While the best players in Major League Baseball participate in All-Star festivities next week, Orchard Park teen Abby Torgerson will be right there alongside them.
She is one of three finalists in the 13-14 age group in the Pitch, Hit and Run softball competition, and will compete Monday against the two others to determine the champion at Washington's Nationals Park, which is hosting the All-Star Game. Torgerson, 14, will be a freshman at Orchard Park High in the fall.
Torgerson, who has been playing softball since she was 5, said her mother Janie was the one that found out about the competition originally last year. It consists of three rounds (local, regional and one at an MLB ballpark) and three disciplines (pitch, hit and run).
More than 625,000 children from the United States and Canada attempted to qualify this year, including participants in all the age groups, according to a news release.
Last year, Torgerson made it to the team round and competed at Yankee Stadium but did not advance. This year, she competed at Citi Field and found out days later that she was among the national finalists.
"It's pretty amazing because it's the last year I can compete (because of her age)," she said. "It's cool that I did it finally."
For the pitch portion, the player stands 35 feet away from home plate and aims for the target. Then they test their speed by running from second base to home, and show off their strength in the batting portion.
Torgerson almost didn't even get a chance. Her travel team, the Western New York Sting, had a tournament she didn't want to miss.
“Talking to her mom and dad, this was a once in a lifetime chance and this is her last year. So she played in one game, drove an hour, did the next round, drove back and played in our next game," said Scott Zipp, her Sting coach. "That qualified her to go to Citi Field."
Torgerson, who also played on the modified team at Orchard Park last spring, plays mainly third base but also catcher and outfield if needed. In her 20 games with the Sting this season she has a .369 batting average, a .383 on base percentage and has eight stolen bases. She also plays field hockey in the fall.
Beyond the competition, Torgerson will have the chance to participate in other All-Star festivities, including the Fanfest and watching the Futures Game, legends and celebrity game and workout day. She will also catch the balls during the Home Run Derby, and hopes to get to meet as many players as she can.
"Anybody could be cool, but pretty much anybody from the Yankees," she said.