a beautiful, sad monument.
After sightseeing, we walked to the restaurant where the dinner was at and I got to meet the other participants. While we ate we watched a slide show of our team competitions and were told about what was planned for the next few days. After a while, they surprised us and showed us all the cool gifts we got for doing a good job and making it to the National PH&R. My face lit up! This was awesome! I was so excited and it felt even more real that I was getting to do something really amazing.
Monday, we got up early and left to eat at the All-Star Brunch at the Hyatt Regency. While we were eating, we got to see some of the MLB mascots and it was so cool seeing all of them for the first time. I even got to get a picture with A's mascot "Stomper." After we ate we went to the All-Star Fan Fest and we got to do all kinds of fun things there like batting practice and stealing bases. Then we left and went to Citi Field for the competition.
First, we warmed up. Then we got introduced and started the competition. When it was my turn I walked up to the mound and threw. I missed the first two but made the last four. I was a bit disappointed in myself with my throws. Next up was the hitting. I don't know what distance my farthest ball went to. Finally, the run was next. This was my favorite part. My time was 8.23 seconds. Again, it wasn't as fast as I hoped it would be. All the contestants ate lunch after the competition. It was there we found out what we placed in the competition. I placed 3rd. I won't lie, I was really disappointed but I had some amazing competition, the other girls did really great and I'm happy for them. We all tried our hardest and it was a great experience for me anyway. I gained some great new friends and really enjoyed the rest of the day with them. During the Home Run Derby we got to shag balls for the MLB players. I was so HAPPY that Yoenis Cespedes from the Oakland A's won the Home Run Derby.
Tuesday morning was so much fun! We went back to the Fan Fest and had an award ceremony. We got our trophies and the PH&R arranged for us to have a baseball signed for us by Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry. We went over to Fan Cave and saw a lot of cool things like 15 different TVs all together. We went to the All-Star Game that evening and watched the American League beat the National League. This whole weekend has been amazing but my favorite moment was when my new friends and I were at lunch making jokes and talking in accents. We laughed so much! It was great! I am so glad I was able to have this experience. I will remember this for the rest of my life!
I was 4 when I started softball. I love when I can be shortstop, but have also played catcher and pitcher.
Around the middle of May this year, the Rancho Cordova Girls Fast Pitch Softball League held its local Pitch, Hit & Run competition. At first I decided I wasn't going to do it because none of my friends were going to participate and I had never competed in a Pitch, Hit & Run event before.
My Dad told me it was a good opportunity to challenge myself and even though my friends weren't going to try, I should give it a shot. There was nothing to lose and if I did well enough then I could compete at the next level, sectionals. So I told him I would try it.
The day of the local PHR competition was chilly. We got there and I saw that a couple of my friends were there too. We stood in line, getting ready to throw and I wasn't really thinking about making six out of six pitches. The closer it came to my turn the more focused I watched and I really wanted to get all six pitches. I wasn't nervous when my turn came and I threw the first ball and hit the target! I also hit it with the next three throws, but on my fifth throw I missed so I slowed down then threw my last ball and I made it!
The hitting part was next and my group watched the older girls hit first. When my turn came I hit my first ball 22 feet from the middle and 75 feet out in the field. My other hits were very good though. Lastly we lined up at second base for my favorite part of the competition -- running! I was the first girl in my age group to get to run. When the umpire said go I took off and ran as fast as I could. My parents and grandma were happy and they congratulated me for doing well. All the families headed for their cars like us and I had to wait a day or two before I knew my final scores.
The softball league sent out an e-mail with all the winners and I saw I had won the pitching and running portions of the competition and qualified to go on to the Sectional Competition. The president of the league and Coach Roy had a clinic for all the winners to work on their skills I really wanted to do my best at the next PHR!
On May 19, I went to the sectional PHR. We were lined up for the hitting portion and I had been working hard to get better so I felt ready when I went to the tee. My best hit was 127 ft. I was so proud of myself for hitting better than I did in the local competition. As long as I keep getting better each time I am happy. We moved on to the running part of the competition and as I stepped up to second base and waited to go, I took a deep breath and focused on third. When I heard him say "GO" I took off as fast as I could. I felt the breeze in my face and I thought this is why I love running so much. The last part was pitching and I was really nervous. I got my first ball, took my aim, threw it and missed. I got the rest of them as well. I got five out of six again.
My parents and I went to the announcement area to wait for the results. They announced first and second but they weren't me. Fingers crossed, 1st place ... they called my name! I was so happy and I knew I could possibly go to the Oakland A's Team PHR competition! A couple of weeks later I found out I had made it to the A's Team Championship! I couldn't believe it I was so happy!
June 2 was the day of the Team Championship. When we got to the A's stadium, we were escorted in so we could go down to the field. It was an amazing feeling being on a Major League Baseball field! I had never been to a professional game and never seen such a nice field before. It was so cool!
After warming up, we all lined up to throw our pitches. I took a breath and threw all six of my softballs. It was an amazing feeling, I made all six pitches! Next we did the hitting portion. My first hit was my best out of the three. I wondered how far it was but we didn't find out any of the scores until after the competition was over. When it was time to run everyone went to second base. On my turn, I took off as fast as I could and rounded third base and headed to home plate and didn't slow down.
After everyone finished we waited for the scores to be tallied. I started getting excited when they were announcing the winners and was so happy to hear I had won 1st place! We took pictures and waited for the A's game to start. I had a great day getting to watch the A's win and participate in Pitch, Hit & Run.
There was a much longer wait to hear if I had qualified for the National Finals for PHR. We would have to watch MLB network on June 30 to see if I had made it. As the day got closer I got more excited. My birthday was on July 1 so my family decided to celebrate it on the 30th which was a Sunday. That afternoon, my friend Ally, and my family sat around the TV waiting to see if I made it. We started the show and I watched and crossed my fingers. Ally and I were on the floor and when he was announcing the name before mine I saw my name and I screamed! Ally hugged me and my family cheered! I was so excited! I really wanted to go to New York. After each competition, I wanted to go a little more. I couldn't believe I had made it! Now it is time to really practice!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.