By Curtis Pulliam
Nicolina Marianne Pezzone is a busy girl.
From dance classes to playing on two softball teams, she is always staying active during the summer months.
“Very rarely was there a conflict [between the teams], said Lindy Pezzone, Nicolina’s father. “There was more so a conflict with dance.”
This summer, Nicolina is playing in the Struthers recreational league and with the Boardman Spartans travel team.
She started playing baseball when she was 6, and loves to pitch.
“Jennie Finch (is my favorite player),” Nicolina said.
In the off-season, she trains at Sluggers with pitching coach Laura Amero.
“This is her first year pitching,” Lindy said. “She did very well her first year out.”
Despite the grueling schedule for a soon-to-be fifth grader, she has no worries going into Monday’s competition for the Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run National Finals taking place at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn.
She wasn’t nervous when she participated in the local, sectional and team events to qualify.
“I knew I could do it,” said Pezzone, 10, of Struthers.
In every level of the Pitch, Hit, and Run events, Nicolina took first place.
The pitching part consists of throwing six baseballs from 35 feet away that are worth 75 points each. The contestants then hit off of a tee and be given points for distance and accuracy. For the running, the kids were timed from second base to home plate and received points based on their time. The points from the three activities are then totaled up for each person.
The local and sectional contests were held in Struthers while the team events were held at each of the 30 major league ballparks around the country. Pezzone participated at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Pezzone is one of three finalists nationally in the 9-10 girls division. She will be representing the Cleveland Indians in the contest.
Nicolina and the rest of the Pezzone family even got to hear and see her name on national television via the MLB Network on June 29.
“I couldn’t see,” Nicolina said. “[My father] got in the way.”
Pezzone is the first girl to represent the Indians, since the contest became open to girls in 2008.
Lindy will be traveling with her to Target Field, an all-expenses paid trip to the home of the Twins.
“It’s very exciting,” said Lindy. “It’s something that I have always wanted to do, go to a Major League Baseball All-Star game.”
Nicolina’s mom, Rhonda, who will not be making the trip is excited for her daughter.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for her,” Rhonda said. “You don’t know if you’ll get that chance again. It’s exciting.”
Besides the contest, Nicolina is looking forward to enjoying her time at the American Girl Doll store at the Mall of America and other new experiences.
“Going on a plane for the first time (will be fun),” Nicolina said.
Nicolina has two younger brothers, Olindo and Angelo.