Nick Schaefer

2018 Championship Tournament Preview: Stompers

Roster: Paul Cooke, Tim Cooke, Jordan Robles, Chris Sarnowski, Nick Schaefer

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Playing Out Of: Baltimore, MD

2018 MAW Record: 20-5

Seed: 2

Signature Wins: vs. My Name is ERL 1-0 (4/14); vs. My Name is ERL TB’s (07/14); vs. Lemon Heads 1-0 (8/18)

Versus Championship Tournament Teams: 6-3

First Game: vs. 2-0 team (#3 seed) from double elim bracket

Why They Will Win It All:  On a per tournament basis, the Stompers have had the most success of any team in Mid Atlantic this season with three tournament titles and one runner up finish. The team has done so in large part because of an MVP caliber season from Chris Sarnowski. Chris is a legit two-way threat, equally capable of changing the game with his bat as he is with his arm. Sarno is one of only four players to toss 20 or more innings in a single Mid Atlantic tournament this year. Should the Stompers find themselves locked in extra inning battles and/or long series, his ability to go long will come in handy. At the plate, Sarno is a big time power threat and has accounted for his team's only runs with a homer a handful of times this summer.

Furthermore, if the team so chooses, they can ride Sarno for multiple games and 15 or more innings in the semi-finals with the comfort of knowing that they have Jordan Robles waiting in the wings. Jordan was his typically impressive self at the plate and on the carpet this season. Nobody loves the drama and intensity of a championship game more than Robles who almost always rises to the occasion when the lights are the brightest. Robles is one of the best the sport has to offer and probably the last hitter or pitcher any team will want to see on the 8th with a game on the line.

The 1-2 combo of Sarno and Robles is hard to beat, but the Stompers will also have veteran Nick Schaefer to go to if needed. In this format, Schaefer might act as a safety net of sorts for his squad. In the unfortunate event of an injury or underperformance, Schaefer – with years of big game experience – can take the ball as a spot starter or a late inning reliever. Schaefer could also take the ball in less pressure-packed situations and take some of the burden off Robles and Sarno. The Stompers undoubtedly have the pitching depth needed to win the tournament.

Offensively, the Stompers ran hot and cold this year but have gotten the big hits when needed from virtually everyone on their roster. They are the only Championship Tournament team with four players bringing a .200+ batting average into the Championship Tournament. Robles and Sarno are liable to go on a tear at a moment’s notice while Schaefer and Tim Cooke are veteran hitters who showed they still have a few big hits left in their bats. As a team, the Stompers get on base enough that they are usually able to find a way to push a run or two across against top tier pitchers.

Why They Won’t:  If the Stompers’ bats do run cold, all the pitching in the world might not be enough to save them. In 25 games played during the regular season, the Stompers scored one run or less 13 times. They won their fair share of those games thanks to the pitching but living on the edge in that fashion can come back to bite them. In terms of potential Championship Tournament opponents, the Stompers are 2-2 against the Lemon Heads and have yet to really solve Ray Lutick. Their 2-1 record versus ERL looks solid but the third game was a veritable coin flip and one run decided the other two games. Which is all to say that the Stompers will likely have very little margin for error on the 8th. A lengthy stretch of offensive futility or a single down day from one player could easily spell the end of their quest to repeat as Mid Atlantic champions.


Mid-Year in Review: Twenty Prominent Players from the First Half of 2018

By: Paul Cooke

At the midway mark of the 2018 Wiffle Ball calendar, The Drop takes a look at the players that caught our attention over the first half of the season. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of the best players in the game but rather a collection of players and stories that stood out over the past six months. This article covers players that have played in an unrestricted pitch speed environment in 2018.

Iron Man


Jimmy Cole entered 2018 with an ambitious goal in mind – play in 175 games over the course of the calendar year. So how is it going? By my own unofficial count, Cole has made it north of 50 games but a little short of the 87 games representing the halfway mark of his ambitious goal. Cole has been all over place the first six months of the year, competing in three winter indoor tournaments, playing regularly in at least two leagues in upstate New York, competing in the Skibee Wiffleball League in St. Louis, traveling to a pair of tournaments in Pennsylvania, and suiting up for two of games in the Palisades. Whether or not he reaches his stated goal, Jimmy is well on his way to being Wiffle Ball’s 2018 Iron Man. [HIGHLIGHT: Cole's Grandslam at the MAW Winter Classic]

Tough Outs


For an eight-day stretch in April, Cole’s Palisades Cardinals teammate and fellow New Yorker, Kris Morse, was an unstoppable force at the plate. It started on April 22nd at AWAA’s Opening Day tournament when Morse pounded out an insane thirteen homeruns for the tournament champion River Monsters. One week later in Palisades, Morse had a game for the ages. Playing for the Cardinals, Kris went six for eight with three homeruns, three walks and a whopping sixteen RBI in a route of the White Sox. Morse has since cooled off a bit – how could he not? – but the eight days in April when he suddenly became the wiffle equivalent of 2001 Barry Bonds is one of the more fascinating statistical feats so far in 2018.

The one-pitch rule in the Washington based JAL league was the subject of some debate earlier this year. What seems undeniable is that making good on one pitch isn’t easy even if you are getting nothing but fastballs straight over the plate (which – to be clear – is not the case in JAL). That is what makes Matthew Morton’s JAL XVII output so impressive. Morton saw 95 pitches during the winter/spring season. He let 30 go by for walks and picked up hits on 23 of them for an impressive .558 on base percentage. Even more impressive was that 13 of his 23 hits (57%) went for extra bases. To make extra base contact on 14% of the pitches you see over the course of a long season is impressive in any fast pitch environment. Due to his relentless offensive output, Morton was named MVP of the JAL XVII season.

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Way back in February at Mid Atlantic’s Winter Classic, Dan Potter deposited the first pitch he saw in 2018 over the left-center wall for a solo home run. That proved to be a harbinger of his season – in more ways then one. The leadoff home run was the first of three game opening shots Potter has hit this season, with the other two coming on April 14th against Ben Stant and June 16th against Tom LoCascio. Since the start of the calendar year, Potter has done nothing but rake against quality competition. The longtime York Yak leads MAW in almost every major offensive category through three tournaments. One of the best athletes in the sport for the better part of two decades, the “Wiffle Ninja” – as he is known – is finally get his due. [HIGHLIGHT: Potter goes deep twice off of Cole]

Veteran Presence

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Saturday May 5th was supposed to be a fun day of bonding between a veteran competitive wiffler and his two kids. And it was, but for Dave Capobianco, Mid Atlantic’s Torneo de Wiffs ended up being so much more. The longtime Wiffle Up player and former Fast Plastic NCT participant – serving as his team’s only pitcher and on a bad leg to boot – held down quality hitters like Dan Potter and Connor Young as he guided his New School Risers team to a 2-2 round robin record. Capobainco hit a walk off homerun in a play-in game to put his team into the semi-finals against heavily favorited My Name is ERL. That’s when Dave saw his two teenage children – who were growing more comfortable with each at bat – mount a rally on a walk and a triple which gave them the momentarily lead. In extra-innings, Dave took care of the rest by hitting his second game winning homerun in as many opportunities. Although the Risers came up short in the finals, their unlikely run to the championship game is one of the best stories of the half-year. [HIGHLIGHT: Dave Capobianco May 5th tournament Pitching Reel]

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Tom LoCascio – a first ballot Wiffle Ball Hall of Famer if there ever was one – received a heck of a Father’s Day gift this year. The captain of In the Box spent the day before Father’s Day back on the Wiffle Ball field flanked by his 15-year old son, Gianni. For one afternoon at least, the 51-year old turned back the clock and even better, got a chance to introduce his son to a sport he had previously only heard about. As everyone expected, Tom played well and left everything he had on the field while pitching all three games for his team. Among Tom’s highlights were a 1-0 victory in their second game of the day and seeing Gianni pick up the nuances of wiffle ball hitting, culminating in several well struck balls against a couple of high quality pitchers. More than a few fellow players remarked that Tom could still make a major contribution on a lot of teams, should he choose to play more than once a season. [HIGHLIGHT: Tom LoCascio June 16th MAW tournament Pitching Reel ]


Being underestimated and proving his doubters wrong is nothing new to the Stompers’ Nick Schaefer. By way of example, in 2001 as a member of In the Box, Nick was benched during a pivotal USPPBA East regional finals game against the Lakeside Kings because of the misconception that Nick is a weak hitter. Eight months later, Nick hit a walk-off 3-run home run against that same Kings’ squad to capture a tournament title for his new team, the Stompers. Thirteen years later – after being written off as a player on more than one occasion –Schaefer is still competing at a high level both on the mound and on the plate. His velocity is down a notch or two and his barely scuffed balls look like an ancient artifact to some younger players, but Nick continues to produce at high level. Although his pitching workload has been limited in 2018 – the days of 25+ inning tournaments are in the rearview for Nick– he is nonetheless highly effective both on the hill and at the plate. Nick is 2-0 on the carpet this season in MAW against quality competition and he has hit the game winning homerun in both of those outings. Showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, Nick has been one of the game’s best full-time veteran players this season. [HIGHLIGHT: Nick Schaefer helps himself with a Grand Slam]

Two Way Stars

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At 21-years old, Connor Young is what you might call a “young veteran”. Connor first played in competitive tournaments when he was just twelve years old and has been a mainstay in the sport ever since. 2018 might just be his finest season to date. The man they call Soup has a good shot of winning back-to-back MVP awards in Mid Atlantic and he steadied a Palisades Brewers team that was going nowhere fast before his arrival. After pitching nearly every single inning for My Name is ERL in 2017, Young relieved some of the pressure with several clever additions to round out the roster. That has allowed Soup to be at the top of his pitching game more often than not, even though he still racking up the innings. Young logged 70 innings between MAW and Palisades in the first half of the year, allowing a meager 16 runs in the process. The extra assistance from his teammates has also positively impacted Connor’s offense. Young is a true two-way threat now, just as capable of taking a top ranked pitcher deep as he is to strike out a big time power hitter. [HIGHLIGHT: Young Takes Matters into His Own Hands]


In 2017, Ryan McElrath put together one of the most impressive individual seasons in Palisades WBL history. Ryan took home the MVP and Cy Young honors to go along with a league championship, becoming only the second player in that league’s history to earn both MVP and Cy Young honors in the same season. So far in 2018, Ryan has picked up right where he left off. His hitting line through twelve games (.250/.407/.597) is nearly identical to last season but with a little more power. On the mound he has already racked up 36 innings for the Giants. While opposing batters have gotten to him more frequently in 2018 than 2017, a 1.25 ERA (per 5 IP) still ranks high up the leaderboard, particularly for pitchers who have thrown thirty or more innings. Ryan’s ability to pick up big hits and shoulder the bulk of the pitching load for his team make him one of the most valuable players anywhere. An impressive eight-inning victory in the finals of the Mid Atlantic Winter Classic this February only adds to his already impressive Palisades resume. [HIGHLIGHT: Ryan McElrath Winter Classic Pitching Reel]


You know that a player is truly special is when he is among the top all around players on the year and nobody makes a fuss over it simply because it is expected of him. Such is the case for Jordan Robles. Robles is having one of his typically great seasons but because we have seen this level of performance and winning from him time and time again, it may not register to the same way it has with players in the midst of breakout or career years. Jordan started 2018 in impressive fashion by winning three unrestricted pitch speed tournaments in a row – the MAW Winter Classic, MAW Opening Day, and AWAA Opening Day. He is on pace to record anywhere from his second to fourth best pitching season in his illustrious Palisades career. It is easy to take Robles’ talent for granted, which itself is a testament to his immense skill. [HIGHLIGHT: Robles April 14 MAW tournament championship game pitching reel]

Chris Sarnowski was bred to be a championship level wiffler. The son and namesake of the former State of Mind and Hitsom great, Sarno has been around the game almost his entire life and has played competitively for much of this past decade. 2018, however, has been a revelation. While it was abundantly clear from his past successes in GSWL Yard and elsewhere that Sarno had a bigtime bat, he’s shown this year that he has the arm to go along with it. Through three MAW regular season tournaments, Sarno has allowed just four runs in 43 innings of work. His resume includes wins over top-flight teams like My Name is ERL and Cloud9. Sarno is a hard thrower with a typical mix of pitches and has seemingly put his control issues behind him. [HIGHLIGHT: Sarno May 5th MAW Tournament pitching reel]

Another name that might fit that taken-for-granted mold is Tim Trenary of the Palisades Dodgers. Since 2012, Trenary has been one of the best and most consistent players in the Palisades, particularly on the mound where he has averaged 13 strikeouts per games over his eight Palisades’ seasons. This year he is putting up his typical strong pitching numbers with a 0.71 ERA and a tick over 12 strikeouts per game over 27 1/3 innings. While Tim’s offensive output is usually safely above average, he has really taken it to another level this season. In 51 at bats through the end of June, he has slugged nine extra base hits including six homeruns, which is good enough for a .725 slugging percentage. Combined with his solid .410 OBP, Trenary currently has a 1.135 OPS which if he can maintain would be the best of his career.

As a first-time player in Palisades WBL last year, Ty Wegerzn ran away with the league’s Rookie of the Year award. This year, his brother Dave is attempting to make it back-to-back ROTY awards for the Wegerzn clan. Dave Wegerzn – like Ty was in 2017 when he won Rookie of the Year honors – is by no means a newbie to fast pitch Wiffle Ball and that prior experience has allowed him to hit the ground running. Midway through the year, Dave is dominating the action on both sides of the ball with a 1.213 OPS and 0.67 ERA. If Dave can finish the season the way he has started it, he seems poised be the second Wegerzn in a row to finish as a season as Palisades’ top “rookie” player.

Flame Throwers

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48 IP, 4 R, 134 K’s. That is Dan Whitener’s combined Mid Atlantic and Palisades pitching line through the first three months of the spring/summer season. Whitener – who also pitches at Chowan University in North Carolina – poses one of the most electric arms in our sport. He’s put his abilities to fine use this year, retiring quality hitters at a rate unmatched by any of his peers. Whitener has gone through a murder’s row in those two organizations and handled them with relative ease. If Whitener has a shortcoming it is that he is prone to the occasional lapse of command but his stuff and velocity is so good that he is often able to work around any walks. With his pedigree and stuff, the sky is the limit. [HIGHLIGHT: Whitener May 5th MAW tournament pitching reel]


It is rare to strike out 27 batters over one 10-innning game and lose, as Whitener did back on June 16th in Mid Atlantic. A lot of things need to occur for that to happen, chief among them an opposing pitcher that is up to the challenge. In this particular game that was Cloud9’s Sean Steffy, who kept ERL off the scoreboard by scattering five hits, walking one, and striking out twenty over those same ten innings. Sean’s first tournament appearance of 2018 was a doozy, as he showed off the overpowering stuff that helped propel his team to victory in the 2017 Texas Open. Sean is 5-0 in his last five starts dating back to last October. The matchup with Whitener and ERL in June was easily his biggest test in those handful of games – ERL collectively picked up five hits and made ten outs on balls in play – but as big game pitchers do, Sean found a way to work out of and around jams to get the job done. [HIGHLIGHT: Sean Steffy MAW June tournament pitching highlights]

Two-Sport Stars


Texas Wiffleball League head honcho and talented pitcher, Will Marshall, is spending a plastic free summer while playing for the Utica Unicorns of the United Professional Shore Baseball League. The UPSBL – an independent league in the Detroit metro area – began its season in mid-May and runs through early September. Working in relief, Marshall has held opponents scoreless in 7 of 12 outings and has a 4.12 ERA through games on June 23rd. Will has been on his game more often-than-not, with seven of his nine earned runs coming in just two outings. Will poses one of competitive Wiffle Ball’s most electric arms and this summer he is proving he can still get it done on the diamond as well. [HIGHLIGHT: Will Marshall FP Texas Open pitching clips]

Georgia's Village Idiots won an eight team tournament in Tennessee in 2017 but have yet to play in 2018. There’s a good reason for their absence, however. One of the Idiot’s key players – Justin Jones – is currently playing professional baseball in the Los Angeles Angels organization. Jones – a four year starting shortstop at Georgia state – signed with the Angels as an undrafted free agent this summer and is currently assigned to their rookie-level team Arizona. 

Next Generation

What do you get when you take the overwhelming arsenal and velocity of Sean Steffy and put it on a nineteen-year old southpaw? You get My Name is ERL’s Blake Hoffman. It is unfair to burden Blake with such high expectations so early in his career, but there is no denying he has the stuff and ability to eventually justify that comparison. Blake has shown off his considerable talent over three MAW tournaments in 2018 but also struggled on occasion, as can be expected of any young pitcher. A longtime student of the game – Hoffman spent the prior five years uploading his backyard bullpen sessions to YouTube before making his pro debut in ’18 – he has the drive needed to become a top tier pitcher. Blake travels from his home in Marion, Ohio to York, Pennsylvania – a one-way trip of about 6 ½ hours – to compete in MAW tournaments. There’s no question the want-to is there and with his stuff, it is only a matter of time before he puts it all together. [HIGHLIGHT: Hoffman versus Way Too Beautiful]

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Last summer, it was Tommy Loftus who broke out of the pack in the Ridley Park Wiffleball League and established himself as one of the game’s bright young pitchers. This year, it looks like its Sean Bingnear’s turn to do the same. Bingnear followed up on his sparkling 2017 RPWL playoff run (15 innings, 0 runs, 24 K’s) with an excellent start to the 2018 RPWL season (16 innings, 0 runs, 28 K’s) before a nightmarish outing on June 20th where he seemingly couldn’t locate the strike zone. Outside of the Ridley Park league, Bingnear is opening eyes with his work in Mid Atlantic. In two tournaments, Bingenear has tossed 16+ above average innings and was one pitch away from defeating Cloud9 by total bases on June 16th. Relying on a heavy screwball and smooth delivery, Bingnear has shown he can get top tier hitters out and should only get better as he gains more experience. The NWLA recently spotlighted the Longballs’ pitcher as one of their players to watch at this year’s NWLA tournament. Sean will likely do the hefty lifting for the Longballs at that tournament, with Loftus still on the shelf as he rehabs an arm injury. [HIGHLIGHT: Bingnear MAW June tournament pitching reel]

Another young pitcher with a near upset over Cloud9 on his resume is Cooper Ruckel of the Texas Wiffle Ball League’s Cosby Show. Last October, the hard throwing sixteen year old kept the eventual Texas Open champions scoreless in a pool play game, but came up short on total bases. In sixteen innings spanning four games this season in the Texas Wiffle Ball League, Ruckel has struck out 46 batters and allowed only two hits. With an electric arm and a deceivingly simple delivery, Ruckel can throw the ball past opposing hitters in a way very few others can. [HIGHLIGHT: Ruckel strikes out Ed Packer]

The Drop National Player of the Year

Wiffle Ball is ostensibly a team sport but in its current state, the game belongs to the individual player. While I hope that one-day soon we will again have the full-time teams and system necessary to accurately rank and compare squads, that time is not now. It is a player's sport right now and there is no shortage of talented players to be found throughout the United States and beyond.

The Drop wishes to recognize the outstanding achievements of the games best, most consistent, and game tested WINNING players. To that end, The Drop will name a 2018 National Player of the Year this fall. In addition to the award, the winning player will receive a cash prize of $500. This is an editor’s choice award, meaning there will not be an open or closed door voting process. The winner will be selected by the The Drop based on the following criteria:

  • Based on a player’s performance in unrestricted pitch speed games* between January 1st and October 15th, 2018.

  • The award will take into account a player’s pitching, hitting, and defensive accomplishments between (and including) January 1, 2018 and October 15, 2018.

  • Among other considerations, the level of competition the player competed against, the player’s statistics, the number of games played at a high level, individual and team accolades earned by the player (i.e. championships), and the variety of competition will be taken into account when selecting the finalists and the award winner.

  • A player’s FULL body of work will be considered for the award. One good tournament is not necessarily enough to make up for a lack of play or performance the rest of the award period nor can will one "poor" tournament performance overshadow an otherwise superb season.

  • The selection will be made based on the hours upon hours of in-person and digital Wiffle Ball watching undertaken on a regular basis here at The Drop, conversations with players and organizers, and 2018 statistics.

* Organizations that meet this criteria include, but are not limited to: Palisades WBL; Mid Atlantic Wiffle; NWLA affiliated leagues that provide an unrestricted speed option (AWAA, Ridley Park Wiffle Ball League, WSEM, etc.); the NWLA national and qualifying tournaments;  the Fast Plastic tournament; JAL; and the Texas Wiffle Ball League.

The finalists will be announced on Monday, October 22nd. The award winner will be announced Friday, November 2nd. The award will be presented to the winner at a yet to be determined date and location.

So keep on playing and GOOD LUCK!

Stomping the Competition

By Nick Shirey

Let's flashback to the beginning of the 21st Century.

The Stompers, from Gaithersburg, Maryland, were one of the youngest and best wiffleball teams in the entire country.  Their enthusiasm, will, and talent made up for a lot of their youthful inexperience and the cream eventually rose to the top. At least it almost did. The Stompers finished third at the 2003 Fast Plastic National Championship, perhaps just a missed sacrifice fly conversion away from the title!  Arm troubles, professional careers, and other obligations abruptly turned this young, talented powerhouse dormant with many of the longtime USPPBA and Fast Plastic veterans  wondering where the talented youngsters went.  Those that knew them well knew they didn’t head down the path of Dwight Gooden or Daryl Strawberry, but the questions lingered.

Stompers at MAW's Opening Day: Tim Cooke, Chris Sarno, Jordan Robles, Paul Cooke, Nick Schaefer

Stompers at MAW's Opening Day: Tim Cooke, Chris Sarno, Jordan Robles, Paul Cooke, Nick Schaefer

Welp, wonder no more – they’re back!  They’re retooled!  They’re dominating the competition and they are currently THE BEST TEAM IN FAST PITCH WIFFLEBALL!  That is a statement that I stand by and will backup with explanation as you read on, but first, who exactly are the 2018 Stompers?

The 2018 version of the Stompers is quite different than its 2003 counterpart, but yet many of the features that made this team such a pain in the ass in the early 2000’s prevail in 2018.  The Stompers always knew how to grind out games, grind out wins and throw strikes

Stomper captain Tim Cooke

Stomper captain Tim Cooke

Not much has changed on that front.  They are still led by their heart and soul, Tim “The General”, Cooke.  Cooke is as intense as they come on the wiffleball field – have you ever even seen the kid crack a smile while playing? – and his team follows suit.  I don’t want to give Tim a bad rap. Off the field he moonlights as the MAW Director and is as nice of a guy as you could meet but its a different story on the field.  He calls the shots for this veteran squad and knows how to keep his team rolling and winning.  Cooke’s attitude and want can be seen with his supporting cast.  He is one of the best managers in the history of wiffleball, now he’s on a mission for the hardware to prove he belongs with names like LoCascio, Ledge, Palinczar, Tariela, Ventresca, Derek Anderson, Chad Anderson, and Lavoie.  Tim’s not only the emotional leader of the Stompers he also brings a valuable balanced hitting attack.  His bat ranks in the upper tier for both average and on-base percentage through one-and-a-half MAW Seasons and he has shown capable power, hitting five homers along with some key knocks off top tier pitching.

Tim isn’t the only Cooke on the Stompers.  His brother Paul is also integral part of the squad.  While Tim and Paul are not similar in looks, behavior, or approach, they are both quite good at winning.  Paul Cooke is not known for his bat yet is still one of the most feared hitters in MAW.But why?  How about an on-base percentage of 0.462, just slightly down from his .520 OBP in 2017.   Paul is one of the toughest outs in MAW because he demands the pitcher to throw strikes, a key part of winning especially in wiffleball!  While Paul typically sets the platter for the “big boys” in the Stompers lineup, don’t sleep on his bat either as he will make you pay.

The other longest tenured Stomper is Dan “Doc” Isenberg.  Isenberg, who at the turn of the century offered a dynamic lefty-righty 1-2 combo on the flat-hill with Schaefer, is now relied on for his power bat and occasional mop-up duty on the mound.  Age and injuries have caught up to the one time shutdown lefty, who in 2002 was one of the best left handed pitchers in the country. He is still able to win games for his Stompers squad when called upon, keeping their “aces” fresh.  Doc brings a powerful lefty bat to the Stompers’ lineup and not much has changed in 15 plus years.  Extreme power and a ”swing-away approach”.  You never know when Doc will strike, making for him and Paul Cooke an extremely tough back-to-back pitching matchup.

Then there is “Hollywood” Nick Schaefer.  I’m not sure how he did it and how he is still doing it.  Schaefer is one of the very best – if not the best – true pitchers in the history of competitive fast pitch wiffle ball.    Schaefer truly pitches.  Think Greg Maddux - that’s Schaefer but commanding with a freakin’ plastic ball with holes in it. Schaefer doesn’t dazzle you with speed but rather hits corners and has anywhere from 6-26 pitches.  That’s a slight exaggeration but he always seems  to manage to throw something new at you in the last inning.  Schaefer’s a great competitor and person.  If you ever want to watch someone pitch – this is the guy.  He is crafty and fun to watch.  Schaefer, who at one time was the Stompers ace, is probably now #3 on their depth chart, making them quite scary to deal with.  It’s equally scary as he’s likely to only have to pitch one  game these days.  Schaefer’s never really been known for his bat but since his re-emergence in MAW he has hit 8 homers in just 17 games, a couple which were game winners!

Dan Isenberg and Nick Schaefer chat in between games at a recent tournament.

Dan Isenberg and Nick Schaefer chat in between games at a recent tournament.

While the above players listed were good enough to win the 2017 Inaugural MAW #1 tournament, the talent doesn’t stop there.  They retooled for 2018, adding Jordan Robles, on the short list for the best player in the country and now the Stompers ace.  The Stompers brought in Robles at the end of 2017 and he takes the ball late in tournaments.  Robles is a strike throwing machine with plus-plus velocity.  He has dominated the competition on the flat hill and was the 2017 MAW Playoff MVP!  Robles also has a big time stick with serious power. He swings for the fences and offers huge pop to the Stompers’ already balanced attack.

The final Stomper on the list is a newcomer for 2018, Chris “Red” Sarnowski (or Red Sarno for short).  Red seems to be the final piece of the puzzle for this already dangerous team as he rounds out their staff and puts their lineup over-the-top.  Red is the son of wiffleball legend Chris Sarnowski, aka Sarno, who is best known for his years with wiffleball powerhouses State of Mind and HITSOM.  Much like his dad, the younger Sarno is a two-way star.  He has plus velocity and variety of pitches to keep hitters off balance.  He also boasts a rubber arm (throwing every inning in 2018 MAW #2 in route to the tournament title and tournament MVP award), which takes a lot of pressure off of Robles, Schaeffer, and Isenberg.  However, what may be more impressive than his pitching is his stick!  Red is a complete hitter, he has serious power but also great contact skills and discipline.  This allows him to fill up the stat sheet and consistently be on base, which as you know leads to runs and leads to victories!

So why is this group of wifflers the best team in fast pitch competitive wiffleball today?  The answer is simple – winning, winning, and more winning.

Since Tim “The General” Cooke pulled the strings and brought Robles onto the team, they have not lost a tournament.  Granted, there aren’t many fast pitch tournaments around to judge teams anymore but this group is doing it against what is without a doubt the best fast pitch tournament competition available today.  The Palisades Wiffleball League is exceptional and boasts some of the best, if not the best, collective group of talent but their league play and franchise structure does not allow for open market teams to form, so they cannot be considered part of this discussion.  Robles plays on the Palisades Padres and is one of the favorites to win that league.  Golden Stick fast pitch has died off much like that of Wiffle Up! before it. However, current Stompers Robles and Sarno have fared quite well in the GSWL medium pitch format with Robles finishing as the runner up at last year’s nationals and Sarno winning the first 2018 GSWL Medium Pitch NY Super Qualifier.  Then there is National Wiffle, which isn’t national at all and only seems to hold one tournament a year.  The NWLA may have some beef but they use all-star teams from local league and also only play one (two for some teams) semi-open market tournament a year.  A fair amount of NWLA teams have made their way to MAW but they have been unable to defeat the Stompers.  So that leaves the Fast Plastic Texas Open, which is a standalone annual tournament. Winning a tournament can make you the best that particular day but not necessarily THE BEST.  To be the best you must compete against the best, consistently, and come out on top.  The Stompers are doing just that.

The newest Stompers, Chris Sarno and Jordan Robles, at MAW's Opening Day tournament in April.

The newest Stompers, Chris Sarno and Jordan Robles, at MAW's Opening Day tournament in April.

To close out the 2017 season the Stompers went 9-0. They won the September MAW tournament and swept the 2017 MAW Playoffs to become the first Mid Atlantic Wiffle Champions.  From that point on, all they have continued to do is win.  In 2018 so far, they went 5-0 at MAW tournament #1 in April and won another championship.  At MAW tournament #2 in May, they were short-handed with only the Cooke Brothers and Sarno left to do the pitching. They won that tournament as well going 5-1.  The Stompers’ record since the addition of Robles is 19-1 and the scariest part is that they have yet to be at full strength for a tournament.

Say what you want but until they get knocked off they are the best in the game right now.  If you don’t think so, then come prove it. These guys play in tournaments all year long and support the game and growth of wiffleball. For them it is all about playing the game and winning. Money says they’ll beat you too!

Now get out there, practice, and as the Stomper’s Robles would say “Lace ‘Em Up!” Time to take the Stompers out!

Top Five Homeruns of 2017

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87 Home Runs were hit during the 2017 Mid Atlantic regular and post seasons. Thirty players had at least one round tripper, with the Barrel Bruisers’ Jerry Hill leading the way with 8. Surprisingly, not a single one of those 87 homeruns were of the walk-off variety (who would have thought there would be a walk off sac fly before a walk off homerun?) but that doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of memorable blasts this past year. We saw tournaments decided by a 6th inning homerun not once, not twice, but THREE times.

There were game changing homers hit during the regular season and a handful of prestigious blasts during the playoff tournament. There were enough memorable homeruns that cutting this down to five was no easy task - a couple of other homeruns easily could have made the fifth spot on our list. Among the plays not mentioned on our list - but deserving of recognition - are Dan Potter’s line drive shot off of Way Too Beautiful that might have been the hardest hit homerun of the season and Jordan Robles’ grandslam against My Name is ERL in the championship series that essentially sealed the title for the Stompers.

Five for Friday: The Sub-1.00 ERA Club

Through three tournaments, there are five pitchers in Mid Atlantic who have thrown at least 19 innings and have an ERA under 1.00 – Jarod Bull, Ryan Doeppel, Danny Lanigan, Nick Schaefer, and Connor Young. While they all share the same minuscule earned run average, none of the five pitchers went about it in quite the same way.