Edwardsville High School senior Drake Westcott has so far powered 28 home runs in a high school career in which he has earned all-state recognition three times and helped the Tigers win a Class 4A state baseball championship.
He was also the BND’s large school all-area player of the year.
On Oct. 19, Westcott will be swinging for the fences again while others ages 9-18 compete in a home run derby at Tom Pile Field at the Edwardsville High School Sports Complex.
Hosted by Westcott, the home run derby will benefit cancer research with all proceeds going to the Kids Shouldn’t Have Cancer Foundation. Westcott was the 2019 Belleville News-Democrat Large School Baseball Player of the Year.
The Kids Shouldn’t have Cancer Foundation was established in memory of 8-year-old Johnny Wade. Living in the Jerseyville area, Wade was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor shortly before Christmas in 2014. Despite undergoing numerous surgeries, treatments and daily sickness, Johnny Wade died on Christmas Eve of 2015.
“I have competed in home runs derbies in Florida the past two years and helped raise money for cancer research,” Westcott said. “The Wade family knew that I had been involved in raising funds and they and the foundation representative, Jennifer Probst, contacted me and asked if I was interested in helping out,” Westcott said this week. “I told them that I would be more than happy to do what I could.”
In Westcott’s case, helping out meant sponsoring a home derby on the Tigers’ home field.
The derby, which is open to all players ages 9-18, begins at 10 a.m. Players will be grouped based on their age starting with those 9 and under. The final two groups will include freshmen-sophomores and another group including juniors and seniors.
Fences will be moved in for all age groups except the junior and seniors and all players will be hitting off a pitching machine with speeds adjusted for each group. The cost is $20 for each individual or $150 for a team home run derby entry of 10 players.
“I had a guy call me the other day and say he was interested in bringing his team out — $150 for a team of 10 players, that’s $15 per hitter. That’s a pretty good deal,” Westcott’s father, Bradley Westcott, said. “We’re hoping that we have Khoury League teams and other youth leagues come out, hit, have a good time and support to a very good and wonderful cause of raising money for cancer research.”
Each hitter in each age group will have 90 seconds to hit as many home runs as possible in each round. The top three home run hitters in each group will advance to the finals. The final round will also last for 90 seconds. Ties will be broken.
Drake Westcott will compete in one 90 second round. People can pledge an amount for each home run Westcott hits or they may make a flat donation to the Kids Shouldn’t Have Cancer Foundation.
“Drake is a pretty good kid,” Bradley Westcott said of his son. “It was his idea to have a home run derby. The Kids Shouldn’t Have Cancer Foundation people have several fund-raising events. He has competed in home run derbies the past two years. The first year he raised $6,000 which he donated to Cardinal-Glennon and then, last year, I think it was like $5,300 that he split between a friend he has played ball with for years who lives in a Vandalia and has cancer and Cardinal-Glennnon.
“He’s raised about $11,000 the past two years and that’s pretty good.”
Westcott said that concessions will be sold and that he hopes to have t-shirts available. All proceeds for the day will go to Kids Shouldn’t Have Cancer Foundation.
Those interested can register for the the event at kidsshouldnthavecancer.org/home-run-derby/.