Wiffleball tourney wraps up

Monday, July 29, 2002

The dust was flying and the fans were cheering as nearly 60 people filled Steve and Debbie Unterreiner's back yard Sunday afternoon for the final game of the Wack-Fest wiffleball tournament.

In the end, it was a near-home run by Natties' team member Mark Rubel caught at the fence by Regulators' outfielder Paul Unterreiner that closed the tournament with a 6-2 triumph for the Regulators.

What began as a mere hobby has grown into an annual tradition for cousins David and Paul Unterreiner, founders of the two-day wiffleball tournament, who, with Mark Unterreiner and Andy Arnzen, make up the Regulators team. Each team has three outfielders and a pitcher.

Over the past five years, the makeshift ball park in the Unterreiners' yard has progressed from having a simple rope perimeter to a permanent chain link fence. This year, a scoreboard was added.

There's even an official tournament mascot -- Dukie the iguana, who watches the games from behind a window in the Unterreiners' home.

The tournament has grown significantly in popularity over the years, which means the competition has improved as well, said 18-year-old David Unterreiner.

"The first year, the competition was 90 percent less. It's starting to get excellent. Next year it should be even better," David said.

Notre Dame Regional High School teacher and wiffleball veteran Steve Mosley of Cape Girardeau threw the opening pitch of this year's final game.

"I was among the first to ever play wiffleball. I'm glad to see it's still being played," Mosley said.

With the exception of last year, the Regulators have won the first-place trophies every year.

"We're glad to put the tournament together, glad that everybody came, and glad to have the trophy back in our hands," David Unterreiner said following his team's victory.

While this year's tournament was dominated by males, a few members of the audience expressed a need to bring a little girl power into the game.

Sixteen-year-old pals Rachel Ruopp and Lindsay Reinagel of Cape Girardeau are already planning to enter the next tournament.

"We're watching this year, getting all the moves down," said Ruopp. "But we definitely plan on winning next year."

cchitwood@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

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