By Adam Brown
Sophomore Thomas Dillard is receiving a chance to represent Ole Miss at TD Ameritrade Park in the 2018 Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans College Home Run Derby Saturday, June 30. Dillard is one of six players to be selected by Intersport for the derby that will air live on ESPN 2 at 7 p.m.
Dillard is the third Rebel to be selected to take part in the College Home Run Derby, joining Colby Bortles (2016) and Sikes Orvis (2014). A full list of all the participants will be released at a later time.
This season, Dillard hit .310 with a team-high 13 home runs to go along with 15 doubles and two triples. Dillard led the Rebels with 59 RBI and 67 runs scored, ending his season with the most runs produced by any player in the SEC. He also stole a team-high 17 bases. As the Rebel clean-up hitter, Dillard drew a team-high 49 walks and led his squad in on-base percentage (.439) and slugging (.563) for an OPS just over 1.000.
Dillard hit a number of monstrous home runs for Ole Miss this season, including the hardest-hit home run by a Rebel in 2018, a 435-foot blast against Eastern Illinois that left his bat at 111.7 mph. Perhaps the biggest home run highlight of the switch-hitter’s season came as a series-winning three-run bomb against LSU.
In his second season as a Rebel, Dillard improved his batting average by .104 points and increased his home run total by nine. He was an integral part of an Ole Miss offense that was arguably the best in the conference en route to a regular-season SEC West Division title. He also earned All-Tournament honors as the Rebels captured the 2018 SEC Tournament Championship.
This year’s College Home Run Derby includes three rounds of play: Round 1 features all contestants, Round 2 features the hitters with the top four scores after Round 1, and Round 3 features the top two sluggers after Round 2.
Contestants in each round will have a timed period of four minutes to hit as many home runs as they can, rather than the traditional 10-out method. Once the timed period concludes, contestants will have one final opportunity to hit a home run with the “Bonus Ball.” If successful, two additional home runs will be added to the contestant’s total score. The new timed format has produced record-breaking action and drama since it was introduced to the competition in 2016. A record 185 home runs were hit in 2016 when this timed format was used, shattering the previous record of 128.