'Trip of a lifetime' for Pitch, Hit and Run kids

'Trip of a lifetime' for Pitch, Hit and Run kids

PHILADELPHIA -- Saturday morning's Scotts MLB Pitch, Hit & Run competition at Citizens Bank Park gathered the best baseball and softball players between the ages of seven and 14 to compete for a spot in the event finals during the 2017 MLB All-Star weekend in Miami, Fla.

The Pitch, Hit & Run initiative, the official youth skills competition of Major League Baseball, allows young players from the area to show off their baseball and softball skills. The competition falls under the Play Ball umbrella, sponsored by MLB, USA Baseball, and USA Softball.

Twenty-four participants traveled from eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey, but one town, Dauphin, Pa., and one softball league in particular, Dauphin Softball Association, stole the show.

Emma Wonsick (13/14 softball division), Maysen Fisher (11/12 division), and Emma Wolfe (9/10 division) all hail from Dauphin Softball Association, about two hours west of Philadelphia, and each placed in first in their age group.

But despite their individual successes and the chance they could take part in the championship round -- what Phillies Pitch, Hit & Run representative Bennett Mayfield called a "trip of a lifetime" -- their lasting memories will instead come from the privilege of having played on the field at Citizens Bank Park.

"It's cool to see how big it actually is in comparison to our field," Wonsick said. This was her first time at the ballpark. Instead of sitting in the seats like most first timers, she got the Major League treatment and felt the playing surface crunch beneath her feet.

Fisher said her favorite part was getting to do what not many kids have done in playing on the field, realizing, "Wow, I'm actually standing where Major Leaguers have played before."

"I also got my shoes a little dirty, so I can remember that dirt," she continued, saying she'd be sure not to let her parents wash away the remnants of her morning at the field.

And for Wolfe, Saturday was a family affair with her younger sister, Eliza, partaking as well in the 7/8 division age group.

"The ultimate goal is to get bats and balls in kids' hands and have them come out and have a good time," Mayfield said.

This year's event saw 650,000 participants in the first round of competition, 50,000 more than last year.

Winners by age group:

Softball 7/8: Brianne Smith (Scotrun, Pa.)

Baseball 7/8: Ashton Wall (Gloucester, N.J.)

Softball 9/10: Emma Wolfe (Dauphin, Pa.)

Baseball 9/10: Shane Monaghan (Downingtown, Pa.)

Softball 11/12: Maysen Fisher (Dauphin, Pa.)

Baseball 11/12: Bronson Kilmer (South Gibson, Pa.)

Softball 13/14: Emma Wonsick (Dauphin, Pa.)

Baseball 13/14: Joseph Marino (Bellmawr, N.J.)

Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.