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Courtesy LEJ Sports Group
Avery Greider, 10, of Fort Wayne will compete with 23 other kids next week at the Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run national finals in New York.

Local girl nabs a spot in national MLB event

– Avery Greider had tried for this – over and over and over again – and finally she’s done it.

The 10-year-old baseball player from Fort Wayne will take part in the Scotts National Finals of the Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run competition.

She will be among 24 kids, ages 7 to 14, showing off their skills at Citi Field in New York City, highlighted by shagging fly balls during the Home Run Derby, which will be televised by ESPN on Monday at 8 p.m.

“I’m excited. I’m not nervous or anything,” said Greider, who will compete in the division for 9- and 10-year-old girls. “This is as far as I could get and I’m just really glad it’s happening.”

To get this all-expense paid trip to the All-Star Game – she will be accompanied by her father – Avery Greider had to win several competitions.

It started at her home field, Hamilton Park. Then it was to a TinCaps game at Parkview Field. That got her to U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, where she won again.

While that might sound impressive enough, she had been to Chicago three times previously, winning each time. The difference this year was, from the winners in her division at all 30 major league ballparks, her scores were in the top three and got her to New York.

Amid the whirlwind of activities planned for Greider and the other kids, there will, of course, be the final Pitch, Hit & Run competition Monady at 3 p.m. Greider will be up against Allison Lowrey of Bridgewater, N.J., representing the New York Mets, and Rebecka Mellor of Nokomis, Fla., representing the Miami Marlins.

“Then they get to hang around batting practice and take part in what I consider to be the most phenomenal aspect of this whole thing: All 24 kids shag balls during the Home Run Derby and that’s the major aspect. You always see those kids running around and wonder who they are. That will be Avery,” said her father, Scott.

Avery Greider has been playing since she enrolled in T-ball at age 5. Like her father and her siblings, she’s a catcher. “But I think I’m particularly good in running and that’s kind of what gave me a boost the last (competition),” she said.

More than 600,000 kids participated in more than 4,000 events within the Pitch, Hit & Run, according to MLB.

“It’s been remarkable,” Scott Greider said. “We’ve always known that she’s had some skills that would lend themselves to competition. But to actually hear the announcement on the MLB Network (that she was going), and then 15 minutes later to get a phone call from the sports marketing firm asking what our local airport was, it was amazing. (Avery) was actually born in New York City. It’s like going home.”

Speaking of that, Avery Greider is a New York Yankees fan, but she has no problems setting foot on the field of their cross-town rivals.

“I think it’s an amazing experience to be anywhere in New York,” she said.

Should her favorite Yankee, Derek Jeter, happen to find his way to the festivities, this whole thing would go from a home run to a grand slam.

jcohn@jg.net

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