Danica Gutierrez finished second in her softball age division at the national PH&R during MLB All-Star Week. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A 12-year-old softball player from Alterra finished second in the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run national championship during MLB All-Star Week in Cleveland.

Danica Gutierrez qualified for the competition by winning her softball age division in the Team Championship at Chase Field. “It was awesome,” said Danica, who plays club softball for the Gila River Chaos and some club baseball. She also plays for the Maricopa Wells Middle School softball team and Little League.

Flying to Ohio July 7 was her first time in an airplane, which caused some nerves. The next day, competitors were on the field in their PHR outfits ready to pitch, hit and run.

Danica is typically a pitcher but said her best PHR event was batting.

Sure enough, in the hitting event, she placed first, hitting the ball 151 feet for 302 points. In the running event, Danica placed second, running from second to home in 9.25 seconds for 375 points. The pitching portion of the competition was different from her previous experience, using a platform. All the competitors missed their first two throws at the target and hit their last four. Danica scored 300 points.

The results were later announced at the ballpark restaurant. “I had a gut-feeling Danica did not get enough points to win the event,” her father Daniel Gutierrez said.

Besides a nice, second-place plaque, Danica came back with great memories – from a celebrity softball game and futures baseball game, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, aquatic and science museums, paddling Lake Erie and even participating in the All-Star Home Run Derby.

“The different groups of kids were able to take the field and shag the balls,” Daniel Gutierrez said. “Danica got to be part of history as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went against Joc Pederson as she shagged the few balls that weren’t home runs. In the championship round, her group was in the bull pen; she almost got hit by a home-run ball.”

This was the third year she has competed in Pitch, Hit & Run.

To reach Nationals, Danica had to work through layers of competition. That started at the local tournament at Copper Sky. She was among the top three in her age group to advance to the Sectionals at Casa Grande. There, she qualified to play at the MLB Team Championship hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

Danica Gutierrez (circled in yellow) and the other PH&R finalists in Cleveland. Submitted photo
Danica Gutierrez in Cleveland. Submitted photo


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