Viking Tries: Home Run Derby


Baseball: America’s pastime. The sweet smells of freshly cut grass, the crisp crack of a bat, and the smooth pop of the glove are just some of the things that make baseball great. It’s quite hard to think of baseball without hitting. Often referred to as the most challenging feat in all of sports, hitting the ball is directly tied to success in the overall game. A popular way for hitters to assess their power hitting ability is through Home Run Derbies, where they compete for who can hit the most balls over the fence. Paly baseball season is right around the corner, so the Viking staff decided to test our own hitting abilities by way of our own Home Run Derby. 

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, we gathered eight Viking members at Hoover Park to take part in the Derby: sophomores Trey Collins and Josie Vogel, and seniors Anika Chang, David Gormley, Sophia Cummings, Jake Foster, Sofia Leva, and Roei Ziv. We set up a head-to-head style tournament with quarterfinals, semifinals, and a final round matchup to determine the champion. Each batter got unlimited pitches to score as many points as possible before they reach eight “outs.” While homeruns obviously counted as points, we adapted the rules so that hard hit balls that approached the fence counted as well. If a point was not gained, the hitter received an out. If, after eight outs, the two competitors were tied, a swing off ensued where whoever gained more points in five pitches would advance to the next round. To keep the competition fair, no current baseball players were allowed to compete. 

Roei Ziv

The first quarterfinal matchup between Collins and Foster, two former baseball players, was expected to be an explosive contest. Collins got out to a hot start with three points, forcing Foster to step up and perform. However, despite back to back moonshots, he failed to defeat Collins.

“I really underestimated Trey’s ability,” Foster said. “As a former baseball player, I thought I had it in the bag.” 

The next matchup was supposed to be between Ziv and Viking EIC Hailey Callan. After Ziv claimed that facing Callan would be like facing his little brother due to her coordination, he proceeded to gain three points. Callan then stepped up to the plate, and to all of our great surprise, missed three balls in a row and called for Leva to step in. In the face of uncertainty, Leva defeated all odds and tied Ziv with three points. In the following swing off, Ziv barely prevailed to advance. After a close call with elimination, he felt like he got his bell rung.

“It’s been so long since I’ve played baseball that I got a little bit too confident before I even took a swing,” Ziv said. 

In the third quarterfinal contest, Vogel defeated Cummings two points to one to advance to the semifinals. The final matchup of the first round, between Gormley and Chang, was perhaps the most entertaining. Prior to the contest, Chang informed everyone that she hadn’t played baseball in 16 years, a curious statement from the 17-year old. Gormley, on the other hand, had a different mindset. 

“I was excited to have some fun and shake off the five years of rust that has accumulated since I last played Little League,” he said. 

Gormley’s positive mindset did not immediately pay off though, as he and Chang tied with two points to force the second swing off of the first round. Luckily for Gormley, Chang’s hitting faltered out and he was able to squeak by and advance.

The semifinal round brought forth more exciting competition. The first contest, between Collins and Ziv, was perhaps the best matchup we’d had yet. Collins continued to launch bombs, netting another three points in the round. Facing elimination, Ziv put up a strong fight, but ultimately fell short a point to his younger competition. 

Anika Chang and Sofia Leva

“I feel like I went out there and did my best and took care of what I could take care of,” Ziv said. “The rest was out of my hands.” 

The second semifinal matchup saw Vogel take on Gormely. Vogel, a soccer player, was considered an underdog heading into the derby, but impressed with her first round performance. Unfortunately, her one point was not enough to overcome several lasers hit by Gormley on his way to three points. 

“I went into the game with an open mindset and ended up having a lot of fun,” Vogel said. 

Next came the eagerly awaited final round between Collins and Gormley. Collins looked to continue his dominant day of power hitting, while Gormley was aiming to take down a competitor coming off of back to back upset wins. The round began with Gormley struggling a bit before settling in and launching balls for three points. Collins followed with similar troubles, struggling to hit the ball in the air. However, with two points on the board and one out remaining, Collins put a ball deep over the left field fence for the tie. The final swing off of the day was set. 

Ten total pitches to determine the winner. Five pitches per person. With a victory in sight, Collins stepped into the box and unloaded on two pitches for deep homeruns to gain two points. In response, Gormley hit a few liners with not quite enough distance before rolling a ground ball to end it. Game. Collins prevailed as Viking’s Home Run Derby champion, finishing the day with a total of 11 points. Despite losing after coming so close, Gormley still had a great time. 

“It was good to see all of the Viking members out here playing some good baseball and having fun,” he said. 

For Collins, the derby might not be his last time stepping on a baseball field. After his performance, he seemed to be seeking more. 

“I’m thinking there might be a spot for me on the baseball team,” Collins said. 

Whether or not he does in fact don the green and white, Collins can go on with the knowledge that he is the Home Run Derby champion of the Viking staff.