The Lemon Heads Double Down
The flurry of activity at the onset of the 2018/2019 Mid Atlantic offseason has left all of us playing catch up and collectively asking, “Wait . . . who is on what team now?” Throughout the winter months we will sort through the madness by taking a team by team look at the some of the squads you can expect to see next season.
In their first full season of competitive fast pitch wiffs, the Jersey Lemon Heads came within one run of winning the 2018 Mid Atlantic Championship. In the Championship Tournament, the Lemon Heads pushed the eventual champions, the Stompers, to the limit in an extra-inning decisive game three that showed off the team’s natural talents and wiffleball acumen. All told, the foursome from Jackson compiled a 15-9 (.625) record in MAW tournaments and established themselves as legitimate contenders going forward.
With results like that, it is understandable that the Lemon Heads might opt to stand pat going into ’19. The team did announce that they will be returning their core four – Tim Beck, Dave Clark, Matt Crispe, and Ray Lutick. Those four will be joined by Atlanta Wiffleball’s Don Thomas for the Winter Classic and it is rumored that Dave Capobianco (New School Risers, Old School Risers) will be added to the roster for the spring and summer season. Otherwise, the team is content to play the pat hand. The downside in doing so is that it leaves the Lemons with just one pitcher – Lutick – depending on the availability and status of Capobianco. As good as Lutick is and as durable as he was in 2018, putting all the pitching eggs in one basket is always a risk.
On the flip side, the Lemon Heads proved they can win with their core four and there is still plenty of upside to be unlocked. For example, while it might be tempting to think of the Lemon Heads as a one-man pitching driven show, a closer look at their late season performance reveals an offense potentially on the cusp of breaking out. Clark is primed for a big 2019 if his performance in the 2018 Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament is in an indicator. In a tournament where pitching carried the day and offense was hard to come by (the combined slash line was a miniscule .155/.306/.255) Clark hit a respectable .241/.323/.345. Equally as important, he did so against quality pitching. Clark wore out ERL’s Connor Young and Blake Hoffman in the semi-finals by going 8 for 20 with a double, triple, and five walks. Beck had a propensity for the big hit – especially in August and September – and he is the team’s best in-house chance at developing a secondary pitcher if given regular reps. The Lemon Heads were also without Crispe – their most consistent hitter during the regular season – for the final regular season tournament and Championship Tournament. Putting his bat in the lineup on a regular basis is almost like an adding another player. There are many reasons to believe that the Lemon Heads have yet to really approach their potential which makes them a potentially dangerous force in 2019.
Winter Classic 2
MAW will hold the second annual Winter Classic on February 9-10, 2019 at In the Net in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The overnight tournament, which will be played on regulation sized MAW fields with a 70-foot high ceiling, is filling up fast. For more information, go to www.midatlanticwiffle.com/2019winterclassic or contact Tim Cooke at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone/text at 301-661-7980. There is a limited number of teams that can be accepted and you don’t want to miss out on the premiere fast pitch wiffs tournament this winter.
Here and There
The third season of the CFOT Winter Wiffle league kicks off January 11th! The league that brings us the Barrel Bruisers and has produced Jerry Hill, Chris Owen, Tony Manelli, and Ryan Doeppel, among others, boasts one of the game’s most unique playing venues. In addition to those listed above, the league has several other players worth keeping an eye on (two of which Jerry recently highlighted.) Games are Friday evenings and late Sunday morning and all of the action can be followed on the league’s Facebook page . . . The Wiff is Life League’s annual medium pitch Fall Tournament on Black Friday was won by EHP, who came out of the loser’s bracket to defeat the Beavers twice in the championship. Juggernauts’ captain Chris Sarno pitched every game for the champions on his way to the MVP award while Gino Joseph contributed with many big hits and above average defense all tournament long. WILL returns in about one month with their annual winter tourney . . . In the last Offseason News & Notes, we noted that Yaks’ captain Nick Shirey feared he suffered a second SLAP tear just months after having surgery to repair that same injury. Unfortunately, the early diagnosis held up and you can add a torn rotator cuff for good measure. The Yaks have not yet made an official announcement on Shirey’s status for the 2019 season . . . MAW officials are currently considering several options to upgrade the organization’s statistics presentation for 2019. The goal is to incorporate batter vs. pitcher and split data for the 2019 season.