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Youths pitch, swing toward goals

May 17, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- Shelley Lightner stood behind a fenced area, encouraging a boy to throw his best.

"Come on, get it in there," Lightner said, waving her arms in the air.

Lightner came from Baltimore to see her sister's grandson compete in the Aquafina Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run Competition at Brandenburg Memorial Park on Mill Street Sunday afternoon.

Lightner and other family members were happy to report that Brycen Winters, an 8-year-old Emma K. Doub Elementary School student, was doing well in the beginning of the contest.

Airin Martin, 12, stood up the line to make his best pitches. He hurled a speeding baseball to hit a target on the fence.

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"He throws," said his father, Bill Martin of Hagerstown. "This keeps him fresh," said Martin, whose son plays for the Western Enterprise team in the West End Little League.

Brad Keller brought his 10-year-old son, Brooks, who plays in the South Mountain Little League.

"I like it," said Brooks as he swung an imaginary bat between competition segments.

Organizers said 31 youths participated in the free event, which provides an opportunity to demonstrate individual excellence in core baseball skills. Competitors are divided into age categories and have the chance to advance through four levels of competition, including team championships at Major League Baseball parks and a national final.

In the pitching competition, each youth gets six chances to throw at a target 46 feet away and in the running part, youths are timed in a run from second base to home plate, organizers said.

In the hitting segment, each competitor gets three swings to demonstrate distance and accuracy.

There are individual pitching, hitting and running champions and all-around champions in each age group. The all-around winners Sunday were Naquan Chung in the 7- and 8-year-old category; Isaiah Kershner, 9- and 10-year-old category; and Airin Martin, 11- and 12-year-old category.

The overall winners are determined through a composite score in pitching, hitting and running, said Jennifer Kram, an event spokeswoman.

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