With music blaring from loudspeakers and the ping of metal bats echoing across Ken Moore Field at Douglas Freeman High School, Richmond-area American Legion posts held their inaugural Home Run Derby Friday night.
Post 175’s Trey Karnes and 137’s David Coppedge met in the final, with the top-seeded Karnes taking home the title. Karnes, now a rising sophomore at Hampden-Sydney, attended Lee-Davis, and Coppedge — who is committed to play at UVA — goes to Clover Hill.
Karnes said this was his first time competing in a home run derby.
“I’ve never been in a home run derby, this was a great experience, I was looking forward to it all week,” Karnes said. “I grew up watching it as a kid and it’s just something you’ve always wanted to do, it’s fun.”
Coppedge said he’d participated in a couple of prior home run derbies, and won one at the 11U age level.
“This is definitely the most fun one I’ve been a part of,” Coppedge said.
Kids in the 10 to 14 age group shagged fly balls in the outfield, and ate ice cream while relaying the score to coaches on the field and in the press box.
Eight batters divided into seeds and competing in head-to-head matchups were awarded points for hitting distance markers in the outfield. Home runs were worth four points.
Trevor Scott Queensbery, one of the children in the outfield, said he’d always wanted to see what it was like shagging fly balls for a home run derby. Unlike most of the fielders, though, he’s not a fan of ice cream, and stayed in the outfield the whole time.
“It was pretty cool, I’ve always watched the MLB home run derby and wanted to be one of the kids shagging balls,” Queensbery said. “I got to get a taste of what that’s like tonight.”
Coppedge’s dog, Morra, tried to help the kids shag fly balls. But a line drive down the left field line came a little too close for comfort, and she laid down for the remainder of the contest.
Ethan Williams and Drew Camp, the four and five seeds, respectively, ended their first-round matchup tied at 13 points. A swing-off ensued, and Williams advanced in the evening’s tightest contest.
Coppedge had the evening’s highest score with 20 points in his semifinal matchup with James River’s Alex Balisteri.
But Karnes bested him in the final, finding a groove after requesting Foreigner’s “Juke Box Hero” be played on the loudspeakers.
Post 125 coach Davis Hewett said the evening, part of the American Legion All-Star weekend, was designed to bolster community engagement with local legion teams. The All-Star game will be Saturday at 7 p.m. at Douglas Freeman.