This weekend will mark the beginning of the slow-pitch wiffleball tournament season. Although traditionally beginning in late May or early June, COVID-19 precautions have pushed our area's summer season back a bit. However, the wait is over. The HD Classic will take place this Saturday, June 27th at Rose Park in Mishawaka.
Last year, Granny's Quilt defeated the County Line Kings in the championship, 1-0. As is customary at HD, homeruns are kept track of and the individual with the most homers on the day is recognized as the HD Classic Homerun Champ. King Anthony Rieff was 2019's winner.
What is the event?
The HD Classic is a slow-pitch wiffleball tournament set up by Homerun or Bust captain and New Carlisle Newt outfielder Matt Went. The tournament acts as a fundraiser for Huntington's Disease. All proceeds from the event go to the Thomas Cellini Huntington's Foundation.
To learn more about the foundation, click here: http://www.marlev.com/TCHF/?TCHF
To learn more about the disease, click here: https://www.hdwiffleballclassic.com/about-huntingtons-disease
Under normal circumstances, the tournament would be accompanied by a silent auction at the park. However, because of COVID, the auction will be online this year. Bidding ends Friday evening, so get those bids in quickly. To bid, click here: https://www.hdwiffleballclassic.com/2020-silent-auction
The 2020 event will feature 21 teams duking it out over the course of pool play and then a subsequent single-elimination tournament. Pool play this year will consist of 3 games, with 5 pools of 4 (or 5, for one) teams. At the end of pool play, the teams will be seeded and a tournament will follow. The winner will be declared the 2020 HD Classic Champions and will receive the coveted belt as prize.
Pool Play Preview
Tourney Sleeper: Scottsdale Sluggers
With 21 teams, none of these pools are going to be cake-walks. But if I had to pick an easiest pool, it would probably be this one. It's hard to see any of the teams running away with this pool. All four of these teams are solid, albeit not spectacular. The Magic Purple and Goon Squad have been playing a lot thanks to ORWBL, so there shouldn't be any rust on their part. The Magic are running an unconventional team with fast pitch players, however, so it may take them a few games to figure it out. The Goon Squad are getting Zack Christy back for this tourney, but they've definitely struggled in prior tourneys even with their improvement in ORWBL. Bloomfield and Scottsdale both will be making their 2020 wiffle debuts this season, but have shown their abilities in the past. They may need a few games to warm up. Bloomfield is a WWBC darling and their defense is top-notch. Look for either of those teams to make a little run as they shake off the rust heading into tournament play. Adam Cseh, Conner Mowers, and Daniel Schafer (go flyers) give Scottsdale some Cinderella potential if their other two can figure it out.
New Carlisle Newts
Tourney Sleeper: Malorts
Another pool with no clear-cut favorite, the Yellow pool features a plethora of ORWBL talent from across the league. The Newts offer a mix-match of guys consisting of regulars (Keck, Touhey, and Cotter), and two County Line King starters (Bryce Bloode & JP Kehoe). This squad should be able to hit with the best of them, but their defense is a major question-mark. Ace Koby Keck will need to solidify his outfield by tourney time for New Carlisle to make a deep run. GP Black offers a flavor of all kinds of Granger including: a starting Panther (Daivyn Davis); a backup Panther (Brandon Campbell); a retired Panther (Tony Koch); and a traded Panther (Tiki Seroczynski). It’s an interesting team with plenty of talent but things will need to come together for them to make a run. Koch will undoubtably need to shake some rust off, but should be ready to go by tournament play. Davis is a rising star who has had a hot start to ORWBL this year. He’s definitely the X-factor for this squad, and how he plays will largely determine how far they go. The Malorts, too, are bringing a mash-up between regulars and newbies. Mookie may not be of much use by tournament time, but addition Levi Miller is rock solid in the field and will be a huge addition for this veteran team. Between him, Prem, Dunc, and Nate Hansen, the Malorts are going to be a really tough out in the tournament. Its easy to see them coasting through pool play, but with the experience and talent on this roster I wouldn’t want to play them in the single-elimination bracket. BFAM is interestingly running their ORWBL starting five for this tournament. It may take them a few games to nail down exactly how they'll align themselves with four fielders but once they do they'll be a nuisance to play. They’ve had a tough sophomore start to 2020 ORWBL, but if they can get hot they, too, will be a tough out. Reigning MVP Brandon Terry leads his team which features solid defenders Chaz Boyd and Walter Griffin III. Austin Traxler and Jimmy Tumpane give them some nice options on the mound, too. They’ll be trying as hard as possible from the get-go, so no matter when you run into this Elkhart team they’ll be a tough out.
County Line Kings
Tourney Sleeper: County Line Kings
For the Black Pool, it's really going to come down to the Panthers/Kings game. This is a really top-heavy pool, with the Mark-less Cyclones and Warsaw Revenge unlikely to put up a ton of resistant against the top two. Granger is running their usual four of Griffin Smith, Seth Campbell, Alex Zarazee, and Austin Williams. Griffin and Alex have been two of ORWBL’s hottest players through half the season, while Seth and Austin have more than proven their abilities in the past. We know who they are, there aren’t a ton of question marks around these guys. The Kings return their same runner-up team from last year’s tournament. Rieff is their big bat, as he hit the most homers in the tournament last year. Forrester and Boren have had a lot of time playing together in ORWBL this season, so the Kings’ tourney success will largely rise in how quickly they can readjust to playing with Connor VanOverberge and Rieff. I like the Panthers in pool play, but both of these teams have a real shot at winning the whole damn thing come tourney time.
Maple City Magic
Read About It
Tourney Sleeper: Hood Rats
A quietly good pool, the Blue Pool is yet another which features a lot of ORWBL talent (starting to sense a theme here). The Magic are bringing an absolutely loaded squad to HD this year. After failing to win a tournament in 2019, it seems like they're determined to do so this year. In addition to Wes Ellis, Shane Anderson (replacing the injured Drew Luther) and the Jonk bros they've picked up 2019 ORWBL MVP Mark Richards. That, my readers, is a squad. Absolutely loaded and the odds-on favorites at this year’s classic. The Hood Rats will be no push-over, however, as they return after reaching the final four last year. Adding Tyler Shupert to replace an otherwise 0 in their lineup last year is a big upgrade and if they can hit they'll be a tough out when the tourney rolls around. With Kadin Abegg pitching and Kody Webb and Garrett Ruiz in the outfield, the Hoodrats may have the best defense here. If they can get hot at the plate they’ll be as tough an out as anyone. Read About It is a semi-sleeper for me. Everybody's favorite Panther Brett captains this squad which features Wildcard ace Evan Layman, too. Brett is better than people think, and it they should be able to squeak out a win despite a tough pool. The Whitecats are bringing a good team, too. Along with Whitt, Clutch Players standout Andy Sieradzski is a big bat who has plenty of tourney experience. This is arguably the top pool at this year’s tournament, and it sucks that somebody has to finish last here.
Twin Branch Billy Goats
HR or Bust
Tourney Sleeper: Twin Branch Billy Goats
Tourney Sleeper: Twin Branch Billy Goats
This pool features: the defending champs, Granny's; a solid ORWBL club, the Billy Goats; as well as tourney name-stays HR or Bust. It's hard to imagine Elite 260 and Ohana finishing anything but 4th/5th here. Other than that? Who knows what will happen. Granny's returns nearly the same team as last season and will assuredly be a threat here once again. Nick Thoman, the Warmoths, and Dan the Cat are going to be a problem both in pool play as well as the tourney. They’ll be defending the belt at a place they’re all too familiar with... Rose Park. As they so lovingly reminded us on twitter, Granny’s has won 10 of the 14 wiffleball tournaments held at Rose (which includes the HD Classic as well as when WWBC was held here). The Billy Goats have struggled in ORWBL play this year by their standards, but have shown potency in tournaments in the past. The 'Goats will be running their patented four-man lineup of Oletti, Doran, Frankie, and Keigan so they too won't be going down easy. Matt Went did himself no favors putting his team in with the defending champs. Make no mistake though, with himself as well as the Forslund brothers HR or Bust should be slugging away on Saturday in their defense of Rose Park. I like the Quilt here to win the pool but I could see the ‘Goats or HR or Bust coming out with it. Plus, with Granny's kryptonite Brayden "Biscuits" Myers on Elite 260, Granny's could see their entire day ruined in a single pool play game.
Maple City Magic
County Line Kings
Maple City Magic
There’s a lot of solid teams at HD this year, and very few push-overs. When it comes down to it, though, there are three teams who are above the rest: Granger, the Magic, and Granny’s. I’d be really surprised if at least two of them aren’t in the final four. But at the end of the day, this Maple City team is pretty damn loaded. Losing Drew to an injury will hurt, but they’re absolutely stacked for this tourney and it’s hard to picture anyone else as the favorite.