Scotts MLB Pitch Hit & Run National Finalist Experience - Elijha Hammill

7/5/2016

Hi, my name is Elijha Hammill and I am from Oakville, Ontario, Canada. I'm 12 years old and I'll be competing in the 11 and 12-year-old baseball division for the Scotts MLB Pitch Hit & Run National Finals competition. In September I'll be going into the eighth grade. I have loved baseball since I went to my first Blue Jays game with my Dad when I was 2. My goal is to be a professional baseball player. I found out about the PHR competition four years ago and ever since I have been competing in the competition. The first year I competed, I didn't make it past Regionals. I worked hard by spending more time in the batting cage, on the track field, and practicing pitching to my Dad. Last year I made it to Nationals and I finished second in Cincinnati. Getting to go to the All-Star game was an awesome experience. I didn't know what to expect, but I was lost in greatness. I was so excited. 

This year I started the competition in a town called Branford, Ontario. It's not a really big town but the people are nice. I was really nervous to start the competition but I was able to hold it together and play my own baseball. I started with the first event which was the pitching part of the competition. There I was able to pitch 5 strikes out of 6. The next event was the hitting part of the competition. I knew I was a good hitter because I take private lessons with Scott Bullet, who used to play for the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates, and Yen Chong, who also coached Daulton Pompey before he made it to the big leagues. I knew that if I did my best, then I would do excellent. The first swing I took was well hit into centre field. The next one was even further. Then the next one was even further. I was so proud of myself because of how far I was able to hit and because I was done the first two events and I was going to compete in my favourite event of the competition which was the running part. This year I am playing for the Ontario Blue Jays in the CPBL and I take extra running and conditioning lessons with Coach Courtney Brown. I was very excited to see how far I have come with running since last year. I did my run and I heard my time. I was very impressed with myself. 

The same day I was sitting at home and my dad got a phone call from the Brantford Pitch Hit & Run organizers saying that I advanced to Sectionals, to be held in St Mary's, Ontario, a small town about two hours from where I live and home of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. 

We make it a family event when we go to St Mary's to tour and visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I was really happy because I knew if I kept practicing, training, and playing the way I play baseball, then I would keep advancing in the competition. 

The competition was good. The players I was competing against could pitch well, hit well, and run well. However, I felt as if I was still the better player. After the competition was over, we got the results. I ended up in 1st place!!! I was so happy because I knew that was one more step closer to the final round. 

I was very impatient to know if I advanced or not to Team Championships. I passed the days going to the clubhouse to practice as much as I could. A few days went by before I found out I had advanced to the Team Championships. I was hopeful that I would advance and was very excited to find out I was going back to Rogers Centre!! I was so happy that I had advanced because I got to do the next competition on the Rogers Centre field.  I always get excited when I go on the field at Rogers Centre. I feel at home. 

The day had finally come to do the competition at Rogers Centre. It started off with the hitting event. When it was my turn I absolutely crushed a ball deep into centre field. After that hit I heard oohs and aahs, and whistles from the crowd. I felt good and smiled. Next was the running. I took my mark at second base and then ran as fast as I could to third then home. Then the pitching part of the competition. I pitched 4 strikes out of 6. The competition was over and it was time for them to give out the awards. I was really nervous to hear the results. They said the third place winner's name and it wasn't me. They said the second place winner's name and it wasn't me. They said the first place winner's name and it was me!!! I was really happy because that meant I had a chance to go to the final round at the MLB All-Star game again!!

After a couple weeks my dad got the call saying I had finished in the top three and I was going to San Diego. I was at my baseball practice at the time and after it was done my dad called and said "you made it". I am so happy that I get to go back to the All-Star game and compete!!!! It is a great experience to go to the All-Star game and to compete against people from a different country.  After my experience last year I have set a personal goal for myself for this year. I have been training and practicing for this moment since I decided to do the competition again this year.  I have learned that hard work pays off in the end. Pray, train hard, and believe in yourself, and good things will happen!!!