Grady excels in MLB event

Published 10:06 pm Friday, June 13, 2014

The bar has been set pretty high for Clay Grady as the youngest member of a Suffolk family rich in baseball talent, but somehow the 10-year-old has still managed to impress.

In Major League Baseball’s Pitch, Hit and Run event designed to get youth involved in the sport, he recently won the boys’ 9- and 10-year-old age division at the team championship level in Washington at Nationals Park.

Clay Grady shows off his first-place award in the boys' 9- and 10-year-old age division in the team championship level of Major League Baseball's Pitch, Hit and Run event.

Clay Grady shows off his first-place award in the boys’ 9- and 10-year-old age division in the team championship level of Major League Baseball’s Pitch, Hit and Run event.

This means he is now among the select group of 30 youths in his division nationwide with the chance to compete in the national finals, taking place the week of the MLB All-Star Game in Minneapolis, Minn. The top three scorers in that select group will earn the all-expenses-paid trip to All-Star Weekend.

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Regarding his success against many other kids in the Pitch, Hit and Run event, Grady said, “It feels pretty good. I know that I’m good at the sport.”

That last statement alludes to one of his strengths that has served him well in the competition, which his father, David Grady, mentioned.

“We’re very proud of him,” David Grady said. “The thing about Clay is that he doesn’t get rattled or nervous.”

David Grady said as the pitching competition kicked off during the Washington team championship, just being in the MLB ballpark of the Washington Nationals had a lot of the youths nervous.

Clay and the two other competitors in his division who had advanced from sectionals took six throws from 45 feet, needing to hit 17-by-30-inch targets reflecting a standard strike zone.

“He hit all six targets,” David Grady said of his son. “He’s got ice running through his veins at 10.”

Clay had never been on an MLB field before. Summing up his favorite thing about the Pitch, Hit and Run competition thus far, he said, “I liked being on the field the most,” but before saying that, he confirmed he was not nervous playing on it. “I was pretty confident,” he said.

An early start in the sport has likely helped.

“Clay has played baseball since he was 3,” said his mother, Tracy Grady. “He started at SYAA, and right now, he plays with the Virginia Warriors with his brother.”

Both Clay and his brother, 12-year-old Ben Grady, have a good role model and a tough act to follow in big brother Jake Grady, who was a two-time first team all-state talent for Nansemond-Suffolk Academy.

Clay advanced out of the local level of the PHR event as the overall 9-10 boys’ winner with 754 points in April. He won his division in sectionals at Harbor Park against about 25-30 youths with a score of 954.

After pitching in Washington, he was judged for his distance and accuracy hitting off a tee and then for his speed in running the equivalent of a Major League double. He produced a winning total of 1042 points.

Clay will find out if he is among the top three on June 29.