12U HOME RUN PRELIMINARY ROUND
Blake Mitchell, Derek Hernandez Blast 18 Homeruns Each on Way to Final
The four finalists of the 12U division of the 2016 International Power Showcase were decided on Saturday afternoon at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, the home of the Texas Rangers. Blake Mitchell, Derek Hernandez and Nehomar Ochoa advanced in Sunday’s finals as the top three homerun hitters, and Nic Frink earned the wild card spot with the longest home run of the round (374’).
Frink posted one of the most thunderous performances as the first double-digit homerun hitter of the day as the 14th hitter. Representing the state of Maine, he reached the 374-foot mark twice in his session and hit three-straight over 300 feet. With just one out remaining, Frink hit his 10th of the afternoon.
“I was struggling at first, but I changed my stance in the middle, stuck with it and put 10 out,” said Frink on hitting the longest balls of the round.
Mitchell put together an 18-homerun performance as the 24th hitter of the day, hitting five straight with 10 outs to pass Frink on the leaderboard. Hernandez gave Mitchell company atop the leaderboard just four batters later, hitting 10 homeruns before he recorded a fourth out. One of 20 Texas sluggers, he hit his 18th with two outs remaining in the round.
“I just tried to stay calm and stay focused and try my best,” said Hernandez on his performance.
When asked what it meant to be hitting in the same box as Ranger greats, Mitchell said “it feels awesome, because you know your role model hits in that box.”
Ochoa, who hit between Mitchell and Hernandez, started with just two blasts in his first seven outs before hitting eight straight homeruns to join the double-digit club. His eight consecutive bombs stood as the longest streak among the 12U division.
“I just looked up at that board, and said ‘I just got to hit.’,” Ochoa said on getting in a routine on his consecutive streak.
Among 21 hitters who hit a ball over the fence, they combined for 149 homeruns in the round, led by 59 from the group’s finalists. There were seven individuals who finished in double-digits.
With a large amount of Texas hitters, there was a good crowd for the first preliminary round. However, some parents traveled a good distance to come see their kids hit in a major-league ballpark, such as Eddie Copper’s parents. The Coppers hail from the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.
“I can’t be any prouder of him. He’s awesome. He works hard every day. He deserves everything he’s getting,” said his father Ed Copper on making the trip to see his son on this stage. Eddie Copper hit nine homeruns, falling just short of advancing to the final round.