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Springfield, MO

U.S. Baseball is preparing to host a Major League Baseball Pitch Hit & Run Competition at its Ozark stadium.
SBJ file photo
U.S. Baseball is preparing to host a Major League Baseball Pitch Hit & Run Competition at its Ozark stadium.

U.S. Baseball nabs MLB competition

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U.S. Baseball League LLC is scheduled to host a Major League Baseball Pitch Hit & Run Competition for area youth on April 25 at its ballpark in Ozark. The free one-day event is the official skills competition of the MLB.

The program allows kids to compete in a competition recognizing “individual excellence in core baseball/softball skills,” according to a news release.

General Manager Mark Stratton added it’s also a good way to showcase the park.

“This is a little bit more of a community service promotion for us,” he said, adding that there is no registration fee. “This will be a good time to have people come in who haven’t been at our park before.”

Boys and girls are divided into four age divisions from ages 7-14. There are individual championships for baseball and softball in pitching, hitting and running, in addition to the All-Around Champion award in each division age group. So far, Stratton said the park has fielded about 20 calls from interested participants since yesterday.

“We have a lot of interest. We just started the promotion this week,” he said. “We had a lot of people call and want to make sure they know how to get registered.”

According to PitchHitRun.com, participants can advance through four levels including locals, sectionals, team championships and national finals during MLB All-Star Week. Stratton said kids  who qualify through each level move from U.S. Baseball to an MLB-affiliated park – such as the St. Louis Cardinals or Kansas City Royals stadiums.

“Typically, they go to an MLB-affiliated park and hold a Pitch Hit and Run contest there,” he said. “Eventually, they get to be on the national scene and qualify at a national level there.”

Stratton said U.S. Baseball had to go through an approval and qualification process with MLB to host an event. According to MLB, qualified parks are then provided with a kit to plan and promote the event. Competitions are managed through the MLB website and results of winners are submitted online.

According to PitchHitRun.com, there are seven baseball parks in Missouri qualified to host the competition. Locally, that includes U.S. Baseball, Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield at Musgrave Unit and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board at Killian Sports Complex.

U.S. Baseball renovated the long-vacant Price Cutter Park baseball stadium to launch in mid-2016. Owners Jeff Williams and his sister Wendi Taylor invested $2.5 million to renovate and outfit the venue.

The Missouri State University Bears baseball team has practices at the park, and Stratton said the field can house games for the college, too, if it’s usual home of Hammons Field is tied up in Springfield. The Drury University Panthers play all of their home games at U.S. Baseball Park, and tournaments by CoxHealth, the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association, Premier Baseball and others are held there, as well.

According to previous Springfield Business Journal reporting, U.S. Baseball’s number of events rose from 80 during its abbreviated inaugural year to 156 in 2017 with a projected 200-205 this year, Stratton said – noting beyond baseball, company functions and concerts featuring bands such as The Ozark Mountain Daredevils also are held at the park. He said total attendance was an estimated 75,000 last year and the goal is 100,000 this year.

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