Woodland Hills slugger to compete in home run derby benefit
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Over the next few days, Jake Jessell will be swinging for the fences.
Jessell, a sophomore at Woodland Hills, was selected to participate in the eighth annual Power Showcase home run derby Jan. 2-5 at Marlin Park in Miami, Fla., after being recommended by Dan Ninemire, the director of the All-American Baseball Center where Jessell has played since he was 8. He was chosen as a U.S.A. Underclassmen participant.
Hundreds of MLB draft prospects from around the world have participated in the event in past years, most notably Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in 2009.
“I was excited because I saw kids who are in the pros now did it, and I thought it would be something fun to do that people in the pros did just a couple of years ago,” Jessell said. “I feel honored because I'm the only (underclassman) from Pa. that's at the event.”
Each participant must partner with a local baseball fan through their local children's hospital and do fundraising before the event.
Jessell is partnered with Luccia Harpalani and the Down Syndrome Association of Pittsburgh. Harpalani, who has Down syndrome, is the 9-year-old sister of Maxx Harpalani, Jessell's teammate at the All-American Baseball Center for the past few years.
“Jake gave us a call and asked if that would be something we were OK with,” said Jennifer Harpalani, Luccia's mother. “He really wanted to partner with Luccia. It's a big deal for him and it's a privilege to be asked, and we felt pretty lucky that he asked Luccia to partner with him.”
The Jessell and Harpalani families have become close during their time with the All-American Baseball Center, and partnering with Luccia made perfect sense.
“That was basically a no brainer for us,” said Kasey Jessell, Jake's mother. “My daughter who's 10, every time we're down at All-American and Luccia is there, she's at her hip. We always see them.”
Although proceeds from the event will not go directly to Luccia, the Harpalani family was happy to help the Down Syndrome Association.
“Because Luccia has Down syndrome, and we had to use their services early on,” Jennifer Harpalani said. “We thought that would be a good way to give back.”
Jessell also was selected to play catcher and pitch one inning for Team USA in the Underclassmen All-World Classic Sunday afternoon, a game between the top 20 underclassmen born in the U.S. and the top 20 international players.
Although the Power Showcase starts Thursday, the home run derby takes place Friday, with the top three sluggers from each division advancing to the finals on Sunday. Participants are allowed to use a metal bat for 15 outs and must use a wood bat for five.
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.