Dawson Smail Wins Prestigious King Of Swat Home-Run Derby At Cooperstown Dreams Park, Joins His Idol Bryce Harper (08/27/18)

(Article and photos submitted)

Geoff Davis (Tournament Director), Dawson, and Linda Persutti (Owner)

On August 18th, 12-year-old Clarion native Dawson Smail, representing Twin Tiers Mountain Lions (PA), beat out 104 contestants from across the country to win the “King of Swat” Home-Run Derby contest with a combined total of 14 home runs, held at The Cooperstown Dreams Park (CDP) in Cooperstown, New York.

CDP was built in 1996 by Lou “Coach” Presutti, an Olean, NY native that wanted to give every kid a chance to play baseball at Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Each year, for 13 straight weeks, 104 12U teams from California, Washington, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New York, and many other states gather at CDP in an invitation only baseball tournament. The weekly tournaments made up of independent travel/select and sanctioned teams start off with skills competitions for any of the 1500 players (weekly average). The competitions are “King of Swat (HR Derby, 1 player from each team), “Golden Arm” (Target Throw from CF, 1 player from each team), “Road Runner” (Fastest at running the bases, 1 player from each team), and “Around the Horn” (Timed Field Skills for all playing positions, 9 players from each team).

Dawson with one of his
home run swings

In qualifying for the home-run derby, players must hit 2 home runs in 5 swings. This narrowed the field from 104 to approximately 16 hitters advancing to the finals. Players batted in team name alphabetical order, which made Dawson Smail (Twin Tiers, NY) one of the last batters to qualify.

The finals consist of a 10-swing round, which the player with most home runs wins. In this round, the order was reversed, and Dawson was the 2nd player to take his turn at the plate. Dawson set the bar high, hitting 6 home runs on 10 swings. Two batters later, Chase Hermace (Putnam Brave Warriors, NY) was able to match the 6-home run total. After the other 14 contestants took their swings, no one else was able to reach that total. This lead to a “hit off”, Dawson and Chase would get another 10 swings a piece.

Dawson, once again, led off the round and was able to match his first-round total of 6 home runs in 10 swings. Chase was not able to match the home runs needed, making Dawson the King of Swat for the tournament.

Finishing through one of his home runs

After the week-long tournament, “Hey mom and dad, this was such an awesome experience and week, thank you” stated Dawson as his family loaded up the car to head back. To quote a mother from North Carolina, “this is the Disney of Baseball”. CDP is a 22-baseball field complex located 7 miles south of Cooperstown, NY. Each tournament begins with 3 days of “Pool” play followed by the championship rounds based on team seeding. The players and coaches stay onsite in the baseball village. CDP guarantees that you will play, granted the games will start as scheduled or be delayed until 2 o’clock in the morning. Fortunately, all the Mountain Lions games were able to be on time or just a little delayed due to rain.

Dawson Smail 2018 King of Swat

Dawson is the son of Jami and David Smail of Shippenville. He has played for many years in the Clarion LL, as well as on area tournament teams. Dawson spends many hours per year honing his baseball fundamentals, whether it is working in The Garage with hitting instructors , or with his regular season or all-star coaches.

Dawson’s favorite player is Bryce Harper. Harper also won the King of Swat in 2004. His performance was also 6 home runs in 10 swings.

Dawson would like to thank all the coaches and players of the Mountain Lions and Twin Tiers Baseball Academy for a memorable experience.


“King of Swat” Results:

1st Dawson Smail (Twin Tiers Mountain Lions, PA) 6 HR, Hit-off 6 HR

2nd Chase Hermace (Putnam Braves Warriors, NY) 6 HR, Hit-off 3 HR

3rd Carlos Salcedo (NBA Nationals, VA) 5 HR

4th Hunter Chambers (Delaware Wolfpack, DE) 4 HR

Liam Chambers (Long Island Titans, NY) 4 HR

Gavin McIntyre (Mid-Atlantic Shockers, Stanley, MD) 4 HR

Dayton Franke (Minnesota Mighty Moose, MN) 4 HR

8th Tate Bannish (Beantown Bombers, MA) 3 HR

Shane Andrus (Jersey Shore Rampage, NJ) 3 HR

Zaine Toneske (NJ Diamond Kings, NJ) 3 HR

11thAnthony Key (Hunter Pence Baseball, TX) 2 HR

12thDashawn Medley (Venom Stars, NC) 1 HR

Vincent Offnut (Delaware Wildcats, DE) 1 HR

Sean Maldonaldo (Diamond Baseball Academy, NY) 1 HR

15thWilliam Bevins (Granite State Ballers, NH) 0 HR

Nick D’Avanzo (West Islip Lions, NY) 0 HR