Beating the odds is something Elizabeth Peery is pretty good at doing.
Her mom, Katie Peery, tells a story about how an umpire stopped a softball game when her daughter came to the plate.
The umpire thought Elizabeth was wearing a cell phone attached to her arm, which of course, is not permitted.
However, it wasn’t a cellphone on her waist. As Elizabeth explained, it was her glucose monitor and insulin pump.
To say the least the umpire was a little embarrassed, Katie said, and Elizabeth continued her at-bat.
Since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2017, almost-13-year-old Elizabeth continues to excel at most things she does. She’s an honor student at View Ridge Middle School in Ridgefield. She pitches for her traveling softball team.
Oh, and she made the national finals of the Major League Baseball Pitch Hit & Run competition at the upcoming MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland.
“I knew I had it in me,” said Elizabeth, who had tried the competition four years ago. “I didn’t make it then because I wasn’t as good as I am now.”
Elizabeth, who turns 13 in July, is a pitcher for the Shockwave U14 softball team. She also plays third base and some outfield. And really enjoys hitting.
All of which comes in handy when Pitch Hit & Run requires throwing balls into a designated strike zone, hitting a ball off a tee for distance and running as fast as you can from second base to home.
As for beating the odds? Just do those three skills better than anyone in your age group across the nation and you get a trip to the All-Star Game.
(Last year, some 625,000 kids ages 7-14 took part in 4,500 competitions, with the top three in four age groups advancing to the national finals.)
Elizabeth is competing in the 11-12 softball division (she just made the age cutoff for that group). She started by winning a local competition hosted by Ridgefield Little League. She then won a sectional at the Hillsboro Hops’ Ron Tonkin Stadium to get a trip to T-Mobile Park in Seattle for the Mariners team final.
That Sunday would be her first major-league game experience.
“That was awesome,” she said of warming up for the competition on the same field the Mariners had just beaten the Baltimore Orioles 13-3. “I was nervous in the beginning, but then it started ramping up.”
First up was hitting.
“I love my hitting,” Elizabeth said. “I tried my best and thought I hit as best as I possibly could and that made me feel good.”
It wouldn’t be until the next day Elizabeth found out she finished in the top three in the nation in her age group division and was booked to Cleveland, along with her mom.
Diabetes has not slowed Elizabeth down one bit.
Katie Peery said it wasn’t until two years ago when Elizabeth complained of a sore leg and then an eventual trip to the emergency room that Elizabeth’s condition was discovered.
“We had no clue,” said Katie, who added she got a sudden crash course in diabetes care and treatment. “She’s adjusted well as she’s a take-charge kind-of-girl. And softball keeps her grounded.”
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas isn’t making insulin or very little. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1.
Elizabeth wears a monitor at all times, but said she sometimes takes it off during games.
“It still monitors, so I’m safe,” Elizabeth explained.
Katie can monitor Elizabeth’s glucose levels from an app on her phone. It comes in handy when Elizabeth is playing softball because physical activity will cause blood sugar to drop.
“From the bleachers I can say: ‘Eat a snack!’ ” Katie said. “She always has sugar available.”
Elizabeth dreams of someday playing college softball.
“I love to watch college softball and watch coaches coach and how they coach and how the players train,” she said. “I want to train like them and be just like them someday. I would just love that.”
In addition to the Pitch Hit & Run finals on July 6, Elizabeth will get to attend All-Star Game batting practice, the celebrity softball game (featuring one of Elizabeth’s favorites in pitcher Jennie Finch), the Futures Game, along with concerts held in connection with the game, and a welcome dinner.
Of course if she were to win, she might even get an introduction during the All-Star Game itself.
Elizabeth would like more than anything to meet a couple of All-Stars.
“Javier Baez (of the Chicago Cubs) or Aaron Judge (of the New York Yankees),” she said. “I’d be very excited to maybe meet one of them.”
Odds are, anything is possible when shooting for the stars.
The Rules for Pitch Hit & Run
Pitch: Six throws, overhand or underhand, from 35 feet for softball or 45 feet for baseball to hit the strike zone target. Each “strike” worth 75 points.
Hit: Three swings at a ball on a tee with the longest hit counting toward overall score.
Run: Timed run from second base to home (120 feet), touching third base and home plate. No sliding!
PHR Hall of Fame
Current San Diego Padres infielder Eric Hosmer, 1998 champion
Current Seattle Mariners infielder J.P. Crawford, 2005 champion