Inaugural Little League HR Derby goes down to wire

Everest Ouellette hits walk-off shot to beat Nate Hawton-Henley

August 18th, 2019

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Bombs away.

Nothing was holding the contestants in the inaugural T-Mobile Little League Home Run Derby back on Saturday, as they hit blast after blast at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field. But in the end, the front-runner showed his strength, winning every round of the tournament.

Everest Ouellette of Tarpon Springs, Fla., came out victorious by hitting a derby-high 15 home runs in the title round, including a walk-off shot with less than five seconds on the clock. He topped a strong effort from fellow East Regionals product Nate Hawton-Henley, who hails from Fairfax, Va.

“It’s still really nerve-wracking that I won,” said Ouellette, whose shock was evident by the starstruck look he gave shortly after hitting the winning homer.

But watching him swing the bat, it wasn’t shocking for the crowd in attendance.

Ouellette began his sweep by tying Hawton-Henley for first place in the opening round, hitting six consecutive rockets en route to a 12-spot. Ryder Young, who won the West Regionals, advanced with nine, and Chris Hemphill hit two homers in three swings to win a tiebreaker for the fourth slot.

Despite a 12-homer effort from Hemphill to start the second round, the two-horse race between Ouellette and Hawton-Henley carried on. Hawton-Henley hit 11, then Ouellette put on a show to send 15 over the fence, including eight in a row.

Hawton-Henley squared the ball up consistently in the championship round, producing 14 blasts to all fields. Ouellette appeared to hit a snag in the first of his two minutes, notching just five homers with longer periods of silence than usual.

However, much like his favorite player Giancarlo Stanton, who won the Home Run Derby in 2016, the raw power carried Ouellette to the end. He hit four straight, then five in a row before depositing one well over the fence with his final swing to win it.

The competition was fierce, but Ouellette said he has a ton of respect for Hawton-Henley, a Nationals fan who creates a ton of power from his lanky frame.

“He’s very competitive,” Ouellette said. “He’s one of my best friends, I could say, of the tournament. He’s just super friendly and nice.”

Ouellette said the whole experience was a ton of fun, but it was also quite smooth -- from the regional to the flight to the festivities. Now, he’ll get to fly back home with some bragging rights for his teammates on the East Lake Little League squad, but he’ll have time to reflect, too.

“I’m still kind of processing that I won and just how much work I’ve put into this, all that went into being here,” Ouellette said.


First round

Everest Ouellette (East Lake Little League in Palm Harbor, Fla.): 12
Nate Hawton-Henley (Fairfax LL in Oakton, Va.): 12
Ryder Young (Del Mar, Calif.): 9
Chris Hemphill (Paseo Verde LL in Nevada): 8
Val Regalado (Smithville, Texas): 8
Brady Ebel (Vineyard LL in California): 8
Kai LaChance (Plymouth, Mass.): 5
Cash Compliment (Ashland, Ky.): 3


Hemphill: 2
Regalado: 1
Ebel: 1

Second round

Ouellette: 15 (27 total)
Hawton-Henley: 11 (23 total)
Hemphill: 12 (20 total)
Young: 8 (17 total)

Championship round

Ouellette: 15
Hawton-Henley: 14