WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — A softball slugger from Iowa and a baseball player from Florida won the inaugural Little League Home Run Derby on Saturday at the Little League World Series.
Everest Ouellette of Palm Harbor, Florida, topped in the baseball competition after he hit his 15th home run — the one that sealed the victory — in walk-off fashion. He edged Nate Hawton-Henley of Oakton, Virginia, who had a few dozen family and friends from his hometown in attendance.
“Everest was incredible,” said ESPN analyst and former big leaguer Mark Teixeira, who was an honorary coach for the event. “He really won it because of the last minute there of the final round. When he gets on, you can see a lot of home runs in a row.”
Everest and Nate both advanced from the East Regional, which was held at SunTrust Park in Atlanta, and have gotten to know each other well throughout their journeys to Williamsport.
“(Nate) is very competitive,” Everest said. “He’s one of my best friends of the tournament and he’s just super friendly and nice.”
Everest hit a total of 37 home runs throughout all three rounds.
Aubrey Clark of Johnston, Iowa, beat Jeylene Joza of Jersey City, New Jersey, in a tiebreaker in the championship round of the softball bracket.
Even though Aubrey admitted afterward that she got nervous as the two-minute clock wound down in each round, she was aided a couple of times by late home runs to advance to the championship round, where she defeated Jeylene.
“Once I got my first (home run), that’s when I started to feel not as much pressure,” Aubrey said. “When I know that it’s my last pitch, I just put a lot more into it.”
Aubrey finished with 12 total home runs, including the winning home run that came on her final swing in the tiebreaker of the championship. But she almost didn’t get that far.
In the first round of the competition, she hit a home run on her final swing in the tiebreaker of the round just to move on to the second round.
“It feels great,” Aubrey said. “I never thought I would be able to come here.”
Added to the opening weekend of Little League World Series to generate a little buzz and expand the number of players exposed to LLWS atmosphere, a few hundred fans gathered and cheered each home run that sailed over pink fences set up in the outfield. The event was held at Bowman Field in downtown Williamsport, where the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates will play in the Little League Classic on Sunday night.