Adult Wiffle ball league a hit with players, spectators in Round Lake
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Within the friendly confines of the Round Lake Sports Center, a sport once familiar to children on playgrounds has returned.
Using a thin plastic bat and white plastic ball filled with holes, adults are again playing Wiffle ball.
Six teams came together to take part in the first adult Wiffle ball league offered by the Round Lake Area Park District.
"A lot of us played Wiffle ball growing up," said athletic supervisor Logan Rietz, who joined the league with fellow park district employees on team La Flama Blanca. "It is something different we can do here."
Many players say the league is a bargain, dividing the $100 team fee between players to play eight games.
"It's something to do during the winter time, hang out with buddies. There is no practice involved. We just go out here and have fun," said Todd Ankney of Lindenhurst from Who's Your Daddy.
The game resembles baseball as one player pitches to the batter, and strikes and outs are counted. But when the ball is hit, there are no players running the bases. Instead, the player earns a single, double, triple or home run based on where the ball lands in the field.
Rietz said because Wiffle ball is a more relaxed sport that requires little contact, the league attracted a wide age range from 19 to 50 years old.
"You used to only play this when you were a kid. Now you can play this until whatever age you want," said Brian Goebelt of Lake Villa from TBA.
Many players claim the key to dominating the league is good pitching, and the first league attracted many who played college baseball. John Stockwell and Scott McClaskey, who played together for Cedar Stockton College in Canton, Mo., reunited on the Wiffle ball field. But this time they were opponents for Holy balls and La Flama Blanca.
"It's fun even though now we are competing against each other," said La Flama Blanca team member McClaskey, who also works as the park district's assistant superintendent of recreation.
Rietz said because the ball can break 4 to 6 feet within such a short distance, this lends itself to some pitching duels. Following an eight-week season, players were treated to quite a duel to start the playoffs between Goebelt and John Stockwell of Holy Balls. Games normally last four innings or one hour, but this game ended in the ninth inning on a walk. Holy balls emerged the winner 1-0.
"No, I didn't see that coming," said Stockwell, who came from Hebron to join the league. "It was wild. Both pitchers pitched a heck of a game."
Following two nights of playoffs, Holy Balls took first followed by Who's Your Daddy in second. La Flama Blanca finished in third place, and Team Mike took fourth.
Rietz said the first season received positive response from spectators and players. The park district expects many teams will return to join the spring league.
"You never know," said TBA teammate Kevin Goebelt. "Maybe we'll have a Wiffle ball World Series one day."
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