Home Run Derby connects students and athletes

Beau Benoit, Circulation & Marketing Director

Grab your bat and swing for the fences. ULM’s athletics department and baseball team hosted a home run derby Wednesday at Lou St. Amant Field, allowing students to feel like true college sluggers. 

Once at the plate, participants received 10 pitches to get either the fastest exit velocity or the most home runs. Winners walked away with some ULM merchandise and, of course, bragging rights.

The winner of the home run portion was Braxton Guilbeau, a punter and kicker for the football team. Guilbeau discovered the competition through his strength coach. When coach Mike asked him if he wanted to participate, Guilbeau simply said, “Sign me up, coach.” 

Picking up his bat and stepping up to home plate, Guilbeau relived some childhood memories.  

“I used to play baseball all my life,” Guilbeau said. “Just hitting that one home run made me feel like a little kid again.” 

Like Guilbeau, sophomore Garrison Lynch grew up playing baseball. While Lynch left the Lou without winning a prize, the derby served as a fun experience. 

“It’s not every day you get to hit on a college baseball field, especially for a home run derby,” Lynch said. 

Even the spectators enjoyed the derby. Sitting on the edge of their seats, they watched as people either hit dingers into the outfield or flat-out missed the ball at every swing.  

Sorority sisters Andrea Chrisulis and Harley Babin took the opportunity to connect with each other and the ULM community. 

To Chrisulis, the derby encouraged students to step out of their comfort zones and try things they wouldn’t normally do.

“The energy was very tee ball mom where I was sitting,” Babin said. “We cheered for everyone and just had a blast watching.” 

The derby was an event new to ULM. Graduate students Brewer Hendrix and Doc Wilkerson came up with the idea of hosting a home run contest. Michael Gammon, the associate athletic director of internal operations, also oversaw parts of the event. He envisioned the derby as a new way for students to “interact with our student-athletes.”  

Gammon said, “When the student-athletes have the opportunity to interact with students around campus, it shows them they have the support from the student body.” 

The baseball team and athletics department plan to host derbies annually, but given the strong showing by students, Gammon suggested, “we could consider doing this multiple times a year.”