Sultans Soar, Staal's Struggles, and Sitter's (re)Surgence.
Opening Day 2016 is officially in the books. The night started off with the singing of the national anthem then followed with the worst first pitch in the history of the sport. Check out our instagram page (leroywiffleball) for the video proof. 14 players made the early trip to start the season and storylines were written all over the night.
1. Caleb Jonkman and Jake Van Vuren could do no wrong from the mound for the Sultans as they held out against the Bombers 3-2 in extra inning Wif then took out the reigning Champion Fantastic 2-0 in a 4 inning battle shortned due to light. Caleb went into the game knowing it was his last for at least 6 weeks as he went to the surgery table the next day to repair a damadged left shoulder. With home field advantage so important in the this league the question will remain if Robby releases him or tries holding out. The big gain from the night is the dominance Jake Van Vuren had. He gave up 1 run and 5 hits in 4 innings pitched, while also clocking 6 k's in the process. For being a 3rd round pick Robby should be delighted moving forward.
2. Sam's return was a big part of the night, but unfortunately the pressure got the better of the 2014 Allstar. In an 18 at-bat night he had only 3 hits, all singles while striking out 12... yes that number is correct... 12 times. His pitching was his strength in his 2014 campaign he struggled to get his groove back their as well giving up 5 runs in 3 1/3 innings pitched. He's been off a year we have to give him some slack, but he's going to have to turn it around quick if he wants to be a difference maker this year.
3. With the first two stories being mostly negative the third comes as a pleasant surprise. Andrew Sitter was the one of the top 3 players in the 2014 campaign with his unhittable fastball that struck out 22 batters of the 30 he faced that year. 2015 seemed to be a different story, he faced 60 batters last year only striking out 15 total and his E.R.A. blew up to 8.91 with an opponents batting average of .467 to add insult to injury. He fell all the way from 3rd to 13th in the player rankings and was a 2nd round pick this season because of it. He turned things around quick, pitching 4 innings and giving up just 1 run to go with a .611 batting average himself belting 3 out of the park. If he continues this dominance Fantastic as all but sealed a repeat of the ship.