NEW CARLISLE - If you can't beat them, sign them.
That's exactly what the New Carlisle Newts did on Friday night, as the core of the Cult West dynasty decided their collective ORWBL future. While the two-time and reigning ORWBL Champions will not be back as a franchise in 2016, four of them will be joining forces with another organization with a rich championship history.
"Newts it is," former Warriors manager Scott Soos said, speaking for himself, his brother Matt, Jay Ryans, and Danny Hernandez. The foursome has been the most dominant force in not only ORWBL, but in all of wiffleball, winning three consecutive Hometown Cups.
It has been almost an annual offseason tradition for the Newts to make a big splash in the free agent market, already landing 2015 Cy Young winner Jake Lawrence. However, this may be the offseason biggest haul in ORWBL history.
Since bringing Cult West into the league in 2012, Scott Soos has compiled a stat line which places him in the conversation for greatest ORWBL player of all-time. Soos holds a career .612 batting average with 291 home runs and 442 RBI. He ranks second all-time in all three categories. His new manager, Koby Keck, is atop the home runs and RBI list, but has two more seasons (nearly 400 more at bats) worth of stats.
While Soos hasn't racked up a lot of innings on the mound compared to others on the Warriors staff, he has 30 career wins and is the all-time career leader with a 4.77 ERA. Soos has twice been named MVP and was also Rookie and Manager of the Year in 2012. He is a four-time ORWBL All-Star, winning the All-Star Game MVP in 2014. He is also the two-time defending Home Run Derby champion.
Matt Soos hasn't seen as much ORWBL action, although he did appear in a career high 20 games in 2015. He has certainly been productive in the limited time. Soos has hit .502 in his career with 88 home runs and 148 RBI. Soos holds the league record for most saves in a season with 14, a mark he set in 2014. He appeared in the 2013 ORWBL All-Star Game.
A fan favorite around Migley Field, Ryans will finally put on the green and orange. Ryans has been courted by the Newts for years, despite only appearing in 11 regular season games over the past two seasons. His presence on the mound when the postseason rolls around has made him one of the most feared pitchers in the game. In 2012, his only season of regular action, he hit .630 with 85 home runs and 149 RBI which earned him NL MVP honors. He is a three-time ORWBL All-Star.
Hernandez is statistically one of the top ten players in league history as well. In his four years, he has hit .558 with 161 home runs and 318 RBI. His 413 career hits ranks him seventh all-time, but third since he entered the league in 2012. Known for his reliability, Hernandez appeared in 120 consecutive regular season games, spanning the first three seasons of his ORWBL career. The first Warriors game he missed was Opening Day 2015 at Bertrand. He has also collected his fair share of wins on the mound with 16. Hernandez has been selected an ORWBL All-Star in all four seasons, winning the All-Star Game MVP last season.
New Carlisle seemed to win out in the bidding war for the four players over the expansion South Bend Sour Chicken Muffs. The new South Bend franchise is anchored by the Muffs players which played for Cult West the past two seasons, helping them to two World Series appearances and ultimately the 2015 title.
The hot stove battle in the offseason will likely ignite into a rivalry on the field this summer.