Published Fri, Apr 13, 2012 9:24 pm Dateline
Updated Sat, Apr 14, 2012 2:46 pm
The Ohio Softball program hosted its first ever Home Run Derby on a clear, sunny afternoon Friday at Ohio Softball Field. 30 student athletes, coaches and staff members participated as several branches of Ohio Athletics were in attendance.
“I was really impressed with the participation we had in the student athletes as well as the coaches and staff members. I was really excited to see everybody come out today and have a lot of fun with it,” said softball head coach Jodi Hermanek.
In the end, Ohio strength and conditioning assistant coach Zac Brouillette emerged victorious, winning the prized golden bat trophy after blasting an impressive 11 home runs in the final round.
“It’s probably about two pounds,” said Brouillette jokingly about his much sought after prize. “It’s pretty good looking, I think it will be a good piece of motivation in the weight room. We’ll hang it up in there.”
Brouillette received some nice competition from Ohio basketball’s David McKinley. The 5’9’’ junior showed a sweet swing, belting 10 home runs to open the final round of competition. However, Brouillette came out swinging for the fences and quickly matched McKinley’s 10 home runs with a towering shot over the center field scoreboard before sending a line drive over the left field wall for his 11th.
“I always tell my athletes to have confidence, so I was confident in my own abilities, and luckily when I saw the rest of the competition I think I had a pretty good shot,” said Brouillette.
Ohio field hockey coach Neil Macmillan, a dark horse contender coming in, showed off a rather unconventional swinging motion but managed to advance to the finals as well. Macmillan’s swing was influenced by a combination of field hockey and cricket mechanics and caused for some curious looks from the softball girls, but he sent an impressive seven balls deep in the final round, good for third place.
“I was pretty confident,” said Macmillan, who took several practice swings in the days leading up to the event. “I think my field hockey swing translates pretty well, so I was trying as well as I could. I felt I could hit a few, and I guess I was fortunate to be in the last three.”
Equipment manager Ryan McFann won the golden whiffle ball award for missing the most during the afternoon. The lefty repeatedly sent line drives directly into the pitcher’s safety net and popped out several times to run away with the award.
On the women’s side, Ohio soccer goalkeeper Mattie Liston brought plenty of charisma and unpredictability to the event. Liston shocked everyone and drew some laughter from the crowd by taking a lap around the bases after hitting her first home run in the first round. She then advanced to the finals where she emerged from the dugout wearing a full softball uniform with gloves and a helmet. Then, doing her best Babe Ruth impression, Liston sent a deep shot into left field toward the batting cages to clinch the win in the women’s derby.
“I’m feeling fantastic. I talked a lot of smack, so I was hopeful that I could get the win,” said Liston. “I think it was a crowd pleaser, which was my ultimate goal.”
Overall, 30 athletes and coaches competed representing field hockey, soccer, swimming and diving, basketball wrestling and Ohio athletics staff. The 30 participants belted over 50 dingers into the outfield parking lot. Hermanek believes this event was a tremendous success for the entire athletic department and would like to see this become an annual occurrence.
“I think it’s a fun event,” said Hermanek. With the camaraderie among student athletes and staff members, everybody said they had a great time coming out. So we’re just excited that we had the assistance from marketing to put this on and we had the participation.”