Ty Bothwell sees himself as a diamond survivor. Bothwell struck out 12 and was the winning pitcher in the 2018 IHSAA Class 2A state championship game as Boone Grove topped Southridge 5-4. Almost immediately, the pitcher headed to Indiana University to take summer classes. He was dealing with homesickness when fall practice rolled around. On the first day, the 5-foot-8 Bothwell tipped the scales at 158. He just knew was going to be sent packing. Instead, the left-hander was redshirted for the 2019 season. “Freshmen year was a rough one to survive,” says Bothwell. “I hope to keep a level head and hope that everything pays off in the end.” The southpaw spent the summer of 2019 with the Jimmy Turk-coached Western Nebraska Pioneers of the Expedition League. Bothwell made his IU debut in 2020, getting into three games and tossing three innings. The COVID-19 pandemic cut the season short. The pitcher reunited with Turk in the summer with the Coastal Plain League’s Macon (Ga.) Bacon. The fun seeker even found time to play in the LeRoy Wiffle® Association. “It’s not a lob league,” says Bothwell. “But I was not trying to throw my arm out. I would flick my wrist.” The 2021 baseball season at Indiana saw Bothwell — by this time up to 5-10 and 190 — make 11 mound appearances (four starts) and go 2-1 with one save and a 2.73 earned run average. In 33 innings, he struck out 43, walked 15 and held opponents to a .174 batting average. In his two seasons at IU, his ERA is 3.00 and he has 48 K’s and 19 walks in 36 innings while foes have hit .168. Between redshirting and getting an extra COVID year, Bothwell has three years of eligibility left. “It just now got out of my freshman year,” says Bothwell. “It took me three years.” “Hopefully I’ll get drafted (by Major League Baseball in 2022). But I’m not concerned with that right now. “I want to help my team win as many games as possible and go as far as we can.” Bothwell’s progress is tied to his desire and ability to take in knowledge and apply it. “My best quality as an athlete? It’s my my ability to learn,” says Bothwell. “I try to soak in as much as I can and learn from other people.” Bothwell observed other Hoosiers pitchers like Matt Litwicki,Braden Scott,Tommy Sommer, Cal Krueger and Grant Sloan. “These are guys I looked up to,” says Bothwell. “It’s a combined knowledge of all those dudes.” Bothwell’s pitching coach his first three years at IU was Justin Parker (who recently left for the University of South Carolina). “He believe in me from the beginning,” says Bothwell of Parker. “It’s not like I came in as the best pitching prospect. I’ve grown so much under his wing. I wouldn’t be where I am without him and the rest of the coaching staff at Indiana.” That staff has been led by Jeff Mercer. “He just wants to win,” says Bothwell of Mercer. “It got that impression from the second I met him. You can tell he’s got so much baseball knowledge. He knows what he’s doing. “He’s super honest (in his assessments) and that’s all for the betterment of the team.” Bothwell prefers to be a positive person. “I like to brighten people’s days,” says Bothwell. “I’m more on the happy-go-lucky side.” He’s also has drive to keep going through the adversity. “I don’t want to be told I can’t do something,” says Bothwell, who is back in the CPL this summer with the Jesse Lancaster-coached Morehead City (N.C.) Marlins. His four-seam fastball has been up to 94 mph. His spin rate with the pitch has been up to 2550 rpm. “It has a rising action and goes up and in to lefties,” says Bothwell of the four-seamer. “A lot of bats have been broken because of that.” The lefty also has a change-up, curveball and slider that he throws from a high three-quarter overhand arm slot. “The change-up sometimes has a horizontal fade and sometimes a drop,” says Bothwell. “The vertical is better than the horizontal. “My change-up is equal to my fastball in terms of an ‘out’ pitch.” Bothwell has worked this summer to make his curve more of a 12-to-6 with vertical break. The “cut” slider moves on a horizontal plane with late break. “On day where there’s a true four-pitch mix it’s pretty good,” says Bothwell. Born in Merrillville, Ind., Dec. 8, 1999, Bothwell grew up on a ranch near Hebron, Ind. He attended Porter Lakes Elementary School then went into the Boone Grove system for middle school and high school. His family hosted a memorial rodeo for a grandfather who died when Ty was very young. Mother Mikki Bothwell, who was once nationally-ranked in barrel riding, is preparing to compete in that sport at the Lake County Fair, which opens Aug. 5 in Crown Point, Ind. Father Todd Bothwell also likes to rope with his horse. Mikki Bothwell works at American Inter-Fidelity Exchange. Todd Bothwell owns A&B Manufacturing. Both are Crown Point High School graduates. Power-hitting younger brother Trevor Bothwell (16) is heading into his junior year at Boone Grove. Ty Bothwell says he did not take baseball seriously until high school though he did play travel ball for the Lake of the Four Seasons-based Warriors and Indiana Playmakers before spending four summers (14U to 17U) with the Hammond Chiefs — three with head coach Jim Tucker and one with head coach Dave Sutkowski. He has fond memories of time spent at Hammond’s Riverside Park, the former home of the Chiefs. At Boone Grove, Bothwell played three seasons for Rollie Thill and his senior year for Pat Antone. “He was in my corner,” says Bothwell of Thill. “He was a great coach to have.” Antone came to the Wolves talking about winning a state title. He got players into the weight room and doing Driveline training. “He preaches that we are going to win,” says Bothwell of Antone. “That dude embedded it in our brains. “He introduced so many aspects of the game that we never had as a team. The guys really invested themselves and you could see the growth. It was crazy how far we were able to grow in that one little season.” Bothwell is an Animal Behavior major at IU. He sees a future in animal husbandry. “It’s like a zookeeper,” says Bothwell. “I’m into reptiles and amphibians. It’s been my thing since I was young.”
Braden Scott enjoyed the best outing of his young professional baseball pitching career in his most-recent start for the Evansville (Ind.) Otters. On July 24 at Gateway, the left-hander went 7 2/3 shutout innings, fanning seven, walking two and giving up three hits in 29 batters faced and was selected as independent Frontier League Pitcher of the Week. Through six starts and 34 innings, Scott is 3-2 with a 2.91 earned run average. “It’s been a really good experience,” says Scott, who finished his collegiate career in the spring at Indiana University. Scott signed with the Otters on June 21. In his first appearance June 24 at Joliet, he tossed seven shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and two walks. He faced 26 batters and gave up two hits. Scott, 23, moved to 2-0 as he won again on July 1 in the first game of a home doubleheader against against Florence. He fanned five and walked one while yielding six hits in the game’s first six innings. He faced 23 hitters. On July 6, Scott (2-1) took the loss in a game at historic Bosse Field against Joliet. He pitched six innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. He allowed six hits and four runs in 24 batters faced. Scott went just four innings and took the loss in the second game of a July 11 doubleheader against visiting Schaumburg. He struck out four, walked one and gave up six runs and seven hits while facing 21 batters. In a no-decision July 17 against visiting Southern Illinois, Scott hurled 3 1/3 innings with two strikeouts, five walks and gave up three hits and one run in facing 18 batters. Scott’s first pro team is guided by Andy McCauley, who recorded his 1,000th career managerial victory July 2 at Gateway. “He’s been around the game a long time and he knows what he’s doing,” says Scott of McCauley. “I like the way he treats us — like professionals. “You come in and get your stuff done.” Evansville pitching coach Max Peterson has also aided the 6-foot-3, 215-pound southpaw with approach and execution. “He’s helped me mentally on the mound and with how I have to carry myself,” says Scott. “I’ve thrown a cutter for two years, but I never threw it consistently. “Now it’s a big go-to pitch. I’m able to use it for my game now.” When thrown correctly, the cutter has more horizontal than vertical break and goes into a right-handed batter and away from a lefty. Throwing from the left side has always been an advantage for Scott. “I’ve never thrown a ball that’s been exactly straight,” says Scott. “I’ve been able to miss a lot of barrels and not give up a lot of hard hits.” Scott has five pitches — four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, change-up and cutter. His four-seam sits at 88 to 90 mph. The slider is more a hybrid between a slider and curve. “In my last start I was almost solely throwing fastballs and sliders,” says Scott. “I threw maybe four cutters.” Scott employs a “circle” change. As part of the Otters’ five-man starting rotation, Scott competes every fifth or sixth day. His next start is scheduled Friday, July 30 against Southern Illinois at Bosse Field. On the day after a start, Scott does some throwing and gets in an aggressive cardio session to get the blood flow going. He is also charting that night’s pitchers. He throws a bullpen two days before his next start. A day before a start, the lefty gets in a workout with movement and stretching and some light long toss — maybe 150 feet. He then sits in the bullpen and watches how pitchers attack hitters and looks for batter tendencies. A 2016 graduate of Shakamak Junior-Senior High School in Jasonville, Ind., Scott played two seasons at Olney (Ill.) Central College (2017-18) and three at Indiana (2019-21). Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Chip Sweet and Todd Gambill were his head coaches at Shakamak. Scott was on varsity for three years. “He was awesome,” says Scott of Sweet. “I grew up with his daughter (Mariah). We won (an IHSAA Class 1A) state championship in his final year of coaching (2014). “He taught me how to carry myself on and off the baseball field.” Gambill took the Lakers back to the state title game in 2015 (finishing as runner-up) — this time at the 2A level. “He did an awesome job,” says Scott of Gambill. Scott was a pinch hitter in the 2014 1A title game and started at first base in the 2015 2A final. Scott played for Blue Knights head coach Dennis Conley and assistants Andy Lasher and Bryce Labhart at Olney Central. Conley doubled as head coach and pitching coach. “Conley made a pretty big impact on my baseball career,” says Scott. “He still helps me. “He’s the reason I’ve got this position at Evansville. He’s been around the game long enough that he knows just about everybody out there.” Jeff Mercer is the Hoosiers head coach and Justin Parker was the pitching coach at IU until taking that role at the University of South Carolina in recent weeks. “(Mercer) is a phenomenal coach,” says Scott. “His main goal is player development. (Parker) is very good job of player development as well. “I wish (Mercer) all the best and hope the program keeps trending in the right direction.” Scott made 39 appearances (all in relief) for the Hoosiers, going 4-0 with one save and 3.25 earned run average. He produced 81 strikeouts and 21 walks in 55 1/3 innings. In 2021, he got into 15 games and was 2-0 with a 4.08 ERA. He whiffed 28 and walked eight in 17 2/3 innings. He also earned his Sports Marketing & Management degree. A starter at Olney Central, Scott was used mostly in relief during his last years of summer ball. Scott played for the M.I.N.K. Collegiate Baseball League’s Ozark Generals (Springfield, Mo.) and the Prospect League’s Tyler Wampler-coached Terre Haute (Ind.) Rex in the summer of 2017. He was with the Northwoods League’s Willmar (Minn.) Stingers then the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association National Team that placed second at the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., in 2018. Scott played for the Coastal Plain League’s Morehead City (N.C.) Marlins in 2019 and CPL’s Macon (Ga.) Bacon in 2020. Among his Bacon teammates were fellow IU pitchers Connor Manous, Ty Bothwell, Matt Litwicki and Brayden Tucker. Before landing with the Otters, Scott pitched for the 2021 Rex, coached by A.J. Reed. Braden is the son of Jimmie Scott and Andee Mullins. Younger siblings include Bailey Scott (21) and Kaleb Gadberry (18). Both parents were athletes at Sullivan (Ind.) High School. Bailey Scott was involved in volleyball, cheerleading and track at Shakamak and is now a nursing student at Ivy Tech in Terre Haute. Caleb Gadberry played golf at Shakamak, where he graduated in 2021.
The 12-team Grand Park league sprung up when other circuits opted out because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Used mostly as a Tuesday starter (most CSL games were played on Mondays and Tuesdays with training at Pro X Athlete Development Wednesday through Friday), Tucker drove weekdays from Brazil to Grand Park to train or play for the Tropics, a team featuring Josh Galvan as manager and Ryan Cheek as an assistant coach.
Used mostly as a starter with some relief work on scheduled “bullpen” days, Tucker made one trip to Columbia, S.C. He made five mound appearances (three starts) with an 0-0 record, 4.97 earned run average, 14 strikeouts and seven walks in 12 2/3 innings.
His summer four-seam fastball was thrown at 90 to 93 mph, occasionally touching 94. That’s up from 89 to 92 and touching 93 in the spring and 89 to 91 and touching 92 as a freshman in 2019.
Thrown from a three-quarter arm angle like all his pitches, Tucker’s fastball is thrown with a split-finger grip and has sinking action.
His slider moves from 1-to-7 or 2-to-8 on the clock face, meaning the movement (both horizontal and vertical) is in to the left-handed batter and away from a righty.
He throws a “circle” change-up.
He’s working to add two other pitchers to his selection — a curveball an cutter (cut fastball).
“The curve plays off the slider,” says Tucker. “It is more vertical than horizontal.”
Tucker, who has logged two springs with the Hoosiers (he has started four of his nine games and is a combined 2-1 with a 4.10 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 11walks in 26 1/3 innings) and played in the summer of 2019 with the Prospect League’s Terre Haute (Ind.) Rex. That team was managed by Tyler Wampler. Jeremy Lucas coached pitchers and catchers. The PL did not take the field this summer either.
Soon after high school graduation, Tucker enrolled in summer school. By the fall, the coaching staff had changed and Jeff Mercer was in charge with Parker as pitching coach.
“I don’t have one single word to described what it’s like to describe working with them,” says Tucker of Mercer, Parker and the rest of the IU staff. “It’s very detailed and developmental. It’s structured to the point that you don’t need down time. You always have something to do.”
Even when pitchers are engaged in throwing bullpens, long toss or some other specific thing, they are expected to do something productive and help their teammates. The same is true for all of the Hoosiers.
Tucker was born in Terre Haute and grew up in New Palestine, Ind., moving to Brazil as he was starting high school. His father (Jim) grew up in Clay County and his mother (Tammy) was raised on the south side of Terre Haute.
Braydon started in T-ball in New Palestine and was 6 when he made an Indiana Bandits 9U travel team. He attended a camp at the old Bandits Yard in Greenfield, Ind., conducted by Harold Gibson (father of Texas Rangers pitcher Kyle Gibson). Jim Tucker retained the information and used it with Braydon.
After playing two more years with the Bandits, there were three summers with the Indiana Prospects (led by Shane Stout and Mark Peters) and one with the Hancock County-based Indiana Travelers (Mark Horsely).
From 13U to 16U, Tucker played for coaches Rick Arnold and Dan Metzinger with the Ironman Baseball out of Louisville. The 17U summer was spent with the Cincinnati Spikes. Trent Hanna was the head coach and was assisted by Aaron Goe, Stephen Rodgers and Joe Janusik.
Jim Tucker is a senior sourcing team leader at GE Aviation in Terre Haute. Tammy Tucker works is at Catalent Pharma Solutions in Bloomington. She had been in quality management at Rolls-Royce in Indianapolis.
Braydon (who turned 21 in July) has two brothers — Dakota (27) and Trey (19). Dakota Tucker played baseball and football at New Palestine then football at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, where he earned a mechanical engineering that he now uses at Ford Motor Company in Detroit. Trey Tucker is a sophomore at Indiana State University in Terre Haute. He played baseball and basketball at Northview.
Braydon Tucker, who is a Sports Marketing & Management major at IU, represented the Knights on the hardwood for three years. Now back at school, he is taking five classes this fall (all on online). Class begins Monday, Aug. 24. Tucker says baseball facilities are not to open until Sept. 17.
“I was pretty skinny,” says Manous, who Manous earned four baseball letters and three monograms in basketball with the Mustangs.
Through weightlifting, proper eating and maturity, the 6-footer now weighs 195.
Playing for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Bob Shinkan, he struck out 106 batters in 64 1/3 innings and threw five complete games with a 0.76 earned run average as a Munster senior in 2016. He was Post-Tribune Player of the Year as a senior and a three-time all-Northwest Crossroads Conference selection.
As a junior, Manous went 6-1 with an 1.56 ERA and 57 strikeouts. His sophomore season for the Mustangs produced a 7-1 mark, 0.48 ERA and 54 strikeouts.
“He was a real good mentor,” says Manous of Shinkan. “He was a good person I was able to talk to if I ever needed anything.
“You’re always able to have fun when you’re playing with him.”
Mike Hackett was head basketball coach during Manous’ Munster career.
At the start of his collegiate career, Manous threw a fastball that sat around 88 to 91 mph and occasionally hit 92 or 93.
Since Justin Parker joined the Hoosiers staff as pitching coach, he has helped make adjustments that has the righty sitting at 90 to 93. In 2019, he lit up the radar at 96.
“I’ve learned so much about pitching from him,” says Manous of Parker, who was brought in when Jeff Mercer was hired as head coach in the summer of 2018, making 2019 their first campaign in Bloomington. “He’s changed a lot of my career. He’s made me advance a lot more than I ever before.
“My velo jumped when he got to school. My curve ball got better. Growing up and maturing as a person — he helped with that, too.”
In three seasons on the mound for Indiana, Manous has made 40 appearances (three starts) with a 2-3 record, two saves, a 2.81 earned run average, 49 strikeouts and 20 walks in 67 2/3 innings.
In the COVID 19-shortened 2020 season, the righty relieved in six of IU’s 15 games and was 0-0 with an 0.00 ERA. In eight innings, he fanned 12 and walked three.
What’s it like playing for a Mercer-coached team?
“It’s a lot of hard work and trust in the process,” says Manous. “Each day you’ve got to get better.
“You see results six months, a year later — as a lot of us have seen.”
It was through Parker’s connections to Macon (Ga.) Bacon head coach Jimmy Turk that Manous landed with the Coastal Plain League team this summer. After logging a few innings with the Tropics in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., the hurler reported to Macon June 25.
In six relief appearances, Manous is 0-0 with one save, an 0.00 ERA, 13 strikeouts and four walks in 8 2/3 innings. A recent four-seam was clocked at 94 mph and he’s had a spin rate as high as 2,450. Throwing from a high arm slot, he also uses a 12-to-6 curveball and a “circle” change-up.
Like he’s done the past two seasons at Indiana, Manous has been working at the back of the bullpen.
His mindset — no matter where he gets into the game — is the same.
“Just be yourself and compete,” says Manous. “You don’t want to give up a run. That’s how I am in the first or the ninth inning. I don’t really change.
“You’ve got to be composed. The ball is going to be taken deep if you don’t execute your pitches.”
Manous, 22, cites his drive as his top athletic strength.
“I hate to lose in anything,” says Manous. “I’m always super competitive, It’s how I grew up.
“I hated losing to my dad or brother.”
Perry Manous is a computer software developer. Outfielder Garrett Manous (20) just completed his freshmen season at Indiana and plays for the Tropics in the Grand Park league this summer. Kelly Manous, wife of Perry and mother of the two boys, is a personal trainer.
Left-hander Bothwell (a Boone Grove High School graduate) is among the CPL’s strikeout leaders with 21 in 14 1/3 innings. Right-hander Litwicki (Lake Central) has whiffed 10 in seven innings. Southpaw Scott (Shakamak) has fanned 15 in 9 1/3 innings. The Bacon pitching coach is Josh Teichroew.
Migley Field was started with some scrap fencing in 2006 and elements have been added over the years, including Wrigley-like scoreboard and marquee.
Before each home game, they play recordings of retired Wrigley Field organist Gary Pressy and the voice of radio play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes welcomes everyone. Regular-season home games start at 1:20 p.m. as do the Hometown Cup semifinals.
The Hometown Cup draws 70 to 80 teams most years. Twenty fields are used during Saturday pool play — some at the Little League park and some at New Prairie High School.
The Top 48 return Sunday for single-elimination play with the semifinals and championship on Migley Field. Dimensions roughly emulate those in Chicago. It’s 95 feet down the left field line, 98 in the power alleys, 100 to center and 93 down the right field line.
This year, all-time home run leader Scott Soos of the Newts belted his 400th circuit clout. The league has been keeping stats since about 2010.
While Hometown Days is canceled for 2020, the Hometown Cup aka The Wiffle® Ball Championship will go on July 24-26. The home run derby is July 24, pool play July 25 and the Top 48 in single-elimination plus the semifinals and finals July 26. The last two rounds are at Migley Field.
Past finals have drawn hundreds of spectators. BroadcastSport.net is again planning to stream the semifinals and finals on the internet.
ORWBL is one of the few Wiffle® Ball leagues around that has home fields for all its teams — Palace of Bourissa Hills (301 St. Meridian St., New Carlisle) for the Wildcards, The Garage (7564 E. 400 N., Rolling Prairie) for the Kings, The Barnyard (9352 S 150 W., Union Mills) for the Cyclones, Magic Park (Kesling Park, A Street, LaPorte) for the Magic, various locations for the Heat, The Spin Factory (3810 Lincolnway East, Mishawaka) for the Meatspins, The Goat House (53105 Ironwood Rd., South Bend) for the Billy Goats, Manor Field (2332 Kenilworth Dr., Elkhart) for BFAM, Cam Snead Field (51972 Gentian Lane, Mishawaka) for the Panthers, The Hideout (410 French St., Niles, Mich.) for the Godfathers, Rocko’s Park (29481 Lynn St., New Carlisle) for the Leprechauns, Migley Field (500 S. Bray St., New Carlisle) for the Newts, The Land Down Under (110 S. Harris St., New Carlisle) for Emery’s Army and Helmet Head Field (10109 S. 600 W., Union Mills) for the Goon Squad.
Week 4 (June 3) players of the week were Eric Wodrich (Meatspinners) in the American League and Nate Hansen (Leprechauns) in the National League. Wodrich went 15-of-22 (.682 average) with six homers, 12 RBIs and 11 runs. Hansen was 10-of-17 (.588) with eight homers, eight RBIs at the plate and went 2-1 in 19 innings pitched with a 7.68 earned run average.
The ORWBL plays tripleheaders on Sundays for a 24-game regular season. Playoffs run through August. Games are six innings and last 45 minutes to an hour each. The league plays with a pitcher, catcher and three fielders.
The pitching rubber is between 30 and 40 feet from home plate. There will be no called strikes, balls or walks. Batters can strike out swinging. Foul tips caught by the catcher with two strikes will also be a strikeout. The pitcher’s hand rule applies for outs. There is no bunting allowed in slow-pitch Wiffle® Ball.
It’s always been pitch-to-hit league. Every pitch has to have some sort of arc.
“It was built as a fun league — giving the batter a pitch to hit,” says Magic manager and ORWBL commissioner Alex Friedman. “You get action all the time. Balls are being batted into the field of play. Defense has to be played.
“People enjoy watching our style.”
Maple City is the defending three-time league champion. Friedman took over ORWBL commish duties from Keck.
Friedman says one of the reasons the league uses three outfielders is that Bourissa Hills — home of the former league champion Pterodactyls — is so wide and there’s so much outfield ground to cover.
Covering the world of ORBWL is the Don’t Get Wifflenated podcast. WiffleTalk.com follows all things slow-pitch Wiffle® Ball.
There’s even a ORWBL Hall of Fame.
The Dirtyard (1117 W. Epler Ave., Indianapolis) is known as one of the top Wiffle® Ball fields in the country.
Circle City will be hosting the National Wiffle® World Series there Sept. 18-20 (it moved from Morenci, Mich.).
The league typically plays Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. There is a one-day round robin tournament to get all eight teams to the field at one time and promote league camaraderie. That recent Sunday event went from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are lights at The Dirtyard.
To be a National Wiffle® member league, a website, statistics and video presence must be kept.
“It’s to prove you are a competitive Wiffle® Ball league,” says Circle City president/commissioner and Short Shorts player Brendan Dudas, oversees The Dirtyard in his parent’s backyard. “You have to be 18 to play for liability reasons.”
Most teams have there own Twitter accounts. Games are often streamed live. Podcasts keep Wiffle® wackos informed.
Dudas and has friends were middle schoolers fooling around in the back yard with a ball and bat in 2009. Four years later, Circle City Wiffle® Ball became a reality.
“It’s been slowly evolving ever since,” says Dudas, who played baseball at Perry Meridian High School and the University of Indianapolis and coached at Center Grove with former Perry coach John Carpenter.
“All the guys in the league are either former athletes,” says Dudas. “They like the competitive nature of sports in general.
“It’s low impact, a controlled environment and we still fulfill the competitive drive we all have. We enjoy being around each other and having fun.”
Circle City plays six-inning games. It’s 3-on-3 (pitcher and two fielders). There can be on a roster and all of them can bat. It’s 45 feet between bases, 47 1/2 feet between the rubber and the strike board.
“You have to have (quality) pitchers in fast pitch (Wiffle® Ball) or it becomes a walk fest,” says Dudas. “In the national tournament, it’s all about pitching. The recipe to win tournament is throw a shutout, make one big play and hit a home run. Scores are often 1-0 and 2-1.”
The Dirt Yard dimensions are 89 feet down the left field line, 97 to left-center, 95 to right-center, 102 to center and 85 down the right field line.
Dudas has observed that most leagues have fields between 75 to 100 down the lines and 85 to 110 to center.
“You get further than than and it gets hard to poke the ball out,” says Dudas.
When the 8 Balls joined the league in 2017, they brought snazzy uniforms with them and the league soon followed suit and now sublimated jerseys are a Circle City requirement.
“We encourage guys to run wild with it,” says Dudas, who cites Keck and the ORWBL as the inspiration for creating his league.
“It’s fun to do something competitive one you get out of high school” says Ratajczyk. “It satisfies everybody’s competitive desires in the summer.
“We had enough friends that wanted to do it consistently. We’ve embraced it as a weekend getaway where we get to see our friends.”
Traditionally a Sunday league, Griffleball went to four weekend tournaments (pool play Saturday and single-elimination Sunday) for the 2020 slate. Remaining dates are June 27-28, July 18-19, Aug. 1-2.
New players can pick the team of their choice. There is also a league waiver wire.
Every squad picks out new flashy uniforms each season.
“We usually sit down in January and February and brainstorm,” says Ratajczyk of Griffleball planning. “This year was the exception with coronavirus.”
While childhood 1-on-1 games between Ryan Galiher and Kyle Lidster can be cited as the genesis of Griffleball, the league’s modern origins date to 2010 when it played on a public basketball court and set up fencing around the grass — ask the Griffle Grounds in Highland.
The 2017 all-star game was played at Bridges’ Scoreboard Restaurant & Sports Bar in Griffith and the league moved its games there for 2018 and 2019.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, a new field — The Warehouse, 5000 W. 45th Ave., Gary — was selected for 2020 action. Opening Day was June 6.
The first eight years of Griffleball, teams were kept intact year after year. The last two years, things were shaken up and there was a re-drafting of players.
Even with the moves, Griffleball has stuck with the same field dimensions — 60 feet down the foul lines, 85 to the gaps and 80 to center.
Griffleball games are five innings and last around an hour. There are four players per team though there is only a pitcher and two fielders at a time. Everyone in the lineup hits.
There is no catcher in fast-pitch Wiffle® Ball, but a strike board (which is 20 inches wide, 32 inches tall and 12 inches off the ground).
There are two outs per inning, five balls for a walk or two hit batsmen in the same at-bat.
Ratajczyk, who has played in all four National Wiffle® (formerly National Wiffle Ball League Association) leagues in Indiana, says fast pitch Wiffle Ball is all about the batter vs. pitcher duel and the scores of games often rely on the elements.
“If the wind is blowing, there will be no runs,” ays Ratajczyk. “If the wind is blowing out, there will be a ton of runs.”
The GBL has accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Snap Chat.
LWA plays all its games at a six-field compound in an incorporated community near Crown Point on land owned by commissioner/president and Leroy Riot owner/manager Tim Wiltjer. The address is 4504 E. 145th Ave., Crown Point.
In 2020, the league includes 12 teams — Backdoor Sliders, Barn Stormers, Bushleague Badgers, Fabulous Flamingos, Lake County Liners, Leroy Riot, Marvelous Maniacs, Mighty Melon Heads, Noble Narwhals, Porter County Porkers, Squints Sluggers and Walking Tacos.
The Sluggers are the defending champions.
Ty Bothwell (a redshirt pitcher for Indiana University baseball in 2020) and Bo Hofstra (a junior pitcher at Purdue University) are on the Badgers.
There are seven players on each roster with four players competing in games. There are three players on defense — one pitcher and two fielders. The fourth player keeps stats or takes a break.
All four players have to pitch one inning, giving everyone a chance to bat, field and pitch. Regular-season games are five innings with two games a night. A team’s best pitcher goes two innings with one apiece for the other three.
Post-season games are six innings. Forty-eight players compete each Wednesday.
“It breaks up the week,” says Wiltjer of the preferred gameday.
A unique feature of LWA is that only the manager can stay with a team year after year while the rest of the rosters are shuffled.
“We start fresh,” says Wiltjer. “We don’t have a Golden State Warriors thing going on.
“As commissioner, I want to see our guys get along and get together. Teams from so many different cities with so many friend groups.”
The LWA is numbers-driven.
“I’m obsessed with stats,” says Wiltjer.
To keep things competitive, Wiltjer has devised a “salary cap” based on the batting and pitching numbers put up by players. All awards are stat-based. The highest salary is the MVP. Ironman awards go to those with the most at-bats or most innings pitched.
While the first official LWA season was 2014, Wiffle Ball was part of a Lawn Olympics on the property before that.
Leroy plays a hybrid style of Wiffle® Ball. Throwing fast pitch, pitchers can run up a count of up to five balls. After that, he moves closer to the batter and lobs it.
Once a 10-ball count is reached, the batter can elect to take a single or he can elect to keep hitting. At 15 balls, it becomes an automatic double, 20 an automative triple and 25 an automatic home run.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” says Wiltjer. “It gets runs all the time.”
Teams rotate among the six fields. Two fields are symmetrical with dimensions being 85 feet down the lines and 95 to center.
The four other wider fields give a flavor for Major League Baseball parks, including Boston’s Fenway Park (short porch in right and deeper in right center), Houston’s Minute Maid Park (deeper center, shallow left and right), Pittsburgh’s PNC Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
It’s 45 feet between bases with 48 feet between pitching rubber and strike board.
Batting lineup pitching lineup are the same and must be submitted 24 hours before the game.
The LWA normally begins the first or second week of May. There’s an 11-week regular season (22 games per team).
The 12th team does not make the playoffs. Teams seeded 7-10 go into a single-elimination “death bracket” with the winner earning the No. 8 in the Final Eight. Teams then play two-game series plus a one-inning sudden death game to break ties (if necessary). There can be extra innings.
Pitchers switch every inning during the playoffs.
“All four Indiana (National Wiffle®) leagues are very, very unique,” says Wiltjer. “That’s what makes it awesome.”
Going Corn is the podcast of the Leroy Wiffle® Association.
Indiana players are well-represented on the rolls of the Wiffy Awards presented by National Wiffle®.
Migley Field (ORWBL) was the National Field of the Year in 2019.
The New Carlisle Newts (ORWBL) had the Team Jersey of the Year in 2019.
Friedman (ORWBL) was National Commissioner of the Year in 2018 and National Manager of the Year in 2017.
Nick Arndt (ORWBL) belted his way to National Home Run Champ and Jay Ryans (ORWBL) tossed his way to National Closer of the Year — both in 2012.
Garrett Curless (ORWBL) powered to National Home Run Champ in 2011.
The Dirtyard (CCW) was chosen as National Field of the Year in 2018.
Mid City Moonshots (CCW) sported the Team Logo of the Year in 2019
Caleb Jonkman (LWA) was selected as National Player of the Year in 2017 and 2019 and thumped his way to National Home Run King in 2019. He also is regular in all four Indiana National Wiffle® leagues.
Matt Dykstra (LWA) was National Closer of the Year in 2016.
The 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Series is in the books.
Despite wet weather in South Bend, Ind., many of the best players from around the state got a chance to show what they can do on the diamond — first with the annual Junior Showcase Friday, July 21 and then the recent graduates took to Four Winds Field for three games following a Friday night banquet featuring keynote speaker Greg Kloosterman and the announcement of Roncalli’s Nick Schnell as IHSBCA Player of the Year.
A scheduled doubleheader Saturday became a rain-shortened game. That led to a 9 a.m. Sunday doubleheader.
Declaring, “This ones for you Grandpa!!” on Twitter, Fort Wayne Carroll’s Hayden Jones went out and took MVP honors for the North/South Series in memory of a Bill Jones.
The North coaching staff was head coach Steve Stutsman (Elkhart Central) plus assistants Steve Asbury (Elkhart Central), Shane Edwards (Oak Hill), John Huemmer (Mishawaka) and Lonnie Weatherholt (Elkhart Central).
Umpires were Tony Gaugler, Bob Lichtenberger, Jay Miller and Corey Stewart in Game 1, Mike Alberts, Terry Baker, Kevin Kirsch and Eric Erb in Game 2 and Laird Salmon, Zach Sliwa, Bob Schellinger and Steve Kajzer in Game 2.
The 45th North/South Series is planned for one week after the IHSAA State Finals in Madison, Ind.
Scorekeepers: Bill & Sue Forgey of Huntington, Ind.
Commemorative plague for founder Jim Reinebold at 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South Series in South Bend. (Steve Krah Photo)
Commemorative plague for founder Ken Schreiber at 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South Series in South Bend. (Steve Krah Photo)
Elkhart Central and North head coach Steve Stutsman makes his parting remarks at 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South Series in South Bend. (Steve Krah Photo)
Making out the Game 3 lineup for Game 3 of the 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South Series in South Bend are (from left): New Palestine’s Shawn Lyons, Decatur Central’s Jacob Combs, Castle’s Curt Welch and Lanesville’s Zach Payne. (Steve Krah Photo)
A T-shirt to commemorate the 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South Series in South Bend. (Steve Krah Photo)
The Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association membership has voted for its 2018 all-state teams.
Players were selected for first team and honorable mention in four classes.
Players selected in the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft — Nick Schnell (Roncalli), Jack Perkins (Kokomo), Bradley Brehmer (Decatur Central), Jared Poland (Indianapolis Cathedral) and Timmy Borden (Providence) — are automatically all-state.
The honorees are listed below:
2018 IHSBCA ALL-STATE
Garrett Burhenn (Lawrence Central)
Luke Albright (Fishers)
Grant Richardson (Fishers) xxx
Avery Short (Southport)
Braydon Tucker (Northview)
Hayden Jones (Fort Wayne Carroll) x
Ethan English (Jeffersonville)
Cam Dennie (Plymouth)
Matt Wolff (Fishers)
Craig Yoho (Fishers)
Ryan Robison (New Albany) xx
Ian McCutcheon (Huntington North)
Damon Lux (Shelbyville)
Riley Perlich (Fort Wayne Carroll)
Austin Peterson (Chesterton)
Zach Messinger (Castle)
Derek Haslett (Indianapolis CrCathedral)
Ryan Bolda (Crown Point)
Chandler Banic (LaPorte)
Zyon Avery (Ben Davis)
Alec Brunson (DeKalb)
Kollyn All (McCutcheon)
Kiel Brenczewski (Fishers)
Chase Hug (Pike)
Jacob Daftari (Hamilton Southeastern)
Brock Cooper (Hobart)
Justin Graves (Lake Central)
Jared Miller (Elkhart Central)
Brigham Booe (Northview)
Riley Hershberger (Logansport)
Riley Bertram (Zionsville)
Tucker Platt (Logansport)
Alan Perry (Seymour)
Benji Nixon (Plymouth)
Matthew Meyer (Westfield)
Tyler Finke (Columbus North)
JJ Woolwine (Fishers)
Drew Taylor (Jeffersonville)
Evan Allen (McCutcheon)
Ryan Bolda (Crown Point)
Payton Kerr (Penn)
Tyler Owens (Noblesville)
Drew Hasson (Columbus East)
Michael Doolin (Andrean)
Ashton Guyer (Western)
Trevor Ankney (Indian Creek)
Derek Wagner (Tri-West)
Angel DiFederico (New Haven)
Pat Mills (Western)
Nolan Isaacs (Lakeland)
Sam Beier (Wheeler)
Sammy Steimel (Sullivan)
Eli Helton (Lawrenceburg)
Clay Thompson (Andrean)
Caleb Meeks (Evansville Memorial)
Cade McCoin (Mississinewa)
Sullivan Swingley (Yorktown)
Tyler Wheeler (Silver Creek)
Ethan Larason (Maconaquah)
Robbie Berger (John Glenn)
Dillon Olejnik (Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter)
Brady Gumpf (South Bend St. Joseph)
Sammy Barnett (Silver Creek)
Jake Andriole (Guerin Catholic)
Bryson McNay (Silver Creek)
Dawson Read (Indian Creek)
Max Moser (Jay County)
Cole Stigleman (Jay County)
Michael Machnic (John Glenn)
Eric Doyle (Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger)
Dylan Whitt (Silver Creek)
Chase Springmeyer (Greensburg)
Hayden Schott (Culver Military Academies)
Eddie Morris (Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger)
Tanner Clark (Columbia City)
Grant Besser (South Adams)
Ty Bothwell (Boone Grove)
Luke Stock (Henryville)
Joe Butz (Heritage Christian)
Joel Mounts (Heritage Christian)
Kipp Fougerousse (Linton Stockton)
Drew Buhr (Austin)
Logan Ryan (Hebron)
Zander Kottka (Union County)
Spencer Ballinger (Oak Hill)
Sam Schoonveld (Clinton Prairie)
Landon Weins (Frankton)
Jake Marin (Lafayette Central Catholic)
Shane Harris (North Posey)
Joey Weller (Union County)
Cameron Holycross (Lapel)
Matt Panagouleas (South Vermillion)
Logan Seger (Southridge)
Ben Berenda (Lafayette Central Catholic)
Wes Transier (Oak Hill)
KJ Roudebush (Tipton)
Easton Good (Lewis Cass)
Mason Miller (Union County)
Trever Zink (Forest Park)
Tyler Burton (Knightstown)
Tucker Schank (Southridge)
Garett Stanley (Wapahani)
Carson Dolezal (Tipton)
Lucas McNew (Borden)
Blake Harner (Northfield)
Duncan Gerkin (Orleans)
Jay Hammel (South Newton) xx
Trey Waddups (Pioneer)
Nate Johnson (Pioneer)
Aaron Beard (Tecumseh)
Ryan Hale (Daleville)
Cory Gutshall (Pioneer)
Carson Husmann (South Central of Union Mills) x
Nick Babcock (South Newton)
Evan Etchison (Daleville)
Sam Meek (Hauser)
Garrett Lawson (Riverton Parke)
Shom Berry (North Daviess)
Trey Johnson (Hauser)
Peyton Smith (Daleville)
Parker Eickbush (Hauser)
Case Eisenhut (Northeast Dubois)
Kyle Schmack (South Central of Union Mills)
Josh Price (Daleville)
Brogan Sanders (Riverton Parke)
Gabe Wilson (Edinburgh)
x — Repeat all-state performer.
xx — Repeat all-state performer in same class, but different position.
xxx — Repeat all-state performer in a different class and different position.