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Local Wiffleball team looks to take next step

The London Wiffleball Tournament is scheduled to take place in West Jefferson this Sunday and a group of Knox County players will be once again looking to win a championship. The Sidewinders are a team comprised of players in Knox County. The team finished 6-2 last year and made it to the Elite Eight out of nearly 70 teams. The Sidewinders fell behind in their first game last year 16-3 before coming back to win 18-16. The team then won 6-0 and won on a walk off to go to 3-0. In the final game of the round robin portion of play the Sidewinders were up 7-0 in the final inning only to allow the Campaigners to tie the game and hit a walk off homer in extras for the win.

The Sidewinders entered single elimination tournament play as the 23 seed. They beat the Carly’s and the Expos to reach the Sweet Sixteen where they faced the 7th seeded Phillies. A late game homer from Kenny Rucker gave the Sidewinders a 5-4 win and a spot in the Elite Eight. The Sidewinders would fall there to the Bulldogs 11-2. The Bulldogs went undefeated on the day to win the championship.

The Sidewinders this year will look different as longtime slugger Alex Park has decided to skip this year’s tournament. In his place the Sidewinders picked up former college baseball player Collin Bumpus.

Returning are left fielder and lead off hitter Ryan Burke, a graduate of Centerburg High School. Pitcher Nick Neighbarger, a graduate of Mount Vernon, outfielder Kenny Rucker also a graduate of Mount Vernon and shortstop Tyler Mathias, a graduate of Centerburg.

Ryan has been a mainstay with the team missing just one tournament since 2002 and providing alot of offense and exceptional defense for the Sidewinders.

Nick has now played in a couple of tournaments and as guided the team on the mound to an improvement in wins every year and he brings a steady bat to the lineup.

Rucker has had some big hits and he also is a tremendous defense player. Rucker is the lone switch hitter on the team.

Bumpus has been to the tournament one other time many years ago. He has baseball experience.

Tyler is one of the co founders of the team and will once again play shortstop for the team.

Neighbarger and Burke have each had atleast 10 homers in each of the last two tournaments.

Weather could be a factor this year as the forecast is looking iffy for the weekend.

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