Local Little League Sluggers to Compete After Mariners at T-Mobile Park
Lords of the Longball: Centralia’s Kelly and Chehalis’ Fagerness Qualify for Regional Home Run Derby
By Jordan Nailon
The Twin Cities will be well represented at T-Mobile Park on Sunday thanks to a pair of prolific power hitters from Chehalis and Centralia Little Leagues.
Following the Seattle Mariners regularly scheduled tilt with the Detroit Tigers, the fences will be brought in a bit in order to accommodate the West Regional round of the nationwide Little League Home Run Derby. Ross Kelly, of Centralia Little League, will bring his whipping stick and he will be flanked by Owen Fagerness of Chehalis Little League. The players will be competing for the right to travel to South Williamsport, Penn. during the Little League World Series.
In order to qualify for the West Regional home run derby, each Little League was required to host their own tournament. A comprehensive standard set of rules were used at each location in order to maintain a fair playing field. In particular, fences were measured out to 180 feet and each player was allowed three rounds consisting of 10 outs. Coaches were tabbed with pitching duties and any swing that did not result in a home run was considered an out. Under those rules Fagerness was able to launch 24 moon shots while Kelly clobbered 18 home runs. Fagerness’ total was good for first out of six states in the region while Kelly placed second.
According to Katie McMillan, board member for Centralia Little League, this is the first time the home run derby has been offered at the local level by T-Mobile. That unfamiliarity with the contest as well as the outlying competition left organizers wondering how Lewis County’s biggest boppers would stack up against the rest of the field.
“We had California in our region, I was honestly shocked that we even placed just because you get so many teams from down south that play year round I just thought there was no way,” said McMillan.
She made sure to credit Centralia coach David Luond for throwing Ross a bucket full of prime pitches that helped the dinger specialist to advance. McMillan added that the rules will change at the Regional round where pitching duties will be put in the hands of professionals.
“Each kid that’s participating will have the same pitcher but the Mariners organization will provide that pitcher,” McMIllan explained. “Maybe it’s a different guy who pitches each round. I just know that we don’t get to bring our own coach to pitch.”
There will likely be plenty of familiar faces in the crowd as well since both Little Leagues have been working to procure large blocks of tickets for the undercard game between the Mariners and Tigers. Even though the two leagues are natural rivals, McMillan says she expects Lewis County will pull together to support both players on Sunday.
“How can you not? This is a pretty cool thing so how do you not support everybody?” McMillan said.
The Seattle Mariners game is set to start at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday at T-Mobile Park. The West Regional Little League Home Run Derby is slated to begin around 6:30 p.m.