By Alicia Zappia /PHR National Finalist
Alicia Zappia, of Rancho Bernardo, CA, is a 2014 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run presented by Scotts National Finalist. Alicia shared her Pitch, Hit & Run experiences with MLB.com.
I couldn't believe that it was already time to head to Minnesota! It was a long plane ride but one of the most exciting as well. When I finally arrived at the Minneapolis airport I found the Pitch, Hit & Run staff and we met up to wait for the bus to take us back to the hotel.
At 6 o'clock we had a huge Welcome Dinner and it was so amazing because the food was absolutely delicious and right away everyone became such good friends. At first everyone seemed nervous to meet one another but as soon as the dinner started it seemed like everyone got to know each other better and started to become good friends. During the dinner they showed us a slideshow of the other competitors and awesome gifts that we received. The gift bag was so big you could practically fit in it! The gifts were so amazing as well. A USA Softball representative was there with us and all the girls got autographed shirts from the USA Softball Women's National Team! Afterwards the PH&R staff told us what our next 3 days were going to be like.
On Monday we had a big breakfast at a beautiful hotel where we were treated like queens and kings and all the mascots came in and were so funny, it made the breakfast a lot cooler. I even got to take pictures with all of them which is something I'll remember for the rest of my life!
Afterwards we got onto the bus and headed to FanFest. Fanfest was so cool because we got to steal bases, do batting practice and even take a picture of yourself and be put on a baseball card! Then after FanFest it was time to compete.
We competed at Target Field and it was huge! First when we got there we warmed up, then we got introduced and even had our pictures on the big screen every time we were up. When I was up for the pitching portion I missed two but made the rest. I was pretty disappointed in missing the two because they were low and I knew I could have done better. Next was the hitting and I don't know what I got for the hitting but I know I did good because the ball went pretty far. Finally the running was next and I was told that I hold the All-Time record for running which is 7.22 seconds and was shocked that I hold the fastest running record. But this time it wasn't as fast as my record, I was a few milliseconds off.
After the competition was over we all ate dinner together and waited for the Home Run Derby to start. As we were in the bullpen we got to know what we placed. I placed 2nd. I was proud of myself for what I placed but I knew I could have done better but everyone tried their hardest and everyone at the end of the day were champions. During the Home Run Derby we were shagging balls and it's actually really intense because the balls get hit so hard! But during it I met a bunch of new people from all over the country which was really exciting. The winner was Yoenis Cespedes from the Oakland Athletics who is the defending champion of the Home Run Derby title.
On Tuesday when we had free time I went to Mall Of America and it's huge! It has five roller coasters in it! Afterwards, it was time to go back to FanFest and get our trophies and do the awards ceremony. The trophies we got were so big. We got signed balls by a bunch of hall of fame players.
We then went to the All-Star Game and watched the American League beat the National League. This was Derek Jeter's last time playing in the All-Star Game and I was so lucky to watch his last All-Star Game. This whole trip has been so amazing but my favorite part of it all was meeting new people and now I have a new best friend. I will always remember this trip for the rest of my life because this experience was like no other!
Hi, I am Alicia Zappia, from Rancho Bernardo, CA, and I am 14 years old. I started to compete in the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run when I was 12. I made it all the way to the Team Championship at Petco Park but came in second place. When Pitch, Hit & Run came around again the following year I didn't hear about it until it was too late to sign up. I was pretty devastated because I really enjoyed the competition and the new people you see and meet! I knew that this year would be my last year because I'm 14 and I had to prepare myself with practicing and a lot of hard work.
I competed in the Valley Center (CA) Local Competition. When I first got there I was super nervous because I was going against really good girls. I got six out of six in the pitching and I was really surprised I did so well. I got first place in hitting and found out I was moving on to the Sectional portion which is held in Escondido (CA). After that level, I found out I made it to the Team Championship again. I knew that it was going to be just as challenging as last time.
When I got there I met my fellow competitors and we all became friends instantly! First we did the pitching part and I got five out of six which I was really proud about and for hitting I didn't do that great. When it was time to announce the placing I was super nervous I was shaking, and when he (PHR coordinator) said my name for first place it was the best feeling ever! Later that day for the Padres game, they took the 1st place winners and put us on the big screen and mentioned our names, it was pretty amazing.
I didn't know I made it to the National Finals until my friend's mom sent me a message saying "Congratulations Alicia, we are so proud of you". It was hard to believe it at first and when I checked the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run Facebook page and saw my name, it was the best day of my life! A few days later a Padres representative called my grandpa and gave us free tickets to the game so they could put me on the big screen and congratulate me in front of everyone. It was truly an honor and really nice of them to do that for me.
I am super excited to be able to go to the National Finals in Minnesota, especially being able to go on an airplane to compete over 1,530 miles away from me! I'm mostly looking forward to meeting new people from around the US and just being able to compete will just be such a honor.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.