E.A. Sports Today

Tuff enough

Spunky 9-year-old from Georgia wins one of three Home Run Derby titles that kicked off Dixie Youth World Series week

South Carolina’s Landon Vo is mobbed by his teammates after winning the O-Zone Home Run Derby. On the cover, Georgia’s Tuff Boddiford swings for the fences in winning the AAA Derby. (Cover photo by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – Of course, it takes a Tuff kid to win a Home Run Derby.

Tuff Boddiford, a spunky 9-year-old from Swainsboro, Ga., sent the last pitch he saw over the fence and then did a little dance in celebration Friday after winning the AAA Home Run Derby, the first of three Home Run Derby titles that kicked off Dixie Youth World Series week.

Boddiford was tough enough to advance through the preliminary rounds and then hit three home runs in the final to edge Travis Clark of Florida, who mashed seven home runs total in the three-round competition at the Oxford Lake softball complex.

In fact, all three Home Run Derby winners beat sluggers from Florida who wowed the crowd with multiple prodigious blasts in the first two rounds of their respective competition.

C.J. Watts of Minden, La., won the Majors title and Landon Vo of Clinton, S.C., won the O-Zone crown.

None seemed to enjoy the day more than Boddiford, named Tuff by his dad after a character in the Eminem film “8 Mile.”

After sending his winning homer far over the outfield fence, he ran down the third base line and broke into the little dance he did on all four of his state tournament home runs that helped get his team here.

“I hit like my momma,” the fourth-grader said, sending the crowd that gathered around him into uproarious laughter. “That’s really not the truth; I hit like my daddy. I got pumped once I hit that one home run. I knew it once I hit it. I said to myself, ‘that’s a goner, I won the Home Run Derby.’”

The Majors Derby came down to a battle between Watts and Caleb Breeden of Florida champion Bushnell South Sumter.

Breeden crushed six homers on his eight swings in the first round and six on his six swings in the second round; he was clearly the favorite going into the final. Watts hit seven homers in the first two rounds.

Watts, who won an Elite Home Run Derby at Disney World when he was 10, hit first in the final and set the tone with four homers and another ball in the one-point zone. Breeden didn’t appear fazed, but seemed to lose his touch after getting over the top of one early in the final. He only hit three.

“I thought he was going to beat me; I just had a feeling,” Watts said. “When I went up there I was thinking just hit as many as I can.”

Vo, a first baseman and outfielder for his team, stared down an equally formidable Florida foe in O-Zone Derby. Graceville’s Neal Adams hit five homers in the first round and four in the second, but only managed one in the finals.

Vo hit three in the finals and eight in the three rounds.

“I was actually surprised I made it that far and was nervous when I came up there first,” he said. “I was flying out, I kept on hitting the same, I told (his pitcher) to get it going faster so I guess I got it quicker.”

Louisiana’s C.J. Watts hit 11 homers in the Majors Home Run Derby, four in the finals.

At Choccolocco Park
First-round games
August 5

Clinton (S.C.) vs. Oxford (host), 3:30 p.m. (Field 3)
Lebanon (Tenn.) National vs. Searcy (Ark.), 3:30 p.m. (Field 4)
Columbia County (Ga.) vs. Laurel (Miss.) National, 5:45 p.m. (Field 3)
West Rusk (Texas) vs. Kings Mountain (N.C.), 5:45 p.m. (Field 4)
Fairhope (Ala.) American vs. Graceville (Fla.), 8 p.m. (Field 3)
Ruston (La.) vs. Appomattox (Va.), 8 p.m. (Field 4)
Championship Game
Aug. 10, 11 a.m. (Field 3), (7:30 p.m., if necessary)

At Choccolocco Park
First-round games
August 5

Troup County (Ga.) vs. Minden (La.), 3:30 p.m. (SB 1)
Charlotte South Park (N.C.) vs. Oxford (host), 3:30 p.m. (SB 2)
Walthall (Miss.) vs. Huntington (Texas), 5:45 p.m. (SB 1)
Headland (Ala.) vs. Fairview (Tenn.), 5:45 p.m. (SB 2)
Ashdown (Ark.) vs. Buckingham (Va.), 8 p.m. (SB 1)
Bushnell South Sumter (Fla.) vs. North Charleston Wescott-Pepperhill (S.C.), 8 p.m. (SB 2)
Championship Game
Aug. 10, 12:30 p.m. (SB 1) (8 p.m., if necessary)

At Choccolocco Park
First-round games
August 5

Stanley (N.C.) vs. Hueytown (Ala.), 3:30 p.m. (Field 1)
Oxford (host) vs. Spring Hill (Fla.) American, 3:30 p.m. (Field 2)
Metairie Gerard (La.) vs. Hartsville (S.C.) Northern, 5:45 p.m. (Field 1)
Prince Edward Farmville (Va.) vs. Texarkana (Ark.) East, 5:45 p.m. (Field 2)
Bullard (Texas) vs. Loretto (Tenn.), 8 p.m. (Field 1)
Greene County (Miss.) vs. Swainsboro (Ga.), 8 p.m. (Field 2)
Championship Game
Aug. 10, 10 a.m. (Field 1) (5:30 p.m., if necessary)

Players from the North Carolina and Arkansas O-Zone teams mingle during one of Friday’s skills competitions. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

You must be logged in to post a comment Login