Connellsville teen to compete in MLB Pitch, Hit & Run finals
For the past several years, local residents have come to appreciate the skill set that Connellsville's Madison Wiltrout possesses in baseball and softball.
This year, the country will get to see it on display in the Big Apple.
Wiltrout, 14, has been named one of 24 finalists in the Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run competition. She will compete in the finals at 3 p.m. July 15 as part of MLB All-Star Week at Citi Field in New York City.
Wiltrout learned that she had qualified for the finals when her name was announced Sunday during an “MLB Tonight” telecast on MLB Network.
“I was jumping up and down, and I was so surprised,” Wiltrout said.
“I just couldn't believe it. I was completely surprised because I didn't know what kind of score I had.”
To qualify, Wiltrout had to make it through three rounds of competition. Wiltrout took first place in the 13- and 14-year-old girls softball division at her home field at Bullskin Little League, then followed up with a first-place showing at a competition in White Oak.
Her next stop was PNC Park, where she finished as the top competitor again.
More than 600,000 youths participated in more than 4,000 competitions across North America.
The top three participants nationwide from each age category were selected to attend the finals. Wiltrout's score was good enough to earn her one of those spots.
“My expectation is to win it,” Wiltrout said in regards to the finals. “That's what I want to do.”
In addition to competing at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, Wiltrout also will get to shag fly balls at the MLB Home Run Derby on July 15. As an added perk, she'll get to attend the 84th All-Star Game on July 16.
“This is truly a chance of a lifetime,” said Madison's mother, Amy Wiltrout.
“When they announced her name on the MLB Network, it was one of the happiest moments I have seen her experience.”
Wiltrout has come close to qualifying for the finals on a number of occasions. She began competing in the Pitch, Hit & Run events when she was 7 years old.
When she first began competing, the event was limited to baseball.
Softball was added when Wiltrout was 10. She qualified to compete at PNC Park seven times and finished in first on six occasions.
Prior to this year, her best showing nationally was eighth place.
Players are judged on their speed, accuracy and power in running, pitching and hitting drills.
“It's a big accomplishment for me,” Wiltrout said, adding that she is proud to represent her area. She also thanked everyone who worked with her to help her reach this level.
Wiltrout's focus will be on winning, but she has other goals in mind as well.
“I'm hoping to meet Andrew McCutchen,” Wiltrout said, noting that the Pirates' McCutchen is her favorite player.
“He's a center fielder, and I play center field, and I just love how he plays.”
Wiltrout will be joined at the All-Star festivities by her parents, Amy and Tom; brother, Matthew; grandmother, Carol Swink; and aunt, Bethany Swink.
Wiltrout was a standout baseball player in the Bullskin Little League, and she is spending this summer playing softball in the outfield for the Steel City Cyclones travel team. Wiltrout will be entering her freshman year at Connellsville High School.
She plans to play several sports for the Falcons, including basketball, soccer and possibly track.
In addition to sports, Wiltrout also enjoys listening to music, singing and baking.
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.