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DREW MCCLANAHAN

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YEARS ACTIVE: 2014-2015

BIRTH PLACE: CHARLESTON, WV

BIRTH YEAR: 1984

PRIMARY POSITION: PITCHER

BAT/THROW: LEFT/RIGHT

CONTRIBUTIONS: LEAGUE AMBASSADOR, STAR PLAYER, NATIONAL TEAM MEMBER, PODCAST GUEST, & RECORD SETTER

TEAMS PLAYED FOR:

BREAKING BALLS (2014)

HWL BREW JAYS (2014)*

BREAKING BALLS (2015)

* NWLA TOURNAMENT TEAM

ACHIEVEMENTS: 

SEASON MVP (2014), CY WIFFLE (2014), STRIKEOUT KING (2014), ALL-STAR (2014), ALL-STAR (2015), & 2015 CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYER OF THE GAME

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What can be said about Drew McClanahan that hasn't been said already? It's been said that great players can be made but legends are born. 

The legend of Drew McClanahan began before he even took to the field. During the offseason after the 2013 Fall Ball program ended, Josh Smith and Greg Sowards had started a similar program in Charleston, WV where an early version of the Breaking Balls team formed. It was a brief fall ball program but one that introduced us to Ryan Pritt and Nick "Skip" Scala. The Breaking Balls were an early sign on for the 2014 season and Ryan Pritt (the team's captain) was lighting up the message boards with talk of a new ace they had added to the team named Drew McClanahan. No one had heard of him and brushed it off as pre-season chatter. But it wouldn't take long for people to take notice of Pritt's decree that he had found a great talent that would turn heads not just around the league but around the country.

He didn't attend any of the spring training sessions and no one had set eyes on him until week one of the 2014 season and he didn't say much. But anyone in the park could hear the sound that would become all-too-familiar throughout his whole career - the thunderous sound of his pitches assaulting the strike zone as he warmed up. It was April 8, 2014, opening day. The Breaking Balls had a double header scheduled against Stephanie Sadler and the Wiffle Ballers. McClanahan pitched a five inning complete game no-hitter against the team, walking one player and striking out nine. No-hitters were a sight the league had seen before, but never from a player debut. He then came in the following game to relieve and threw two innings and earned a save, giving up no runs or hits and striking out 3 additional batters. He finished his first week with 7 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 K's and the respect of all players in the league. 

It didn't take long for word to get out to leagues across the country, HWL had one of the best (if not the best) pitcher in the nation. He threw eight more no-hitters throughout the rest of the season, five of them being perfect games. He struck out 149 batters while walking only 20 and allowing a miniscule 5 runs all season and finished 2014 with a 0.47 ERA. He had an 18-0 pitching record with one save. When the season wrapped up and the league headed entered the playoffs he was assumed to have the Midas touch and would be walking away with a league championship trophy. However, it was a premature prediction. While McClanahan did receive the Cy Wiffle Award, Strikeout King and Season MVP award (making him one of the most decorated players in league history) he and his team fell just short of making the league championship.

On July 8, 2014 the playoffs began and the #1 seed Breaking Balls took on the #4 seed Poker Night. Drew threw a 1 hit shutout against the team and the Breaking Balls pressed on to the River City division championship against the Honey Badgers, where the winner would get to play in the league championship. By this point, most teams had an ace on the team which led to many no-hitters and shutouts or extra inning stalemates where one hit could change the course of the game. The Honey Badgers had gone through dramatic roster shifts during mid-season and Paul Hesson took over as the team's captain and rebuilt the team into a championship contender by season's end. The Breaking Balls and Honey Badgers game went 8 scoreless innings before McClanahan gave up a solo homerun to David Dillon that caused St. Cloud Commons Community Park to fall silent. The Breaking Balls had their final at bat but failed to score and the season giants fell 1-0, shocking the league. It was a loss McClanahan never forgot as he quickly and quietly left the park.

2014 would be fraught with additional disappointment as the league sent it's national team to the NWLA Tournament to compete. Drew was the star player on the roster and the buzz generating around him and the league was deafening. McClanahan was expected to dominate against lower level teams and go toe-to-toe with the most elite names in the sport. However, there was one crucial difference in tournament play vs that of the league: a 3' difference in distance from mound to plate. In HWL the distance was 45' but at nationals it's 48'. This difference would be an undoing for McClanahan as he struggled to find the zone and was essentially neutralized, something that was very frustrating for him. Instead, other players rose to prominence such as Jacob Fischer, Jeremy Ray and Nick Kappra when he was feeling the pressure to perform. He did not let this dishearten him as he made his efforts in the field and at the plate and the team finished 8th place out of 16 teams. 

McClanahan was incredibly quiet in the 2014 off season and was said to be training for the 2015 season. When he showed up for the 2015 season opener he returned to win. And the familiar thunder once again filled the park as the storm of strikeouts poured all summer long, finished with an 8-1 record, 4.35 ERA and 61 K's. His numbers would have no doubt been even better than the year prior were it not for the newly implemented rotation rules. The immense power of his pitches had eclipsed his abilities from the prior season as well despite the league moving the mound distance back to 48' - a rule he pushed to be added as he said it was important to compete at the elite level. McClanahan seemed to have a vendetta to settle, not with the league or with any given team, but with himself. He came to compete and not just put up impressive numbers (which he did) but win the whole damn thing. And in August 2015 he raised the trophy over his head with the Breaking Balls in their victory over Sit On My Base for the league championship. The game was rain delayed twice and won with him throwing from a mound nearly ankle deep in mud, further displaying that nothing came easy for McClanahan despite his blinding talent.

 

That 2015 championship game was the last time McClanahan stepped foot on the field as he left with what he came for: victory. He left just as quietly as he'd entered but the rumbling sound of his pitches hitting the strike zone still echo in the memories of all players that were part of that golden era of the league. He entered the league as talent had grown to such parity and dominated anyway. He endured embarrassment and hardship in the 2014 postseason and at the national tournament and saw redemption the following year and ended his career at a height never seen by anyone else and whose name is usually uttered when the "who was the greatest pitcher or player in the league" question is asked. There is no debate, it's Drew McClanahan.

AMBASSADOR

AMBASSADOR

STAR PLAYER

STAR PLAYER

RECORD SETTER

RECORD SETTER

CHAMPION

CHAMPION

TEAM MATE

TEAM MATE

#FRIEND

#FRIEND

CAREER STATISTICS

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