ST. PETERSBERG, Fla. -

Alayna Adams was set to throw out the first pitch at the Tampa Bay Rays game at Tropicana Field Thursday night. But that would not be the most exciting part of her night.

Before her big moment, the 9-year-old's father, Army Lt. Col. Will Adams, gave words of encouragement via satellite from Afghanistan.  He had been stationed overseas for the better part of two years.

Following Alayna's toss, Adams revealed he was the catcher by taking off his mask.

The big surprise was a collaborative effort by the United Service Organizations, Tampa Bay Rays, and Alayna's elementary school.

The Tampa Bay Times reports the third grader's principal called a meeting with both Alayna and her mother. Neither of them knew why. At that meeting, they were told they were selected from a group of military families to throw out the first pitch.

Lt. Col. Will Adams had arrived home the day before and even stayed in a hotel.

"That was the hardest part," he said later. "Being back home and not being able to see them," he told the Tampa Bay Times.

The Red Sox beat the Rays, 4-1. It's safe to say the Adams' won.