2020 Wiffle®Ball Championship Preview
The wait is finally over. After an eventful two tournaments and ORWBL regular season, the slow-pitch wiffleball community is warmed up and ready to roll in the greatest wiffle event on earth: The Wiffle®Ball Championship.
Last year, the Granger Panthers out-slugged the New Carlisle Newts in perhaps the windiest championship to date to take home the Hometown Cup. Prior to the championship Granger defeated the Grandmother’s Quilt, while New Carlisle bested the Maple City Magic in the semi-final games at Migley Field. As is customary at The Championship, the top performer of the Hometown Cup Finals is awarded the Kaylor Keck Marquee Player Award. Last year Granger left fielder Seth Campbell was awarded the Kaylor Trophy for his efforts.
What is the event?
The Wiffle®Ball Championship is a slow-pitch wiffleball tournament set up by Koby Keck of the New Carlisle Newts and his slew of volunteers. Since its founding in 2005, the tournament has traditionally coincided directly with the New Carlisle Hometown Days summer festival. However, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced the festival to be cancelled this year. Despite this cancellation, the tournament is still on. The festival is hopeful it will be able to continue in 2021. Next year’s festival is scheduled to take place from July 23-25th.
To learn more about the festival, click here: https://www.hometowndays.net/
As mentioned above, this year’s tournament will not feel the same as years’ past. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has resulted not only in the adjacent festival being cancelled, but new restrictions, rules, and regulations being put on large-scale gatherings. Due to the popularity of The Championship, many of these social distancing rules apply to the tournament. It is incredibly important for each and every team to adhere to the social distancing and mask rules in order to ensure the tournament runs without a hitch.
PLEASE CAREFULLY READ THE HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS, FOUND HERE: https://www.hometowncup.com/post/covid-19-health-and-safety-protocols-for-the-2020-championship
The tournament has occurred yearly since its founding in 2005. Each year pool play occurs throughout the New Prairie Little League fields on the last Saturday of July. The tournament occurs the following day with the top four teams advancing to historic Migley Field to play in the Hometown Cup Finals.
To learn more about the history of The Championship, click here: https://www.hometowncup.com/history
The tournament’s Home Run Derby is held at Migley Field on the Friday before pool play. Maple City Magic catcher Jared Jonkman won his third consecutive Golden Bat last year. This year’s Derby will take place at 7:05 EST. The cost to enter the Derby is $5 per person. The competition is open to everyone. Registration is from 6:00pm to 6:45pm ET.
The 2020 event will feature 80 teams duking it out over the course of Saturday pool play and then a single-elimination tournament on Sunday. Pool play will consist of 4 games, with 16 pools of 5 teams. At the end of pool play, the top 48 teams will be seeded and a tournament will follow on Sunday. The winners will be declared the 2020 Champions of Wiffle®Ball and will receive t-shirts, hats, and their names etched into history on the Hometown Cup.
Buckle in, grab some popcorn, and get ready to read. The 2020 Hometown Cup Manifesto starts right now.
Pool Play Preview
Sunday locks: Granger Panthers, Barnstormers
On the bubble: Macho Men, Big Sticks
Best shot at Migley: Granger Panthers
The defending champs lead the way to start this year’s preview. Returning the same lineup from last year’s championship team, Granger is surely one of the favorites in their defense of the Cup. In ORWBL-play, both pitcher Griffin Smith and catcher Alex Zarazee have been MVP candidates all season long. Despite recent bountygate allegations, outfielders Seth Campbell and Austin Williams are as solid in the field as anyone. Campbell is the reigning Kaylor Trophy winner, and his powerful bat will be a big reason why they'll be able to have success in their quest for a repeat 'ship. There’s a reason they’re the defending champs, as the odds-on favorites in 2020. Their relatively light pool surely helps their odds, as they’re definitely in the running for one of the coveted top four seeds. Although this pool features no ORWBL talent outside of Granger, be on the lookout for the Barnstormers. Led by the Leroy (a fast-pitch wiffleball league) standout Ian Garavalia, the Barnstormers project to have ample wiffle experience. Although they’ll be used to a different style of play, a quick adjustment could result in Granger getting an earlier-than-expected challenge. Outside of those two, the wiffle experience drops off tremendously. Both Macho Men and the Bat Flippers feature athletes presumably in their prime, although 2020 will be their first appearance at The Championship. The Big Sticks are young, but with athletes like Mikey McLaughlin they could find themselves in the running for a spot in the tourney if they play their cards right.
Ohio River Bandits
Sunday locks: C-Team
On the bubble: Goon Squad, Busch League, Warsaw Whitecats
Best shot at Migley: C-Team
This is a pretty wide-open pool despite a relatively clear favorite in C-team. Consisting of wiffle veterans & legends such as Seth Shail, Jared Emmons, and Randy Schuster, they easily have the most Hometown Days success in the Ellis pool. While C-team may have some rust to shake off in the morning games, by their 5 pm game with Warsaw Jemmons and company should be rolling. Along with fourth man Sam Zucker, this squad is no stranger to Sunday success at Hometown Days so expect a deep run come tourney time. Speaking of Warsaw, it’s a wonder Whit is able to piece together formidable squads year after year. Since losing Zarek the Whitecats have lacked the firepower it takes to have serious tournament success. However, it remains to be seen who the Whitecats will show up with. They could easily go 3-1 in this pool… or 1-3. Despite finishing at the bottom of the ORWBL standings the last two years, the Goon Squad has shown signs of life in the last month or so. These young guns out of Union Mills boast a scrappy and lively lineup who have begun to mesh well in their second full season. Led by speedy lefty Andrew Karsten and the sweet-swinging Evan Walters this young squad could flip a good Hometown Days showing into success moving forward. This is the place to really prove you’re legit and for the Goon Squad, this pool has all the makings of a breakout showing. The Busch League will surely make things interesting for all three of the teams mentioned above. Although they’re just 4-10 at The Championship, they’re led by former New Carlisle Newt Jeff Szczypiorski and certainly know their way around the diamond. Despite being an older team, if they find themselves on a wind-blowing-out field… watch out.
Bob Keck Division
Maple City Magic
Stan Mikita’s Donuts
Sunday locks: Maple City Magic, Short Pistols
On the bubble: Indiana Blazers, Chaw Dawgz
Best shot at Migley: Maple City Magic
After cruising to a Hometown Cup finals last year, the Maple City Magic return their core five of Caleb & Jared Jonkman, the immaculate Wes Ellis, and Hometown Cup namestays Shane Anderson and Drew Luther. The Magic project to have one of the most well-rounded lineups in the entire tournament, with Caleb locking down left field and the ability to throw either Jared, Wes, or Shane on the mound. Wes is the player to watch for on this team, as he is surely eager to prove he can win one of the biig ones without Cult West. Although the Magic have had plenty of ORWBL success in recent years, yu just know they are still craving a major championship. Given their deep runs in The Championship, it isn’t often the Magic have faced a Saturday pool play scare. 2020 could be the year though, as Circle City Wiffle (a fast-pitch wiffle from Indy) brings the Short Pistols to chase the Cup. A combination of CCW teams the Short Shorts and the Pork Pistols (for the record, Pork Shorts would’ve been a better team name), the Short Pistols feature a powerful lineup with national wiffle experience. Led by CCW commissioner Brendan Dudas, Pork Pistols slugger Thomas Hopkins, and Short Shorts defensive ace Taylor Dehart, the Short Pistols have as good a chance as anyone to make some noise during Sunday’s tournament. Speaking of making noise, the Indiana Blazers bring the infamous Dave Smith to this weekend’s tournament. Along with Griffin Smith’s younger brother, Braden, the Blazers won’t be new to the game come Saturday. In such a top-heavy pool, both the Chaw Dawgz and Stan Mikita’s Donuts (1-3 all time) will be battling it out with the Blazers for a spot in Sunday’s tourney.
County Line Kings
The One Handed Snags
Sunday locks: GP Black, County Line Kings
On the bubble: Skeeters, The One Handed Snags
Best shot at Migley: County Line Kings
A sneaky loaded pool, the Serge division offers up two teams fresh of deep runs in the previous slow pitch wiffleball tournament, the Cam Snead Tourney. GP Black and the County Line Kings are projected to battle it out here for the division crown. GP Black will feature their core three in Daivyn Davis, Tiki Seroszynski, and Brandon Campbell. Those three alone are enough to make GP Black a threat to make a run at Migley. Daivyn has had a breakout season both for the Panthers in ORWBL play, as well as his GP Black in tourney action. These three are no strangers to Migley either, reaching the coveted finals in 2018 as members of the Billy Goats and Panthers. However, the fourth for this team is a major question mark. With Kade Stone a late scratch, rumors have been circling that former Panther Brayden “Biscuits” Meyers will be joining GP Black for the second consecutive year at Hometown Days. Because of the question-marks surrounding that fourth spot, the County Line Kings are poised to continue their breakout 2020 at this year’s Championship. With ORWBL Triple Crown winner JP Kehoe leading the way at the plate and ace manager Mike Forrester at the helm, the Kings have all the makings of a Sunday cinderella. Joining the Kings for The Championship will be budding LaPorte Cyclone star Zach Christy. While their defensive alignment may be a question-mark heading into Saturday, if the Kings can figure out a solid rotation with those three alongside Bryce Bloode they could be in for a lengthy Sunday run. Even with those two young juggernauts, the remainder of this pool is very solid. Skeeters hasn’t found much tournament success in the past but have one of the brighter futures of the younger generation of wifflers. With Peyton Doran at the helm and Penn baseball standout Nolan Crail patrolling the field, Granger’s next generation have plenty of raw talent to match their enthusiasm. To make it to Sunday, though, Skeeter’s will have to get past Matt Kjeldsen’s The One Handed Snags (7-4 all time). With two playoff berths in as many appearances, they’ll be hard-pressed to miss out on Sunday’s fun because of a bunch of teenagers.
John Arndt Division
Cult West Warriors
Mo Mookie Mo Problems
The Belmont Transfer*
Sunday locks: Cult West, Mo Mookie Mo Problems
On the bubble: American Giants, Big Dawgs
Best shot at Migley: Cult West, obviously
Well, Cult West, let’s see what you have left in the tank. After missing out on the Hometown Cup finals for two consecutive years, the Warriors face a new narrative in 2020… being overlooked. Although they’ve still managed to win the World Wiffleball Championship the last two seasons, going this long without partaking in the Migley fun is surely leaving Scott Soos’ old bones ancy. They’ll be back with their well-known core four of Scott, Matt Soos, Jay Ryans, and Danny Hernandez. However, joining their Hometown squad for the first time will be long-time Muff Anthony Rieff. Anthony was a member of Cult West’s first World Wiffle championship, as well as a member of their ORWBL team back in the day. CW is hoping the sweet-swinging lefty will give them the spark they need to return to Migley. Despite them showing signs of mortality the last two years, Cult West is still a force to be reckoned with. No one would be surprised to see them hoisting the Cup Sunday afternoon. They don’t figure to face too much trouble Saturday, with Mo Mookie Mo Problems being the most likely to make some noise. Led by the infamous Mookie Smith, these wiffle vets are looking to bounce back in 2020. Brother Mike Smith, Chad Swain, and Ross Strieter lead the way for this team chalk full of ORWBL and Hometown Cup experience. Sobriety be damned, Mo Mookie Mo Problems is a team no one will want to play come Sunday. Especially taking into consideration x-factor Mo “Money” Burke, these gentlemen exemplify the fun The Championship is all about. The American Giants are surely a sleeper in this pool, as Scott Flagle and his South Bend boys boast an impressive 12-6 all time record coming into 2020’s championship. They may not have much competition for the third slot in this pool, as the Big Daws have only made it to Sunday’s tournament once in their five appearances (3-18 all time). Notable baseball pants-wearing squad The Belmont Transfer was supposed to fill out this pool, but were a late scratch to the tournament.
Bourissa Hills Wildcards
Sunday locks: Mechanics, Bourissa Hills Wildcards
On the bubble: Dirtbags, NWO
Best shot at Migley: Bourissa Hills Wildcards
With two high-profile teams, two up-and-coming teams, and a relative unknown, the Emmons division is an interesting albeit predictable pool. The Wildcards (formerly known as Rehlander’s Dactyls) are always a threat come Hometown Days but this year they have the makings of a legit contender. Bourissa Hills finished ORWBL with their first winning record in the Rehlander-era in large part thanks to a red-hot 11-1 finish to the season. With MVP candidate DJ Hill patrolling left field, the base-hitting Rehlander in right, Evan Layman on the mound, and former Muff Al Ament behind the plate, the Wildcards have an athletic and powerful lineup from top-to-bottom. Add in notorious HR-guy Cody Carlisle and the Wildcards have good reason to have their sights set for a Sunday run at Migley. Their pool-play matchup with the Mechanics projects to be a battle for the division. Led by ORWBL hit leader and reigning Gold Glove winner Kody Webb, the Mechanics boast one of the surest defenses in the tournament. Fellow Gold Glove winner Connor VanOverberghe patrols right field for this highly decorated outfield. With catcher Colton Boren and pitcher Aidan Cotter providing the power at the plate, the Mechanics will surely be looking to make a cinderella run come Sunday. If they can get enough offense to match their solid D, they could certainly be on upset watch during bracket play. Outside of these two established squads, the final playoff spot for the Emmons division seems to come down to two up-and-coming teams: NWO and the Dirtbags. Former County Line King Conner Surber leads NWO which will look to live via the long-ball. Hard hitter Hunter Whiteneck and long-time derby participant Tyler Graeber will definitely be in for a battle against their classmates on the Dirtbags. The Dirtbags feature two former Mechanics in Jacob Meyers and Hunter Groves. Groves is a stud in the field, while Meyers brings a huge stick to the plate. While their matchup with NWO may decide the teams’ playoff fates, a potentially heated match up with the Mechanics could throw a wrench in this entire pool.
Kaylor Keck Division
Maple City Purple
Soggy Bottom Boys
Sunday locks: Bray Bombers, Godfathers
On the bubble: Maple City Purple, Soggy Bottom Boys
Best shot at Migley: Bray Bombers
Despite having five capable teams, the Kaylor Keck Division is Newts-affiliate the Bray Bombers’ to lose. With a starting five full of wiffle experience from both ORWBL and Griffleball (a fast-pitch league) the Bray Bombers will prove to fit their name very well. Garrett Ruiz and Zarek Finley patrolling the field is sneakily one of the most dangerous outfields in the tournament, as no team will rob more home runs than the Bombers. Along with those two and Griffleball standouts Ryan Galiher and Jeremy Ratajczyk the Bray Bombers have home run potential up and down their lineup. It remains to be seen who will pitch for this experienced squad, but with the runs they’ll be putting up and the outfield behind them, it may not matter. However the rest of this pool has no slackers. Fan favorites the Godfathers bring back their OG squad after largely mixing things up in ORWBL in recent years. With staples Mark Haase and Matador Smith leading the way the Godfathers will be looking to replicate their 2018 elite eight run remembered as “Matadorville”. Maple City Purple has a different look than their previous Hometown Days teams. Despite missing Purple regulars Shane Anderson, Drew Luther, and the Arndts, this Maple City team has plenty of wiffle experience with Al Friedman, George Stainko, Brian Lockhart, and Bronson Severs. They’ll need to find a go-to HR guy, but having experience never hurts come Sunday morning. To get there, however, they’ll have to get through the former ORWBL franchise the Soggy Bottom Boys. They’ll be tanked by like 1 pm, but Jake Benner’s powerful bat is sure to scare a team or two throughout the day. It’s unlikely they’d show up for Sunday even if they made it, but they certainly won’t be new to the game on Saturday. Diamond Kings is a relative unknown, but they have plenty of athletes to give some of the more established teams in this pool a scare. Captain Garrett Calvert as well as slugger Nate Loyd will look to turn heads and make a surprise Sunday appearance.
Hudson Lake Heat
Just Here for the Beer
Sunday locks: Hudson Lake Heat, Clutch Players
On the bubble: Moose Soup, Leps 2
Best shot at Migley: Hudson Lake Heat
Clutch’s reputation aside, the Shail division is the most fun pool thus far. The Heat are notoriously a good hang, while the characters on Leps 2 speak for themselves. Just Here for the Beer… well, just read that name again. Moose Soup is a relative unknown, but these Minnesota wifflers are here for a fun time. When it comes to the actual game though, Clutch and the Heat are probably a step above the rest here. Clutch is no stranger to Sunday runs at Migley, having made the finals on 4 separate occasions. Andy Sieradzki is a stud and now an ORWBL-regular with the Godfathers, but it’s uncertain how much wiffle the rest of the squad has left in them. If they can figure it out, though, these vets cannot be counted out. The Heat took a year off from Hometown Days last year, with regulars Jared Monhaut and Bobby “Bats” Bushman appearing at Migley for the first time with the Grandmother’s Quilt. However the infamous Heat Hometown Days 5 is back in 2020. Along with those two, ORWBL MVP candidate Ben McDonald rounds out the Hudson Lake Big 3. The place-hitting Darian Luther and notorious speedster Jake McMillan round out the Heat’s 5. Teams seeing the Heat riding their bikes down Bray Street will shudder in fear, while spectators need to be aware their wives’ panties may drop. Those two are pretty solid locks for Sunday, but the final playoff spot will come down to Leps 2 and Moose Soup. Leps 2 features a number of Lynn Street Leps joining forces with some Hudson Lake Heat members. Luke “Utah” Armstrong and Addison “Ace” Kuntz give Leps 2 two lock-down pitchers, while Zach Brassell and Christian Plonka project to carry the load offensively and Ryan Moser providing the speed on the base paths. Kuntz is a major player to watch at this year’s tournament, as the rising star is fresh off a lights-out performance on the mound in ORWBL play against the reigning Hometown Cup champs, Granger. Moose Soup may be traveling from Minnesota, but these HRL:Twin Cities (an awesome wiffle league up north) will fit right into The Championship’s laid back atmosphere. Uniform guru Trent Steffes leads these wifflers alongside his ace brother, Auston. They’ll be motivated to make it to Sunday given the effort it took to get to New Carlisle, but once they get a taste of Tent City:Suburbs addition, winning may become secondary. Make no mistake though, while the style of play may be different, Moose Soup has played slow pitch wiffle before. These same five took on the infamous Wifflin’ for Wishes tournament. With that chemistry in tact, they could be a sleeper if they’re able to make it to Sunday.
Nick Arndt Division
Wiff Our Balls
Sunday locks: Looney Wifflers
On the bubble: The M.O.B., Prestige Worldwide, Wiff Our Balls
Best shot at Migley: Looney Wifflers
Dads and kids man. Dads and kids. Led by John Arndt, the Nick Arndt division is full of old and young wifflers alike. John’s team, the Looney Wifflers, feature a wide range of wiffle generations. John is a New Carlisle Wiffleball Hall of Famer, and for good reason. He is the definition of a veteran wiffler. Alongside his son, Nate’s, powerful bat and the slap-hitting Collin Babcock, the Looney Wifflers will be a pest no matter who they play on Sunday. Nate is the definition of a Hometown Days wiffler, as he seems to take it up a notch every year at The Championship. The MOB isn't what it usually is in tournaments, as BLT and Walt are taking their talents elsewhere in pursuit of Migley. However, Austin Traxler and his young brothers will look to keep the MOB’s name literally this weekend (being, literally, a mixture of brothers). Trax is a stud on the mound and on the plate, but it will be up to his teammates if he’ll be making a Sunday appearance. Prestige Worldwide features the father-son duo of Scott and Brock Sinkas. While this team may be young outside of Scott, these travel baseball kids definitely know how to swing a bat. Wiff Our Balls is making just their second appearance in 2020, but were able to make it to Sunday last year and even squeak out a tournament win in their debut, upsetting the One Hit Wonders as an 11 seed. Outside of the Looney Wifflers, this pool is pretty wide open 2-5 and should feature a number of close games.
Big Daddy Hacks
Lynn Street Leprechauns
New Carlisle Newts
Sunday locks: New Carlisle Newts, Lynn Street Leprechauns
On the bubble: Big Daddy Hacks, KC Tree
Best shot at Migley: New Carlisle Newts
The hometown Newts lead the way here in a pool with two current ORWBL squads as well as a former team. The Newts boast yet another star-studded roster in this year’s Championship. Sticking with their core four for The Championship of Garrett Curless, Koby Keck, Noah Shail, and Joey Schuster, New Carlisle is as dangerous as anyone entering 2020. After finishing as runners up last year, the Newts picked reigning ORWBL MVP Mark Richards to sure up their pitching staff. What happened the last time New Carlisle snaked a reigning MVP pitcher from his usual team for Hometown Days? They won the whole damn thing. With Mark’s prowess on the mound and the track record of their core four, Koby’s Newts are one of the clear-cut favorites in 2020. However they shan’t sleep-walk through Saturday. Lynn Street brings their best team yet to The Championship. Featuring Leps ORWBL wifflers Nick Brassell, Guy Wilson, Dylan Kegley, and Ev King, the Leps Hometown Days squad once again adds Hudson Lake Heat slugger Dusty Curl to the team. With a solid defense in Brassell and Wilson, an ace on the bump in strikeout king King, and Kegley and Curl’s big bats, the Leps have all the makings of their best Sunday to date. Big Daddy Hacks, led by Phil Mood and his Bloomington wifflers, have yet to miss out on the Sunday fun in two appearances. Despite the depth in this pool, they’ll be hard pressed to do so in 2020 without a hard fight. Former ORWBL franchise Lil’ Saints have struggled in recent years at The Championship, but have a good chance to make a Sunday appearance. Jimmy Garis, Bobby McClintock and company will look to make just their second playoff appearance ever. It’ll be Curl v Curl when the Leps take on KC Tree, as Dusty will take on Zack in a matchup with serious Sunday implications. An upset could seal KC’s fate for a Sunday appearance, but their matchup with Lil’ Saints will surely be one to watch as a potential battle for third.
Malort! I’ll Have Another
Sunday locks: Malort! I’ll Have Another, Pokeballs
On the bubble: The Naturals, Big Dawgz
Best shot at Migley: Pokeballs
Going out on a limb here and choosing unproven slow pitch wifflers, Pokeballs, to finish above the veteran Malorts. Pokeballs consists of SWBL (a medium speed pitch league in Missouri) wifflers who have plenty of experience swinging plastic. The league has been around since 2003 and features full baserunning similar to our style of play. Led by wiffle legend Sam Skibbie and his brother SWBL hit-leader Gus, the Pokeballs are going to be a tough out on Sunday afternoon given their years of wiffling experience. They have three legit HR-guys when you throw in Scott Pohle, and will surely sneak up on some teams given it being their first appearance. Just because I’m high on the Pokeballs doesn’t mean I’m low on the Malorts. This crew of world wiffleball legends will be hitting bombs and passing the bottle of Malort around all weekend. The Malorts feature two former champs, Grant Duncan and Nate Hansen, World Wiffle HOFers Mike Baniak (Go Flyers!) and John Premetz, as well as another World Wiffle namaste in Dan Lowe of the Loweriders. They have plenty of experience to their names, but a long Saturday of manning Tent City: Suburbs edition could jeopardize a potential Sunday bye.
Mike, if you’re reading this, you think UD makes the final four if the tourney doesn’t get cancelled? And, was this the best UD team you’ve seen? Lmk.
The Naturals have become one of The Championship’s most lovable teams in recent years, and for good reason. They’re fun, pretty solid, and have made yet to miss the tournament. It’s admirable how much they love the tourney, as they were the first non-Newts team to sign up for this year’s Championship. With a solid 16-9 all time record, it almost feels disrespectful to put them on the bubble. The first-year Big Dawgz will certainly threaten the Naturals third place spot in this pool, but I wouldn’t bet against this lovable Championship staple.
Hitting Bombs Smashing Moms
Sunday locks: Team Combat
On the bubble: Hitting Bombs Smashing Moms, Sex Penguins, Sluggers
Best shot at Migley: Team Combat
I’m just glad my team isn’t in this pool. The Soos division, unlike the guy it’s named after, is t-u-f-f tuff. I wouldn’t say this pool has a ton of contenders for Migley (prove me wrong, pls) but it’s just deep up and down. Team Combat is pretty overlooked compared to other teams on their level. Sure, they haven’t made it to Migley yet but they’ve certainly been one of the better teams at The Championship the last two years. With a stellar 10-3 record, Evan Sibbet and company are knocking at the door of Migley. These guys have plenty of HRL experience, but unlike Moose Soup they’re entering their third year playing this style of wiffle. They’re a team that could definitely surprise some people with a deep Sunday run. I will not be one of those people. Although they’re my favorites here, it is going to be an absolute battle for spots 2 and 3. Hitting Bombs Smashing Moms will be a tough out for any of these teams. County Line Kings Cy Young candidate Kadin Abegg brings a group of experienced baseball hitters and athletes who will compete with anyone on Saturday in hopes of qualifying for the tourney. The Sex Penguins are not only in the running for best team name, but the infamous Carl Coffee has put together a squad fully capable of making a run into Sunday. Led by one of the top closers in ORWBL, Greg Gierling, and a few Leroy wiffleball studs such as Ryan Voges and Dave Buczek, the Sex Penguins could be a scary team if they’re able to adjust to the different style of play. Carl is a great friend of WiffleTalk, so we’ll surely be rooting for this mishmash of wiffleball talent. And finally, the Sluggers. God this pool really is shaping up to be my favorite. Can you all make the tournament, please? Led by former ORWBL sluggers Adam Cseh and Conner Mowers, the ‘Slugs are looking to bounce back after an abysmal previous tournament showing. If Daniel Schafer (Go Flyers!) and Nate Marino can lock down the outfield, these guys’ big bats should be enough to carry them into Sunday… and possibly further.
Homerun or Bust
Sunday locks: Homerun or Bust, Speedy’s Chickenheads
On the bubble: Beef Barn, Febreze Brothers
Best shot at Migley: Speedy’s Chickenheads
Staying true to the guy this division was named after, the Curless division features a number of teams who can absolutely mash. Homerun or Bust, led by Matt Went, Neal Hickle, and the Forslund trio are a veteran team fully capable of putting the ball over the fence. They’ve yet to break through and make it to Migley, but in other tournaments they’ve shown they’re fully capable of playing with the best of them. Looking at this pool, it’s easy to see how a strong pool play showing could vault them into a high Sunday seed. However, they’ll first have to get past one of The Championship’s most recognizable teams; Speedy’s Chickenheads. Led by one of the greatest wifflers in tournament history, Matt Serge, Speedy’s is a force to be reckoned with even in their older years. The 2009 champs have made the playoffs a mind-numbing 13 times, including making it to Migley four times. As recently as 2017 the wiffle world was treated with a Speedy’s Migley run. This year, they’ll look to become the first team to make it to Migley in three different decades. To round out this pool, it looks like a battle for third between Beef Barn (7-5 all time) and the newly founded Febreze Brothers. These teams could not be more different. While Beef Barn, captained by Brad Bradshaw, has the age and experience, the Febreze Brothers has the youth and athleticism. Field location and wind direction will play a big outcome in this one, but personally I like the experience of Beef Barn in making their third playoff appearance.
Sunday locks: Woo Crew
Probably will make it to Sunday but TBD if they show up: Emery’s Army
On the bubble: Cannonballs Comin, Slappin Pitches
Best shot at Migley: Woo Crew
Woo Crew runs away with this pool if for nothing other than their absolutely incredible, over-the-top, can’t be beat, roster reveal video. Seriously, check it out if you haven’t seen it.
As far as how the roster will perform? I’d say pretty well. With Jimmy, Walt, and BLT, the Woo Crew has a trio of experienced and capable guys that have the potential to carry this team to a deep run on Sunday. They took down Cult West last year and have shown they can play with anybody. Their fielding is top-notch. Along with Jeff Spokas, this team will need to get hot at the plate but if their offense can match the D, look out. The major concern for this team is how badly they want to win. BLT has been quoted as saying that winning an ORWBL championship is bigger than winning The Cup, so it remains to be seen if he and his squad will be fully locked in… or focused on the upcoming ORWBL playoffs. If that focus slips for even a second, look for longtime franchise Emery’s Army to snatch up the top seed in this division. As always, EA will be led by the powerful Eric Johnson and do-it-all pitcher Jake Lawrence. Look for Eric to feast on the foul ball homer with base hitters Kevin May and young speedster Brady Burnette helping crank up his RBI numbers. Ryan Murphy is an X factor here, as his all-around game could help thrust EA to a deep Sunday run. Is this the year, Sean? Wiffle-favorite Sean Touhey’s are just 1-19 in five Championship appearances. Everyone’s favorite catcher has yet to play on Sunday since managing this squad. Does he care? No. Will he be there Sunday anyway? Of course. But this could be the year we see him playing Sunday, too. To do so, he’ll have to get past the second-year Slappin’ Pitches. These guys made it to Sunday in their first appearance last year, posting a 2-3 overall record. With wiffle blood running strong in them, Tyler Keck and company will be looking to make it two for two in Sunday appearances.
Read About It
Twin Branch Billy Goats
Sunday locks: Twin Branch Billy Goats, White Lightning
On the bubble: Knights, Oddballs
Best shot at Migley: White Lightning
The Ryans division features two teams with prior cinderella runs to Migley eager to return and finish the job they started years ago. After making it to Migley in 2016, WL has yet to return to the friendly confines. Despite not having lockdown left fielder Jasen Webb, they return namestays Levi Miller, Doug Benner, and former ORWBL MVP Bailey Rhed. Flat Rock Cyclone and general wiffle-whore Tyler Shupert replaces Webb for WL this year as they project to be one of the most solid defensive teams in the tournament. With a trio of base-hitters, it will be up to notorious HR guy Bailey Rhed to get hot if the White Lightning wants to return to Migley Field. However, opposing teams need know that allowing just a single run could prove their downfall when facing ace Doug Benner and Gold Glove candidate Levi Miller. Speaking of former runs to Migley, enter the Billy Goats. It’s been two years since the ‘Goats upset Cult West en route to making a Hometown Cup finals. Since then, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan. A disappointing 2020 ORWBL regular season could be just the motivation the ‘Goats need at The Championship, though. With their core four of Andrew Doran, Lucas Oletti, Frankie Minerva, and Keigan White, the ‘Goats are always a threat to get hot and make a run. This year, however, they’ll be adding another dangerous hitter to their lineup in Tony “The Doctor” Koch. The ORWBL legend brings his funky yet effective swing to a Billy Goats team that seemed to need just one more big bat in their lineup. It may take a bit to sort out these big personalities, but come Sunday no team will want to face the ‘Goats. After finally making a Sunday playoff in their sixth Hometown Cup, the Camden Bashaw-led Knights are back for more in 2020. These guys will somehow be playing in their seventh Hometown Cup this season. With Bashaw and his trio of budding stars, the Knights are a team ready to take the leap and potentially win a game on Sunday. Adin Newman is a future wiffle stud and should be able to help will his team to Sunday. That is, however, provided they can get past the Mason Monhaut Oddballs. Another team destined to be tanked by the afternoon games, Mason has strong wiffle blood and this won’t be nearly his first time swinging the plastic bat. A few strong sober performances could push these guys into Sunday’s bracket… and send the Knights packing. As far as Read About It… goodluck guys. Brett is the star of the show and he isn’t even playing with them. Dropping biscuits was probably a good call, but losing Migas to GP Black really hurts their chances at a Sunday run.
Red, White, and Booze
Zone 3 Cyclones
Sunday locks: Grandmother’s Quilt
On the bubble: Outlaws, Zone 3 Cyclones, Red White and Booze
Best shot at Migley: Grandmother’s Quilt
After making their first Hometown Cup finals under the alias Grandmother’s Quilt, Rhino and the gang are back and better than ever in 2020. Dan the Cat and Thoman are fresh off a runner-up finish at the Cam Tourney after they dropped a heartbreaker in the ‘ship. Playing with Erick in a tournament for the first time this year, the Quilt are a great pick to make a Sunday run for the Cup. With stellar defense, pitching, and arguably the top hitting lineup at the tournament, the Quilt will surely be looking to make a Finals with their guys completely intact. For the love of god though, get Dan some water. Was really worried about the dude at Cam’s Tourney… The Migley division is Grannys to lose, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other teams capable of making some noise. The Outlaws are one of the bigger wildcards in the whole tournament. Coming from CCW, these could potentially surprise a lot of people if they can have a quick adjustment to the style of play. Mitch Buis projects to be their ace on the mound, with Aaron Rodgers (no not THAT Aaron Rodgers) acting as their HR guy. They look like they’ll fit right in with the Hometown Cup vibe, so somebody show these guys where to find Malort. Zone 3 Cyclones took a big hit when their ace and MVP Mark Richards was picked up by the Newts, as they just aren’t the same team without him. They still have some capable guys, specifically captain Owen Satoski and Collin Froedge, but they’ll need the rest of their lineup to step up if they want to make a run on Sunday… or even make it there in the first place. With veteran Hometown Cup team Red White & Booze rounding out this pool, Zone 3 and the Outlaws better not overlook these older gents. While they have just one Sunday appearance, they’ll be no cake-walk for any of the teams in their division.