There was a packed house for the Dixie Youth World Series’ Home Run Derby Competition at Hillcrest Park on Friday afternoon.
Arkansas’ Cameron Jones took the crown by crushing eight homers in the final round.
“Cameron did a great job,” said his coach Dennis Schoen. “He was patient, he picked his pitches well, and he is as strong as any kid out here. We are very proud for him to represent Arkansas.”
Long Ball Derby
The derby consisted of two rounds, with the top-three home run hitters in the first round advancing into the second and final round. Moore County’s Majors team was represented well in the first round when Naythan Batalla blasted nine over the fence. Batalla went on to hit six more homers in the competition’s final round.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I was nervous at first, but settled down in the second round.”
Batalla was content with his performance, but admitted he could have been a little more selective at the plate. As for his teams’ chances in the tournament, he thought they would be tough competitors because of their strong defense and good pitching staff. Virginia’s Josh Jones was the other competitor to advance to the final round.
An estimated 600 people turned out to watch the derby. Twenty-four teams, representing 11 states, are on hand for the event that started Saturday and continues through Thursday at the four-field park located outside Carthage. (Saturday game results were not available by press time, but can be found at thepilot.com website.)
“We play baseball year-round in Georgia and don’t see this kind of turnout very often,” said Fernando Higgins, of Georgia.
One proud Texan grandmother, Pam Reece, drove 18 hours with her family to be here. She was shocked when she saw the ballpark’s facilities.
“Totally awesome,” she said. “These are some of the finest, most well-kept fields I’ve seen and, believe me, I go to a lot of them.”
In addition to the fields, several vendors’ tents gave families and players the opportunity to purchase new athletic apparel and equipment.
Volunteers from all over Moore County chipped in to help out with parking and several other duties.
“It’s a beautiful complex and the numerous amount of volunteers stepping up to the plate really seem to make it run smoothly,” said Randy Duffer, of Virginia.
He also mentioned how pleased he was for players to get the opportunity to create such fond memories in a tournament as high caliber as the Dixie Youth League World Series.
The World Series is really two tournaments going on simultaneously. The 12-team AAA tournament is for 9-10-year-old teams, while the Majors tournament is for 11-12-year-olds. All the games will be played at Hillcrest, so baseball fans can enjoy up to four games going on at the same time.
This afternoon’s games begin at 3:30 p.m. Daily admission is $7. A weeklong pass is available for $25.
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