NEW CARLISLE- After an eventful first weekend of the postseason, only 4 teams remain in contention for the 2016 ORWBL World Series. With the Newts being the only team left to have won an ORWBL Championship, 3 teams will be gunning for their first ever ORWBL World Series championship.
Over in the American League, #3 Hudson Lake Heat will take on the top seeded Maple City Magic in a series that both teams have been talking about for months. These teams met up in the first half of the season at Pine Park and it was the Heat who were able to take 2 of 3 from their rivals.
Things have changed over in Maple City since then after the Magic made a blockbuster mid season trade sending Drew Luther to Jet City for John Arndt and a case of yellow Gatorade. With Jet City already eliminated it appears that the Magic came out as big winners from the move.
Maple City is 11-1 since acquiring John Arndt as he has provided much needed veteran experience. After losing in the World Series to the Newts in 2013, Maple City has been quite average in league play going 21-15 and 12-12 in the 2 previous seasons. It looks like Maple City has found their edge again down the stretch as they have been the clear best team in the 2nd half of the season.
The Magic have a loaded lineup with Zach Liberatore, John Arndt, Shane Anderson, Eric Johnson, and Alex Friedman and it has showed lately. Not to mention the Magic also have MVP Candidate Wes Ellis leading the way both at the plate and on the mound. It has been quite an impressive season for Ellis who battled tough hitting conditions all season long but was still able to hit over .500 and hit 36 Home Runs.
While Ellis & Co. head into the ALCS red hot, Hudson Lake will be coming in with their confidence at an all time high after taking down the Leprechauns followed by a 2-1 series win over Jet City at Old Rock Park. Hudson Lake was in contention all season long in the AL West and the division ended up coming down to the final series of the year. While it was Jet City who won the final game of the season to win the division, Hudson Lake was able to put that behind them and move forward.
Going up against a shorthanded Jet City, Hudson Lake came ready to play, winning Games 1 and 3 of a heated series in which tensions were high throughout. The Heat now head into the ALCS fresh off of 3 wins at Old Rock Park.
Hudson Lake does not have a very big roster but that did not matter as 5 of their 6 players were voted into the All Star Game. The Heat trio of Bob Bushman, Jared Monhaut, and Ben McDonald is arguably one of the best in the league as those kids can hit with the best of them. Jake MacMillan, Mikey Smith, and Darian Luther round out the home run hitting lineup.
This team is easily one of the best hitting teams in the league as they can outscore anyone in most situations. Things could get tricky for them however if the wind is howling in as the Heat tend to get most of their runs from the long ball. All in all, Hudson Lake has an incredible opportunity as they are just 3 wins away from reaching their first ever ORWBL World Series. It has been quite the turn around for Hudson Lake who earned their first winning season in what is now the franchise's 3rd year in the league.
Maple City will travel to Pine Park for Games 1 and 2 on Wednesday. The series will then shift over to LaPorte where they will conclude the series. The time and date for Games 3, 4, and 5 have yet to be released.
Meanwhile, things in the National League have been a bit different after the White Lightning shocked the #1 Dabbers at The Marsh. The 4th seeded White Lightning head into the NLCS as the clear underdogs but should not be overlooked after what they did to both Cabo and Galena Marsh on Sunday.
Saugany Lake only won 2 games on the road in the regular season but things have changed in the postseason as the White Lightning showed that they can win big ballgames on the road. They also showed that they can win low scoring games as well which has been an issue for the high scoring team.
Saugany Lake will boasts a well balanced lineup with MVP Candidates Doug Benner and Levi Miller leading the way. They also get a lot of support from Jasen Webb, Luke Ketterer, Bailey Rhed, and Jake Benner. All four of those guys showed their power in the regular season hitting 20+ Home Runs.
Next up for the White Lightning comes their toughest test yet. If they want to make their first World Series in franchise history they will have to get past the New Carlisle Newts who have reached the World Series in 3 consecutive seasons, winning 2 ORWBL Championships.
The Newts star packed lineup has been called a super team by many people familiar with the league. After a slow start, the Newts bounced back, finishing the regular season with a 16-8 record while earning the #2 seed. The Newts got all they could handle in the ALDS as they narrowly escaped the Sour Chicken Muffs with an 8-7 win in the decisive Game 3.
While New Carlisle has not played like the super team that everyone expected, they have still been able to take care of business as they are now just 3 wins away from returning to the World Series. That may be a scary thing for the rest of the league as it doesn't really appear that the Newts have played their best wiffleball this season.
It is no secret that the Newts star studded lineup boasts MVP's, future Hall of Famers, and veterans who have been here before. The offseason acquisitions of Scott Soos, Matt Soos, Jay Ryans, and Danny Hernandez have been crucial as all four have been regulars throughout the season. Long time Newt Garret Curless also put himself in the NL MVP race with a strong finish to the season.
The reigning MVP Noah Shail only played in 7 games but figures to be a major threat here as the season winds down. New Carlisle heads into the NLCS as the favorites to represent the National League in the World Series despite dropping 2 of 3 to the White Lightning recently at the end of the regular season.
Sauagany Lake will look to take it to the Newts again as they are eager to show that their series win was no fluke. It should be a very entertaining series as both teams boast powerful lineups. If the wind is in favor of the hitters, expect to see some extremely high scoring affairs due to the strength of both lineups. If the wind is blowing in, it could be anyones game as Saugany Lake showed that they can win low scoring games on the biggest stage.
The White Lightning will get a chance to showcase why they were the best team at home as they will host Games 1 and 2 before the series shifts over to Migley Field. The entire series will be played on Sunday with Games 1 and 2 starting at the crack of dawn.