Wilson wins 23rd annual Wiregrass Home Run Derby

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 23, 2017

Andalusia junior Ethan Wilson topped Brantley’s Jacob Free in the 23rd annual Wiregrass Home Run Derby over the weekend in Dothan.

“It felt really good,” Wilson said. “When I saw all the guys that I would be competing with, I didn’t think there was any way that I would win.”

There were 36 players from around the state that gathered at Northview Methodist Academy.

The derby started with two preliminary rounds before the top eight players were paired off to play in the quarterfinal round.

In the quarterfinal round, Wilson went up against Rehobeth’s Cade Van Slyke.

Wilson topped Van Slyke to earn a spot in the semi-final round.

Wilson knocked off Don Williams from Emmanuel Christian with three home runs in the semi-final round.

In the final round, Wilson would face off with Free, who signed to play quarterback at Vanderbilt University.

Ironically, the championship round pitted two All-State quarterbacks against each other on the diamond.

Free earned a spot in the championship game after defeating Stratton Watt in the semi-final round.

Both players received 10 outs in the final round. Anything that wasn’t a home run was considered an out.

Wilson took the first cuts in the final round and sent three more balls sailing out of the park.

Free was unable to muster anything over the fence in the final round to give Wilson the championship.

In the second round of the competition, Free hit a derby-high 13 home runs, but appeared to run out of gas in the final round.

“My hand was hurting pretty good after the home run derby was over, but it was a lot fun,” Wilson said. “I had some wind blowing out to right, so I just tried to hit as many as I could in that direction.”

Wilson now sets his sights on the 2017 high school baseball season, where he will look to lead the way for the Bulldogs not only at the plate, but also on the mound.

The Bulldogs started off the season with a loss to Trinity on Monday and will be back in action on Friday when they travel to Dothan to take on Providence Christian.

Andalusia’s first home game is scheduled for March 13.