Week 7 recap/Week 8 preview and the dramatic final weekend ahead
NEW CARLISLE- Although it seems like Opening Day was just a couple of weeks ago, we have officially reached the final week of the 2018 ORWBL regular season. After many people around the league were starting to have doubts about the Cabo Yabos finishing out the season, the Yabos played 9 games (3 series) last weekend.
The Yabos boosted their record from 3-6 to 8-10 and will be making up their final make up series against the Magic on Saturday at Rose Park. With that being said, all signs are pointing to all 14 teams being playoff eligible as the regular season concludes on Sunday with some crucial series with major playoff positioning on the line. Before we preview the final week of the season, let’s take a look at the crazy Week 7 that really helped or hurt teams.
We will start with the Cabo Yabos and their 9 games that they played on the day. The Yabos started the day off by dropping 2 games to the Leprechauns but bounced right back as they took 2 out of 3 from the Godfathers who continue to struggle here in the latter part of the season. The Yabos finished their day by winning another series 2-1 over the Hudson Lake Heat in a series that could really hurt Hudson Lake when it is all said and done. The Yabos are currently the #5 seed in the American League and as long as they can win a couple of ballgames over the final 6 games of their season, they will likely avoid having to play in the play in game.
As for the Heat, it was an interesting day to say the least as they took 2 hard fought wins on the road against the National League leading Granger Panthers. The Heat struggled in their 2nd part of their doubleheader and after dropping 2 to Cabo, the Heat head into the final week of the season with a very respectable 14-7 record. After a really promising start to the season, Hudson Lake has tapered off a bit as they are currently the #3 seed which means they might be playing for their season in the Wild Card round against either the #6 or #7 seed.
Of course, Hudson Lake still is in contention to earn a Bye and finish as one of the top 2 seeds in the American League. However, the Heat are going to need a little help from others for that to happen. The Heat are just 1 game back of the Muffs for the final bye in the AL but would need to have a better record that the Muffs as South Bend owns the tiebreaker thanks to their series win earlier this season. The Heat could still catch Maple City as they conclude the season against he Magic at Magic Park. Maple City currently has a 2.5 game lead over the Heat and can at least clinch a bye on Saturday with a sweep over Cabo.
The defending champions are currently on a roll as they have won 13 consecutive games and will look to keep the streak alive. Maple City was off last weekend but as noted before will be playing their make up series with Cabo on Saturday. Despite not playing last Sunday, the Magic had a successful day as they were able to gain some separation from both the Muffs and Heat after both of those teams dropped a series.
If the Magic can sweep the Yabos to improve to 18-3, they can clinch the American League regular season championship with either 1 win against the Heat or 1 loss by the Muffs on Sunday as South Bend concludes their season against the Silver Sluggers. All in all, Maple City will look to have a big weekend as the #2 ranked team in the country (according to the National Wiffleball League Association) is really finding their stride as the weather heats up.
Speaking of the NWLA updated National Rankings, the South Bend Muffs were the 1st team out of the rankings as they were the first bubble team outside of the top 25. South Bend did not help their cause in Week 7 whatsoever as they dropped 2 important games to the Bourissa Hills Wildcards. While the Muffs had held the AL lead for a nice chunk of the season, they have been passed by the red hot Magic.
There is no doubt that the South Bend Muffs would prefer to earn the #1 seed in the American League as opposed to the #2 seed as they would likely be squaring off against the Hudson Lake Heat in the ALDS Best of 3 series. Maple City nearly saw it first hand last year that a 3 game series against the Heat can prove costly in the playoffs as Hudson Lake nearly knocked off the eventual 2017 ORWBL Champions. While the #1 seed is looking rather unlikely after their series loss in Week 7, South Bend is still in full control of their own destiny to earn one of the 2 Byes which therefore means that they would avoid having to play in a 1 Game Wild Card Game in which anything can truly happen.
South Bend will close out their 2018 regular season campaign against the South Shore Silver Sluggers who will bring a 7-14 record into the season finale. After losing their first series of the season last week, you can be assured that the boys in pink are eager to get back out on the field and win what would be their 7th series win of the year in 8 tries.
After picking up a statement series win over the South Bend Muffs, the Bourissa Hills Wildcards will head into the final week of the season with a lot of confidence in the clubhouse. This team truly has been a wildcard this year as last week’s series win over Hudson Lake showed that they can stick with and beat the best teams in the league on any given day. The Wildcards currently sit in as the #6 seed in the American League which means that they would have to play a 1 Game play in game just to make it to the 1 Game Wild Card Round against the winner of the #4 and #5 seeds. Although the Wildcards currently are in 6th, there is plenty of hope in Bourissa as they are well within reach of the two teams in front of them.
The Wildcards will be pulling for Maple City on Saturday as they can pull into a tie with the Yabos if they do get swept by the Magic. The Wildcards will then conclude their season on Sunday against the 10-11 Godfathers in a series that will without a doubt impact playoff positioning. After a 9-3 start, Great Lakes has gone 1-8 over their last 9 games to fall to 10-11. A Wildcards sweep would vault them over the Godfathers and out of the play in game. To summarize things for the Wildcards, they head into the final week of the regular season with a lot of uncertainty as they could end up finishing as the #6, #5 or #4 seed in the American League.
While there is a ton of uncertainty regarding playoff positioning, one thing Is for certain in the AL and that is that the Gardena Golden Showers will be the #7 seed and will be playing in the 1 game play in game against whoever ends up getting the #6 seed. This first year team remains winless and fans around Michigan City are getting desperate to see their franchise pick up their long awaited 1st ORWBL win as a franchise.
Just a few years ago, the Toll Road Rebels carried an 0-41 record into the final game of the season and picked up a win over the Soggy Bottom Boys so there is hope for Caleb Martin, Jake Fitzhugh and the rest of the Golden Showers. Gardena will look to pick up that first win on Sunday as they hope to gain some momentum heading into the playoffs where anything can happen, especially in a 1 Game playoff. They will be taking on the Cabo Yabos in a series matchup that will likely affect playoff positioning in the American League. There have been plenty of great stories in the American League this season and the drama will only continue to build as we approach a very crucial final week of the season.
Now that we have taken an in depth look at what is going on in the American League, let’s dive into the National League who is fresh off of an All Star series win over the AL. We will start with the National League leading Granger Panthers who for the first time this season do not have at least a share for the best record in the league after dropping 2 out of 3 to Hudson Lake in Week 7.
After losing their ace pitcher and reigning NL Cy Young Griffin Smith for the season to an injury, Smith has been brought on to replace Brett Shepard as the manager of the team. Shepard had a stellar 40-8 record as the Manager and could potentially return to that role in the future. But for now, it is up to Manager Griffin Smith to make the tough calls that will need to be made as the Panthers look to win a championship in only their 2nd season in the league.
Smith has been placed in a tough situation as he is trying to find out who their ace pitcher is going to be come playoff time. Smith has been using a bit of a rotation as he aims to find his guy that he trusts most on the mound. Heading into last week, the NWLA announced that the Panthers were ranked as the #8 team in the country. If they can finish out the regular season with a nice sweep, the Panthers will almost surely be nationally ranked still. At 16-5, the Panthers are the only team in ORWBL to have clinched a Bye thanks to their series win over the Goats earlier in the season which has given them the tiebreaker over the Goats.
The Granger Panthers would love to finish the season off on a strong note and even more so would like to lock up the #1 overall seed in the National League which means the Panthers would own home field advantage throughout the National League Playoffs. While it is a long shot, there is a chance that the Panthers could slip down to the #2 seed in the NL as they close out the season against the team right underneath them, the Saugany Lake Landsharks.
After a brutal start to the season, the Landsharks have been one of the better teams over the past month as they have improved their record to 13-8. Although it would take a sweep for the Sharks to win the National League regular season title, Levi Miller and his boys have got to be thrilled about where they are at. If the Landsharks are able to sweep the Panthers, they will indeed earn the #1 seed in the NL playoffs.
It has already been quite an impressive and memorable season for the Landsharks but they seem poised to make a deep run as this team is really meshing well. Regardless, the Landsharks have to be absolutely on cloud 9 heading into the final week as this first year team is in control of their own destiny to win the National League regular season title in their inaugural season.
While the Landsharks could rise all the way to the top seed, there is also a chance that they drop to the #3 seed which would force them to play in the 1 game Wild Card Round. They currently share an identical record with the Billy Goats but they own the tiebreaker thanks in part to their 3 game sweep over the Goats just a few weeks ago. The Landsharks will be pulling for Rolling Prairie as they will be taking on the Goats.
With such a tough series ahead for Saugany Lake, the stage is set for a very dramatic conclusion to the regular season. All in all, the fact that we are talking about these two first year teams getting a potential bye is impressive enough. Now it is just time to wait and see what Sunday brings us.
As for EA, they were swept away by their arch rival New Carlisle Newts last weekend to fall back to 7-14. EA has been playing much better wiffleball over the past month but currently are in last place in the NL. If they are not able to have a great series vs. the Goats, Rolling Prairie will have to fight their way out of the play in game and Wild Card Round. EA is just 1 game behind Lynn St. which means that they still have a shot at rising up the standings and avoiding the play in game.
Even if they are not able to climb up to the 5th seed, this veteran team knows what it takes to win, especially when it comes down to a 1 game playoff. The other team currently in the play in game would be the South Shore Silver Sluggers who also have a 7-14 record. The Sluggers have shown glimpses of success this season and certainly has the potential to surprise teams come playoff time. Just like EA, the Sluggers would love to rise up in the standings and snag the #5 seed but it will not be an easy task as they will hosting the South Bend Muffs who have a lot to play for on Sunday.
The Sluggers could definitely play spoiler role to the Muffs while also helping themselves avoid having to play in the play in game. While the odds are against them on Sunday, it would be silly to count out this team who has played much better at home this season and also will be playing for a chance to surpass the Leprechauns for the #5 seed.
Speaking of the Leprechauns, Lynn St. is in control of their own destiny to avoid having to play in the play in game. After winning 7 games in their first 2 seasons, the Leps currently have 8 wins so this season has already been a big step in the right direction. They will close out the season against the defending National League Champions and can leap frog the Newts in the standings with a series sweep. If thats the case, the Leps would then host the Newts in the NLDS best of 3 series.
On the other hand, if Lynn St. struggle on Sunday, they could fall as far as 7th in the NL standings so it will certainly be a huge series for both them and the Newts. That just about covers everything as we head into the final week of the regular season. Lastly, if New Carlisle is able to pull out a sweep, the Newts could jump up to 3rd in the NL playoff bracket but would need the Billy Goats to get swept.
That just about covers everything you need to know regarding the playoff implications on the line this weekend as we are set for a wild conclusion to what has been a very exciting regular season! An astonishing 13 out of the 14 teams do not know what seed they will be come playoff time, setting us up for one of the most dramatic final weeks in ORWBL regular season history.