READING — A few minutes removed from watching Destiny McGrath obliterate softball after softball at Austin Prep on Sunday, A Shot For Life CEO and Founder Mike Slonina was still blown away by what he had just witnessed.
“Destiny hit 101 home runs in 16 minutes,” Slonina said, “which is probably the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It was incredibly impressive.”
McGrath, a senior at Norton High School, belted 30 homers in the first round, 25 in the second, 23 in the third, and 23 in the fourth, maintaining her torrid pace the entire way and distancing herself from the field to win the inaugural A Shot For Life Home Run Derby.
Taunton senior and Lehigh commit Hanna Aldrich came in second place, outlasting her teammate, Kelsey White, in a swing-off in the quarterfinals and sneaking past Marshfield’s Bri Melchionda (13) and Arlington’s Claire Ewen (11) with 14 home runs in the semifinals. She turned in another strong showing with 12 in the championship, however no one was catching McGrath on this particular day.
McGrath elected to go first in the final round, and the outfielders shagging the balls consistently had to backpedal well beyond the fence to corral her towering shots. On an afternoon where the hitting was consistently strong among all competitors, McGrath established herself as the favorite early and never let up.
She was thrilled to win the derby, but she was even more stoked to participate in such a worthwhile and meaningful event. McGrath, who plans to play in college and is considering American International, Fitchburg State, and Franklin Pierce, among other schools, knows the event was about more than just hitting home runs.
“It shows that no matter what you do, there’s always a way to put the sport you love to a good cause,” McGrath said.
Slonina, who’s more of a sharpshooter on the basketball court than a power hitter at the plate, is extremely pleased with how the baseball and softball competitions unfolded over the weekend. He learned a great deal about both sports by running these events — along with how to use them to make a difference — and sees no reason to stop now.
Between baseball and softball, the organization raised more than $30,000 toward brain cancer research. The goal is to build off this weekend and carry the momentum forward to help ASFL continue to flourish.
“I thought the event went great,” Slonina said. “I thought it was a great first step in what’s going to be a robust initiative with several different events. We’re really excited to have gotten it off the ground. Now we’re going to make it better for Year Two and we’re going to expand from this point.”