SUGAR LAND, Texas _ The youngest player with the least experience by far walked away with the championship belt Tuesday night at the Southland Conference Home Run Derby at Constellation Field.
University of Central Arkansas' Hunter Hicks, a true freshman from Sheridan, hit as many home runs in Round 1 (13) as he has had total at-bats this season for the Bears.
He then went to a sudden death round tied with Stephen F. Austin's Manny Vasquez and Sam Houston's Hunter Hearn.
Hicks and Vazquez both hit seven home runs but the crown went to Hicks because he hit his first pitch of the sudden death out of the park and Vazquez did not.
"I was just nervous,” Hicks said. "I thought I was going to get super tired and not be able to make it. But I guess I did pretty good. It's awesome. It's sweet, I like it.”
Hicks has played in only 12 games as a freshman and has four hits and two RBI.
His pitcher for the derby was his head coach Allen Gum, a left hander.
Hicks hit two home runs in the final seconds of his four-minute first round to tie Vasquez with 13 homers.
SHSU's Hearn, hitting last by virtue of his team's No. 1 seed, then matched those two, also hitting a clutch home run in the final seconds of his round.
Defending champion J.P. Lagreco from Northwestern State was back to defend his crown but did not advance after hitting nine home runs in the opening round.
That last year's winner was also on last year's SLC tournament championship team did not escape Hicks.
"They said the last person who won this deal won it all here, so I hope the same thing happens,” Hicks said.