By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
It took two rain delays, one power outage, three fields and seven competitors from five Ellis County high schools to decide the winner of the second annual All-Ellis County All-Star Home Run Derby.
At the end of the two-and-a-half-hour ordeal Thursday evening, 2021 Waxahachie graduate and Navarro College-bound outfielder, Xavien Thompson outlasted the onslaught from Ethan Starks, a 2021 Life Waxahachie grad and Northern Oklahoma signee.
Thomspon needed every second of his championship round to force a swing-off with Starks, who posted home run totals of 12, 11 and 12 in his three two-minute timed rounds. As the unpredicted rain began to drive onto the field at the Waxahachie Sports Complex, Thompson blasted his 11th home run of the championship round with 11 seconds remaining on his two-minute clock.
He then connected on the first of his Pinnacle Bank Bonus Ball attempts to tie Starks in the championship round with 12 and force a swing-off. The blast to right-center field came in driving rain and behind the rowdy applause of well over 300 spectators.
Each of the seven competitors on the evening were given a two-minute round with one 30-second timeout. The field of seven dropped to four following the first round and then took the top two into the championship round.
The group was also afforded an opportunity to swing at the Pinnacle Bank Bonus Ball, which came at the end of each timed round and gave the competitors an opportunity to “swing for an out.” If a hitter connected with a home run (or three), it counted for that round and the next. Once the first “out” was made, the bonus ball round was over.
Thompson began the final round with five consecutive outs on a slightly larger field. The lefty then sent swing No. 6 and 9 over the right-center field fence. As he walked off of the field and Starks began to dig into the batter’s box, the five light standards went black — forcing the derby to shift for a third time.
Starks ultimately one-hopped the fence in straight-away centerfield and left-center field five times over his final 10 swings. He finished with 36 home runs (the most overall) and in second place, falling 2-0 to Thompson in the championship round swing off.
The field of seven also included Cristobal Garza (2021, Red Oak), Joshwa Jantes (2022, Red Oak), Anthony Mata (2021, Waxahachie), Kevin Rasberry (2021, Italy) and Ian Williams (2021, Palmer).
Jantes and Mata joined Thompson and Starks in round two. Mata slugged 10 home runs in the second round while Jantes hit nine to finish just behind the 11 parked by Thompson and Starks.
The first-ever All-Ellis County All-Star Week also included a countywide softball game (Wednesday, June 30 at Lady Indian Park) and a baseball game (Thursday, July 1 at Paul Richards Park). All three events were free to the public, thanks to generous community sponsors.
Additional event sponsors included: Home Run sponsors: Tow-Pro Wrecker Service, Ennis Door & Trim, Celebrity Bakery, Wayne Price Heat & Air, Pinnacle Bank – Midlothian, First Financial Bank, Waxahachie RBI Club and Synergy Roofing. Triple sponsors: Elevation Roofing and Restoration and Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson. Double sponsors: Wolverton Air, Matt Authier with Gateway Mortgage, Waxahachie Civic Center, Lance Wallace with Gateway Mortgage, JC Heine HVAC, Pearman Oil & LP Gas, Access Self Storage, Maverick Metal and Area Wide Plumbing of Ellis County. Single Sponsors: First State Bank, Compton’s Carpet Cleaning & Restoration, Henry S. Miller and Oma’s Jiffy Burger.
All photos by Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith