Olivia King got to start her day July 15 shopping the shops and riding the rides at the Mall of America. What better way for a 10-year-old girl to celebrate a national championship in the Twin Cities?
Olivia, the daughter of David King of Lee’s Summit and Kari Gartman, is the 9-10 Year Old Girls Division champion in Major League Baseball’s Pitch, Hit & Run competition, held July 14 as part of the All-Star Game festivities at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Olivia, a fifth-grader next fall at Richardson Elementary School, bested two other girls who advanced through local, sectional and team competitions to make it to the finals. She and the 23 other boys and girls finalists in four different age groups threw at a strike-zone sized target, hit a ball off a tee and ran from second base to home plate.
“We found out one girl from Arizona had made it to nationals two other years, so Olivia was thinking she might beat me,” David King said. “I told her you don’t go into it that way. It’s a one-time deal where anything can happen.”
King and Olivia both felt better after five of her six throws with a softball hit the target, and the Arizona girl only hit on three. Olivia’s longest hit sailed 120 feet and she covered the 120-foot distance (for girls) from second to home faster than the other two in 8.27 seconds.
“It came down to the last event, and she’s always been solid at that,” King said. “I’ve never seen anybody her age outrun her. So I felt pretty good about it.”
Olivia and the other champions got to see themselves on Target Field’s big scoreboard afterward and had their names announced during the Home Run Derby later that evening. She and the other finalists also took turns shagging balls in the outfield during the derby, which got her some national TV time.
“She got out on the field a few times,” King said. “She got two balls, and wrestled one away from a boy so that was kind of cool.”
The Kings also got to take in the Fan Fest, where Olivia received some hitting tips from Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. After their trip to the mall, they took part in an awards ceremony July 15 and, of course, watched the All-Star Game before heading home early the next day.
“It was a great experience,” King said.