Clinton softball’s Reagan Weaver kept swinging for the fences inside of Volunteer Stadium. The crowd was cheering her on as the clock on the scoreboard ticked inside of 30 seconds. All Weaver needed was one more home run. Despite the great swings, she just couldn’t manage to get that final home run to clear the fence, although many were just a few feet shy. Weaver wasn’t competing in a game or playing in a tournament.
The Clinton County all-star was there for one reason: to hit dingers. Weaver was part of the 2023 Little League Home Run Derby on Thursday afternoon at Volunteer Stadium. While she didn’t get out of the semifinals, Weaver was more than glad she got the chance to compete in front of a nice sized crowd. “It meant a lot.
It was super fun. I loved it,” Weaver said. Weaver was one of just eight softball players from across the country to qualify for the Little League Home Run Derby for the softball competition, and eight boys qualified for the baseball competition. When the softball players were introduced one by one, Weaver received the loudest applause from the hometown fans who came out to support her. “It was super fun and it calmed my nerves down a little bit, so it helped me,” Weaver said. Weaver noted that she was excited when she qualified for the Derby, noting that having it in South Williamsport at Volunteer Stadium allowed for a lot of fan support to come. “That was like the one thing that I wanted to do was just make it here and that way all my friends and family could make it.
It meant a lot,” Weaver said. “I’m glad they could come.” Weaver made good connection throughout her 90-second round, sending numerous shots over the left-field fence and ended with seven home runs, just one shy of tying Enterprise (Utah) Little League’s Hadlee Holt and advancing. While there was a good crowd at Volunteer, Weaver said it didn’t rattle her too much.
She qualified in Kansas City, which helped her get acclimated to a larger crowd in attendance. “Just a little bit, but I think with Kansas City, when I hit there, it helped me a little bit for here today,” Weaver said. Johnston (Iowa) Girls Softball Little League’s Hanna Haxton won the Derby in the softball competition by belting out 18 dingers in the final round and advanced to the final by out-hitting Santa Fe (New Mexico) Little League’s Karolina Ruiz in the semifinals, 12-10. All in all, there was plenty of outstanding competition.
In the semifinals, Mallard Creek (Charlotte, North Carolina) Little League’s Sophia O’Neal hit 15 home runs to beat out Washoe (Reno, Nevada) Little League’s Reese Matter and move on. The semifinal between Toms River (New Jersey) Little League’s Brianna Delima and Ruiz also went into a tiebreaker after both hit seven. “It was good competition.
(Holt) from the west, she was super good. There was a lot of strong competition,” Weaver said of those she hit against. In the baseball competition, it was 4S Ranch (San Diego, California) Little League’s Ronin McCrea who won an exciting final over Monroe (Connecticut) Little League’s Austin Patti, 20-19. Weaver got to meet softball legend Jennie Finch as well at the event, something she was happy about. “It was super cool (meeting her),” Weaver said as she cracked a smile. Getting the chance to play at Volunteer Stadium was something Weaver enjoyed as well.
She was one of just eight softball players to step foot on it Thursday, and knows how meaningful the field is. She may not have won the home run title, but getting the experience to compete in it? That was rewarding in itself. “I love the experience. I wish I could have done better obviously, but you know, life goes on,” Weaver said with a laugh.