ASHLAND, Ky. — Shepherd’s Fold came into Saturday’s fourth annual Kona Ice of Ashland / Amy For Africa Wiffle Ball Tournament a virtual unknown.
But by the time they left the field, everybody knew about the church wiffle ball team out of Wayne, W.Va.
Shepherd’s Fold Baptist Church defeated Kona Ice KannonBallers, 9-8, in dramatic fashion with back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the (last) third inning.
Steve Henderson, who hadn’t hit a home run since the first game of the day, launched a line drive over the “Green Monster” in left field to secure the championship.
Kona Ice, the champion in 2014, scored (the maximum) six runs in the opening inning and looked headed for another title.
But Shepherd’s Fold wouldn’t let that happen. Shane Napier, a home run machine throughout the tournament, was the Most Valuable Player, according to coach Brent Fleshman. “He’s definitely our MVP,” said Fleshman, who injured his calf on the last play of the semifinals but toughed it out in the finals. He made a couple of nice stops at third base and also belted a home run in the championship.
It’d be hard to argue that Napier was the MVP. He hit between 15 and 20 home runs in the day-long tournament.
Shepherd’s Fold outlasted a strong 32-team field. Kona Ice ousted defending champion Baseball Bunch 12-1 in a surprising semifinal game.
Veteran teams like Washed Up, L-Train, the Radio Rebels, the Rocket Boys, Mark’s Mighty Men and Kat’s Bats were knocked out.
Brittnany Hoback made AFA Wiffle Ball history by becoming the first female to hit a home run in the tournament. Hoback, playing for the River Cities Harvesters, proved the first one was no fluke but belting a second home run.
Katherine Jackson, the captain of Kat’s Bats, hit two home runs in the Home Run Derby competition. She was the first female to accomplish that feat.
Amy Compston may want to consider recruiting these power-hitting women on her team next year. Just saying.
Scott Busch won his second AFA Home Run Derby title in three years. He won the crown in 2014 and was runner-up in 2015. Busch made easy work of the competition but going 6-for-6 on home runs in the final round.
Travis Hall Foundation defeated Greek Wiffology 4-2 in the AFA competition tournament. Chad Hieneman, who had a walkoff three-run homer to win the first-round game and pitched a no-hitter in the semifinals, was named the Most Valuable Player.
Bryan Hall was the captain of THF. The foundation is in memory of his brother, an outstanding baseball player at Boyd County High School.