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Local kids make All-Star bids in Pitch, Hit and Run

ARLINGTON -- Amy Jensen has been here before, waiting for weeks, hoping she'll hear her name.

The Texas Rangers winner of the 13-14-year-old girls division in Major League Baseball's Pitch, Hit and Run event, sponsored by Scott's, last year, Jensen waited on edge hoping she'd be one of the top three competitors in her group bound for the All-Star Game.

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The way the Pitch, Hit and Run competition works is there are eight groups. For each age group -- 7-8-year-olds, 9-10-year-olds, 11-12-year-olds and 13-14-year-olds -- there are both boys and girls. They start at the local level, then advance to sectionals after winning locally, and then fight to represent their local MLB team. The kids with the most total points in pitching, hitting and running competitions win for their local MLB team. Among them, the top three finishers in each age group and gender among all 30 teams throughout the country, get to compete during the All-Star weekend.

Jensen won for the Rangers last year in her group, but because she wasn't one of the top three among all 30 teams, she didn't get a shot at the All-Star game.

But now, she's back for another try. And with another victory on Sunday for the Rangers, she's right on track, just like last year. She'll have to wait until the end of June to find out if she's made it to Minneapolis or not.

"Last year, she didn't do very well on her pitches," her father Richard said. "This year, she did fantastic on her pitches ... she's dedicated and she's a big-time softball player. She really loves it."

Pitching is just one of the three tasks in which participants compete. On Sunday, due to rain, the participants did the running contest on the field -- running around three cones -- as well as the batting portion, where they hit off of a tee. But pitching was moved to the main concourse area of Globe Life Park so that the participants could stay dry. Each threw toward a target that had the strike zone identified on it.

Weston Thomas, an 8-year-old out of Piedmont, Okla., who won his division for the Rangers on Sunday, said that he couldn't believe it when he found out he'd even made it to Sunday's round for the opportunity to potentially go to All-Star weekend with a victory.

"Well I was grumpy that day. I had just got home from school and I felt bad from my basketball practice," Thomas said. "My dad was like, 'Oh, we're going to go home. We have a surprise.'''

His sister prematurely broke the news before he could listen to the message on his answering machine, and immediately the celebration began.

"She said this: 'Ah, Weston, you're going to Texas,'" Thomas said. "I go, 'What? ... Yay!'"

Thomas said he thought his strongest suit was hitting, and that despite the rain, he enjoyed Sunday's competition.

One contestant, 8-year-old Chase Tengler went even farther.

"I'm feeling like a million bucks," he said.

Jensen said he's glad his daughter has participated in the competition, and that whether or not she makes it to the All-Star Game this year, he's thankful she's done it the past two seasons.

"I think it's fantastic. I think it's very important," Jensen said. "I think its very, very important and I encourage every kid to go out and participate in this."

Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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