06/20/09 4:08 PM ET
Girl makes Rox Pitch, Hit & Run history
Laumbach a pioneer by winning 11-12-year-old division
By Cheng Sio / MLB.com
The 12 year-old from Springer, N.M., won in the 11-12-year-old age division and became the first girl in the competition's 13-year history to win the team championship in any age group.
"It's like proving a point that girls can do it," Laumbach said.
When Laumbach entered the competition last year, she advanced past the local level and into the sectional level. During her experience, Laumbach's father, Fidel Laumbach, said she got teased by some of the boys in the competition for being a girl.
"She would kind of sit around," Fidel Laumbach, 44, said. "And they would look at her and say [to each other], 'You're going to get beat by a girl.' Then Kyra steps up to the plate and wails that ball in there. Then she will play catch with some of the other players and she will burn them out."
The right arm of Kyra Laumbach may be her most eye-popping attribute. In the pitching portion of the competition, she not only threw hard, but her pitches were pounding the strike zone.
Kyra Laumbach isn't a one-sport fluke either. According to her father, she likes to play basketball as well.
"She's pretty tough in basketball," Fidel Laumbach said. "She will drive and she will dominate in basketball."
While Laumbach was rewriting the record books, Dante Sparaco's mother was in tears at her son's win in the 9-10-year-old age division.
"I can't say how proud I am," Jennifer Sparaco, 35, of Raton, N.M., said. "He has a lot of talent and a lot of heart."
Dante Sparaco, 10, already had the talent because his mother was an All-State softball player in Maine, but heart and work ethic was what he used every day for two weeks leading up to Saturday's win.
When Dante Sparaco discovered he was in the team championship, he woke up at 6:30 a.m. every day and practiced for about an hour on his throwing and hitting. But even all that practice couldn't prepare him for what he was about to face.
"It was nerve-racking," Dante Sparaco said about Saturday. "There's a bunch of people and you just try to do your best out there."
His best was good enough to land him the biggest baseball award he's ever received.
"I've never got first place in this stage," Dante Sparaco said. "It's pretty cool."
Trevor Thompson of Stratton, Colo., won in the 13-14-year-old age division, and Bryce Schmuhl of Castle Rock, Colo., was the winner in the 7-8-year-old age division. Two years ago, Thompson went to the National Finals at the 2007 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in San Francisco's AT&T Park. All four winners will await word on whether they advanced to the National Finals hosted at St. Louis' Busch Stadium during this year's MLB All-Star Game on July 12-14. The top three winners of each age group from all 30 MLB teams will head to the National Finals.
The Pitch, Hit & Run is a baseball skills competition that provides boys and girls, ages 7 to 14, the opportunity to showcase their pitching, hitting and running abilities. The competition is intended to encourage youth participation and emphasize the fun element of baseball.
The Pitch, Hit & Run competition has been in existence since 1997. This year, approximately 600,000 children across the country competed in over 4,000 competitions at the local level. The competition's most famous participants include third baseman Bobby Borchering, the D-backs' 2009 first-round Draft pick (No. 16 overall) from Bishop Verot (Fla.) High School, and first baseman Eric Hosmer, the Royals' 2008 first-round draft pick (No. 3 overall) from Amrican Heritage (Fla.) High School.
Cheng Sio is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.