‘Batter up’ during inaugural home run derby at Hayden Daze
HAYDEN — While the American Legion was serving up burgers and people threw bags at the cornhole tournament, local youth baseball players and coaches were swinging away during the inaugural home run derby Saturday at the Hayden Daze festival.
“It’s just an exciting sport for me,” 12-year-old Joseph Hockaday said. “It’s fun swinging a bat at a ball as hard as you can.”
About 50 youth from Hayden compete in the town’s youth baseball program. They play America’s pastime against teams from Craig.
“It’s getting more and more popular,” said coach Craig Preston, who was feeding balls into the pitching machine. “It’s tough because it’s been kind of a dead-end sport because we don’t have a high school team. We’ll see if it ever comes around and we get an actual high school team together.”
Adults competing in the competition paid $10, and they got 10 strikes to hit as many home runs as possible. The pitches for the adults were 60 mph.
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“It’s fun to go get home runs,” 9-year-old Carson Campbell said.
Money raised during the derby went to the youth baseball program. Nate Campbell won the derby with five home runs.
Town manager and youth baseball coach Mathew Mendisco took a few swings during his first time attending Hayden Daze, which included a disc golf tournament and a concert Friday night.
“It’s awesome,” Mendisco said. “Great community gathering. Everyone was out having fun.”
On the disc golf course, Josh Ackerman, of Yampa, won the tournament. He also got closest to the pin and got a hole in one.
Hayden Daze is put on by the town’s parks and recreation board and supported by sponsors.
The Hayden Daze event has grown every year, and there is talk of next year having a mechanical bull riding competition on Friday night.
“We’re looking to just try to make it bigger but keep it family friendly,” Mendisco said. “This is what small towns are all about.”
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