Two aspiring baseball stars will get a taste of the big leagues this weekend.
Brantford’s Abbey Dubecki and Austin Rhodes of Paris will be among 24 finalists in the Major League Baseball pitch, hit and run competition at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on Sunday.
The pair will join young players from across the province as they show off their baseball skills on the same field where the Toronto Blue Jays will square off against the Philadelphia Phillies later on Sunday afternoon.
Dubecki was the all-around champion and running champion in the ages seven and eight girls division at a May 5 skills competition, hosted by the Ted Beare Sports Experience Fund, in Brantford’s Mayfair Park.
At the same event, Rhodes was the best runner and tied for pitching champion in the ages 11 and 12 boys division.
The talented pair then won during a sectional competition at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Mary’s on May 27.
If they repeat their success in Toronto, Dubecki and Rhodes could compete in the overall North American championship at the 2012 Major League Baseball all-star game on July 10 in Kansas City.
Dubecki’s achievement came as a surprise, since the eight-year-old only started playing baseball this year.
“I just saw my brother doing it and then I felt like, ‘oh, that looks fun,’ and I decided to try it,” Dubecki said. “It’s really good. I like all the positions you can play and how you can hit and have lots of fun.”
Her mother, Lea, entered Dubecki in the competition before she had even played a game with her Brantford Minor Softball team, but the youngster proved to have natural skills on the diamond.
“It was a little hard at first, but now I’ve got the hang of it,” Dubecki said.
Rhodes, an 11-year-old Blue Jays fan, said he is “pretty excited” to play on a major league field. The hard-throwing peewee pitcher, who will have his parents and older brother cheering him on in the stands, has extra incentive to do well.
“If I win, I get to meet the Blue Jays and stand with them during the national anthem,” he said.
Dubecki has run the bases at Rogers Centre after Blue Jays games, but this will be her first time in the outfield and on the pitching mound.
“I think that’s pretty exciting,” she said. “I like how it’s also on Father’s Day, so that will be a treat for my dad.”
Dubecki’s goals for the competition and baseball in general are simple.
“To play the best I can and have lots of fun and just relax and take my time and do everything I can,” she said.