We are officially in the dog days of the summer. It is the portion of the long Wiffle® Ball season where teams are grinding it out under less-than-ideal conditions with their eyes set on October. That’s certainly the case for the 4th Mid Atlantic Wiffle® Ball tournament of 2017.
Several teams are expected to be short handed for the event. The trio of My Name is ERL – returning after missing the July tournament – is rumored to be short one player on the 12th and will go at it as a two-man squad. Back in June, Connor Young pitched every inning of every game for his team on the way to a tournament title. If Connor can repeat that performance and keep opposing batters from putting the ball in play, then the lack of a third player might be irrelevant. If not, Connor and teammate Joe Schlindwein will have to be on their toes in the field. ERL needs a strong showing in this tournament to solidify their chances of reaching the postseason tournament.
Likewise the Barrel Bruisers are expected to be undermanned on Saturday. Even worse for the Bruisers is they are expected to be without their ace, Ryan Doeppel, and will go at it as a two-man squad. The Bruisers have proven to be a resilient team – they have already overcome a season ending injury to Mark Jansen and played much of the July tournament as a duo – and will have to show a similar amount of fighting spirit on Saturday without their top pitcher. Jerry Hill continues to improve on the mound with every tournament and could be the key to the Bruisers’ success this weekend.
For a while it looked as if the Stompers would join ERL and the Bruisers as a two-man team. Steve Bandzwolek and Nick Schaefer will be inactive for this tournament, but we have gotten word that Dan Isenberg – who was also expected to miss the tournament with the impending birth of his first child – will be active on the 12th. That’s great news for the current point standing leaders who otherwise would have had to rely on the untested Paul Cooke on the mound with only one fielder behind him on defense. The last minute addition gives the Stompers another arm and defender. Isenberg has traditionally been a power threat but has yet to get his bat going this season. The Stompers hope that changes on Saturday as they look to wrap up a playoff spot.
Speaking of teams whose fight and drive is never in question, the InHumans will return to the field after their debut in July. The underdog InHumans led going into the last inning of all three of their games only to come up just short. They gave their opponents all they could handle and showed steady improvement throughout the tournament. The InHumans may be without Nick Shirey this tournament. If they are the loss of Shirey – who handled most of the team’s pitching duties in July – is a big one for the team but as we learned one month ago, these scrappy kids should never totally counted out.
Speaking of the Yaks, they will look to build off of the momentum from their July tournament victory. July tournament MVP Jarod Bull – locked in a tight race with Doeppel for Rookie of the Year honors – will look to lead the Yaks to a second consecutive tournament victory. If the Yaks are able to repeat, they will almost certainly take over the top spot in the playoff point standings.
Making their Mid Atlantic debuts on Saturday are Jackson Wiffleball. This team – consisting of five players from the New Jersey-based Jackson Wiffleball League – has the manpower and ability to walk away with the August tournament title. In addition to being one of the few teams in the tournament at full strength, these guys are game tested after a long summer of league play. The Jackson boys are traveling a long way to participate in this tournament and certainly don’t want to drive back empty handed. Keep an eye on them.
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