Indy 8 Balls take championship
The Indy 8 Balls took the 2017 ISWB crown by defeating the Short Shorts 2-1 in a best of three series after dropping game one, winning the league title in their first year of existence.
The 8 Balls used lights-out pitching and timely swings to wear out the Short Shorts in games two and three. In the series, the 8 Balls pitching was put to the test after the Short Shorts exploded offensively late in game one, however, poor pitching accuracy and low-energy proved costly against the calculating and efficient 8 Balls as the series progressed.
Mike Speek Sr. was named playoff MVP, which included five shutout innings in game two of the championship series. Mike Speek Jr. hit a grand slam late in game three to virtually seal the title for the 8 Balls.
Rogers takes MVP, Silver Slugger
Dakota Rogers of the Noodlers took home some much-desired personal hardware after being named the 2017 MVP and Silver Slugger. He earned 11 of the 14 votes, and won in large part to securing the league triple crown (.515 AVG, 75 RBI, 26 HR). Rogers served as the centerpiece for the league’s best offense, and he is the first player other than Brendan Dudas to win the Silver Slugger award. “Koko” had this to say when asked to comment on the awards:
“It's an honor to be selected for both of these prestigious awards. I have to thank my teammates, without them being so consistent and feared at the plate, I probably would not have been pitched to so frequently (until the playoffs, thanks Blake). Their ability to get on base played a huge factor in my RBI and slugging percentage. I also would like to thank Dudas for running such an awesome league and keeping stats every week. What I know that me and Brendan have in common is we are ultimate competitors, so it was good to see someone other than him win an MVP award. Overall this year was awesome for me, and I am honored and thankful for both of these awards, and all though I did not win the only award I cared about (a championship), what I can say is what Michael Jordan told Bird and Magic in the Dream Team intrasquad scrimmage - Dudas you had a good run, but there's a new sheriff in town. Koko out”
Mike Speek Sr. was named CY Young in addition to winning playoff MVP. Speek showed off his incredible command of the zone all year, going 9-0 (including playoffs) with a 1.79 ERA, 79Ks, and only 16 walks.
Reid Werner claimed Rookie of the Year for his play with the Inglorious Batters by leading them in virtually every key offensive category. Aidan Palmer of the Dingleberries earned Most-Improved player. Palmer earned All-Star Game MVP, finished top 5 in pitcher strikeouts, and doubled his home run total from last year. Jeremy McIntyre was named Defensive Player of the Year for his consistently spectacular play in left field for the Kings of Diamonds. JMac quickly made a name himself around the league by using his athleticism to take away would-be homers and hits.
ISWB struggles at New Carlisle tourney
Despite sending two of its most talented and experienced squads (Short Shorts, Noodlers), ISWB failed to meet expectations at the historic Hometown Cup slow-pitch wiffleball tournament in New Carlisle, Indiana. Each team went 2-2 in pool play, and failed to get past the round of 32 the following morning. This is the second year in a row that the Short Shorts have made a second-round exit.
Despite the on-field disappointment, each team was blown away by the quality of the event, and commissioner Brendan Dudas plans on bringing teams back in future years. Dudas on the tournament:
“This year, we took a slightly less experienced group of guys, but it was one that I knew was going to have fun. Only 3 of the guys had played slow pitch between the two rosters, so I knew coming in that there would be a learning curve. I can’t wait to come back next year with a little experience under our belts.”
All-Star Game flourishes
The 2017 ISWB All-Star Game proved to be the best one yet this July. In front of the biggest crowd (120) the league has ever hosted, the ISWB showcased its best players under the Dirtyard lights for a nine-inning game that displayed the league’s talent and passion.
Although the game was the centerpiece of the event, the night got its character from the extracurricular activities put on by the league, which included raffles, cornhole, food and drinks, a home run derby, a live comedian, a firework show after the game, and a fundraiser for Whitley’s Wishes. The event raised $1,300 for DIPG research.
The league found new and more expansive ways to promote the game as well, which partially led to the success of the event. Gregg Doyel of the Indy Star returned to write an update on his 2016 article about Dudas and his family, and Derek Schultz of WNDE 1260 AM Indianapolis hosted Dudas on his afternoon sports talk show to promote the league and event.
Aidan Palmer and Rudy Lyon received All-Star Game MVP honors. Palmer struck out 5 over 2 scoreless innings of work and added 2 hits at the plate. Lyon hit the game's first homer - a 3 run blast over the left field wall. The blue team put a beat down on the red team 7-0.
Field renovations planned
Every off-season brings more opportunities for the young ISWB to improve and this upcoming one appears to be no different. With the help of Mike Speek and Amerifence, Dudas plans to install a wooden fence on the Dirtyard, which will include a monster wall in right field. A party deck is also to be expected in deep center, and the field lights hope to be updated as well. Whispers of artificial turf being installed on fields has been floating around as well.