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2014-07-10

Harp represents Astros at national pitch, hit, run competition

By Sandy Jennings BCC Contributor

Sandy Jennings Photography
Casey Harp trades off baseballs for apples at Love Creek Orchards where he works to earn money for his upcoming trip to Minneapolis where he will compete in a national pitch, hit and run competition. A donation jar sits at the counter of the Apple Store in Medina.



From the time he was two, the only time Casey Harp would put down his bat and come inside was to watch his favorite MLB team - the Houston Astros. Mesmerized in front of the TV as a toddler, Harp dreamed of one day walking onto the ball field at Minute Maid Park. Twelve years later, that dream came true when Harp won the Regional Pitch, Hit and Run competition ranking him in the top three (boys 13-14) in the nation and sending him to the national competition in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the MLB All-Star game on July 14.
"I'm really excited and I keep thinking - am I dreaming all of this?" Harp said in response to his championship in Houston and his upcoming trip to the MLB All-Star game. "The Astros are my favorite team and I thought even if I don't make it past sectionals, I'll still be happy because I'm playing on the same field Craig Biggio played on."
Harp's win at Houston on June 7 placed him in the top 30, but he would not find out until June 29 if he was ranked in the top three in the nation. The MLB Network, MLB Tonight, broadcast the results live.
"We were all sitting in front of the TV waiting for the results when I saw my name pop up on the bottom of the screen," Harp said. "Everyone started screaming before they even announced it."
Harp celebrated the news with parents Mark and Carolyn LaCour, who immediately started making plans for the journey to Minneapolis.
"The Bandera Little League Board of Directors have been so supportive of Casey and his endeavors," Carolyn LaCour said. "We are so appreciative of True Value in Medina, Chicken Coop, Bandera Nail Salon, Ink Hoggs Tattoos, Snowflakes and the Longhorn Saloon for making donations on Casey's behalf."
Event sponsor Scott's Turf pays for travel and some expenses for the athlete and one parent; outside donations will help pay for Casey's dad to travel also.
"I'm so proud of Casey," Mark LaCour said. "I've coached him since he was five and I've never seen someone work so hard training for a sport. His goal is to play baseball at Rice University."
The PHR competition started with over 600,000 boys and girls from across the nation vying for one of the 24 spots at nationals. There are three spots (boys and girls) for each age division 8-10, 11-12 and 13-14. Harp is one of three national finalists for the 13-14 bracket.
The contest consists of pitching, with six chances, at a strike zone target. Harp has consistently hit the target all six times. The running part of the contest consists of being timed running from behind second to home (160 feet), with only one run. Harp's PR for this event is 7.12 seconds. The final contest consists of three hits off of a tee, with each hit being measured for its length and for its proximity to a straight line from the plate through second base. Harp's PR in this event is 327 feet.
Harp will compete on July 14, 2-4 pm, with coverage on MLB Tonight and final results announced at the MLB All-Star game the following night.
"I'm most excited about having Sunday brunch with the players and shagging balls for them (MLB all-stars) at the home run derby on Monday," Harp said. "I'm hoping José Altuve and George Springer [from the Astros] make the team."
If any Astros players are chosen for the all-star game, Harp will get to "hang out" with them during the festivities.
After the national competition, Harp and his family will be traveling to Houston where the Astros will recognize Harp on the field before their game on August 2 at Minute Maid Park.