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2017 ORWBL Preview: Can anyone take down the Newts?

The 2016 season is over, and the 2017 season is soon to be. This offseason has provided the league with many big moves. With divisions being set, 12 teams set to compete this season. 11 of them hope to dethrone the 2016 World Series Champions New Carlisle Newts.

AL East

Maple City Magic:

Maple CIty will be coming into the 2017 season after a very good 2016 season that came to a disappointing end. Alex Friedman managed this team to a league best 17-7 regular season, only falling short in the World Series. Maple city looks to win the AL east again this year, but their division will surely be tougher this season . They will have to go through the Cabo Yabos, a team that emerged in their first season in 2016. Cabo put up impressive performances in 2016, taking 2 of 3 games vs the Muffs and the World Series Champion Newts. Although Maple City is still projected to win the AL east, the road will be more difficult this year. However, Maple City made a huge splash in the offseason, adding the Rieff brothers, and newcomer Caleb Jonkman, which will only better their high powered offence. Jonkman figures to be a strong Rookie of the Year candidate as he has won multiple MVP’s in a fast pitch league (Leroy Wiffleball League.) Maple City veterans Shane Anderson, John Arndt, Wes Ellis, and Zach Liberatore hope to keep this team as one of the most high powered offenses in the league. The addition of Anthony Rieff could put the Magic over the top as he is one of the best defensive players in the game. They are also expecting a second half return from Brian Lockhart who has been living in Arizona. With Lockhart playing, the Magic usually seem to play on another level. All in all, it was a highly successful offseason for the front office of Alex Friedman and Zach Wisniewski who are determined to bring an ORWBL Championship to Maple City.

Cabo Yabos:

After a 12-12 inaugural season last year, Cabo only seems to be moving upwards. With a few off season pickups, and John Premetz and Grant Duncan continuing to steer the Cabo ship, they could be a very lethal team in 2017. Not many people talk about Cabo being a World Series contender, but if things swing their way, they should not be counted out. They were one of the teams that was switched over to the American League to balance out the league’s. It will be very interesting to see if they can get their core group of players on the field as this team has players from all over the region. One thing is certain though, and that is that there will be plenty of Malorts in the dugout.

Bourissa Hills Pterodactyls:

Other than a new logo, the Pterodactyls have made no offseason moves, which might be a little scary to Pterodactyl fans after a 10-14 2016 campaign. In 2016 the Pterodactyls couldn’t manage to take either series against Maple City. If no changes occur, things look rough for the Pterodactyls in 2017. Maple City has only gotten better, adding both Rieff brothers, and Caleb Jonkman which is arguably the best pair of offseason moves so far. Not only has Maple City gotten better, a new team to the division, Cabo Yabos, is looking more dangerous every second we get closer to opening day. On the bright side, the passion and commitment of Manager Zach Rehlander proves that the Dactyls’ will always show up and give it their all.

AL West:

Hudson Lake Heat:

Hudson Lake could be the team to beat in 2017. With the departure of the White Lightning, Hudson lake managed to pick up Doug Benner. Benner was a star pitcher for Saugany Lake while he also led the team in batting average and hits. Benner could be the spark Hudson Lake needs to pass Jet City in the race for AL West as they fell just 1 win shy of a division title in 2016. With the 2016 AL MVP Bob Bushman, star player Jared Monhaut, and the addition of Doug Benner, as well as a new and improved MIke Smith, Hudson Lake is surely in the race for a World Series title. They head into 2017 more determined than ever after getting swept handily 3-0 in the ALCS to Maple City.

Jet City Junkballers:

After a very good 16-8 regular season in 2016, Jet CIty hopes to keep pace in 2016. In 2016 Jet City’s offense was one to reckon with. Nate Arndt led the league in Home Runs and RBI’s, while Tony Koch led the league in batting average. Koch, the all time batting average leader in ORWBL figures to keep zoomin’ in 2017. Jet City was also able to retain star Drew Luther whom they acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Magic last season. But, with no big moves yet this offseason, Hudson Lake seems to have caught up to Jet City, after only finishing 2 games back last season. To win the division again, Jet City can’t lose many, or possibly any games to the Godfathers, while winning both series against Hudson Lake. 2017 could be an interesting season for the AL West, as it’s certainly possible there could be a new division winner. Nate Arndt will once again have to be an ace on the mound as former Cy Young George Stainko decided to return to the Magic after a quick stint with Jet City. It is worth noting, Arndt was not available for their ALDS series against Hudson Lake in which they lost 2-1.

Great Lake Godfathers:

Going 4-20 in 2016 was not what Great Lakes had in mind. While they have had a quiet offseason, Mark Haase has hinted that they have signed a couple of new players who could help spark the team to an improved 2017 season. Many Great Lake fans think Mark Haase can carry the team to a better record, but with more and more league depth, Mark will have a huge load to carry on his shoulders. There is no doubt that the reigning AL Rookie of the Year and All Star Starter can play, but he will need some help from his teammates as Great Lakes is eager to show the rest of the league that they can make a surprise run.

NL East:

New Carlisle Newts:

2016 was a year to remember for the city of New Carlisle. The Newts look to defend their World Series title in 2017, and have actually improved in the offseason with the additions of Nick Arndt and Joey Shuster. While it is unclear as to how much they will be able to show up, there is no doubt that both players are wiffleball stars. With Scott Soos, Noah Shail, Danny Hernandez, Jay Ryans, and Matt Soos, they are still the team to beat in 2017, despite Maple City making big moves this offseason. Not to mention, Mr. Newt Garrett Curless is coming off of another MVP season. The skipper Koby Keck and Newts nation hope to repeat as champions and continue their dynasty that could still only get more impressive.

Rolling Prairie Emery’s Army:

Emery’s Army took a break in 2016, which could hurt them in 2017. The army faces a rough road to a division title after a year long hiatus. In front of them they have the World Series Champion Newts, and a young team on the rise, the Olive Township Mechanics. Jake Lawrence and Eric Johnson hope to lead this team to a division title over their rival, New Carlisle. Some fans don’t think their 2016 break was smart, but others think it’s exactly what they needed to take down New Carlisle. Lawrence will take over as Manager which will be a first for the Army as Johnson has always led the squad. All in all, it is a great thing for the league to have EA back in the league as they are easily one of the most storied franchises in ORWBL history. It appears that they will have a similar squad to their former teams. However, they did add some youth by signing Jeremy Ross who has shown a lot of potential in tournaments with Triple Crown.

Olive Township Mechanics:

2016 was a tough first season for the Mechanics. Going 7-17 was not what they had in mind, but, coming into 2017, there seems to be a possible bright future. In 2016 the Mechanics fielded the youngest team in the league, but with the experience they have gotten over the last season, they could be contenders in 2017. When talking about 2017 World Series contenders, the Mechanics may not come to mind, but the mechanics hope to change people's mind this offseason with a huge signing. With the second most runs scored in 2016, the mechanics have added to their offense with the signing of Bailey Rhed. Bailey previously played for the White Lighting, and has also been one of the strong bats on the team. With a solid core including Bailey Rhed, Kody Webb, and Aidan Cotter, the Mechanics hope to shock ORWBL in 2017.

NL West:

Galena Marsh Taco Punchers:

This season the Taco Punchers hope to stay on path to retain the NL West title. Unfortunately for them, it won’t be easy. With the additions of the Granger Panthers, and a new and improved Lynn Street team, the NL West seems to be up for grabs. To win this division Cy Young Jared Emmons will need to have another impressive year on the mound. Jordon Smoroske needs to lead the team at the plate again, and they will need to improve on winning low scoring games, which was the reason for the early exit in the 2016 ALDS. They battled it out all season long with South Bend last season and were able to win the division on the final day of the season. Due to their experience, the Taco Punchers certainly figure to compete for an ORWBL Championship in 2017.

Granger Panthers:

Granger is the only new team to join ORWBL this year. Although they haven't played in any league games, the Panthers do have quite an impressive resume. However, many wonder if Granger can hang with the big dogs in their first time in a league. Manager Brett Shepard and Captain Griffin Smith led this team to a 2016 Grand Slam Championship which included an improbable championship run in the first leg of the Grand Slam. In 2016 tournament play Granger was a combined 3-3 against both 2016 ORWBL pennant winners (New Carlisle & Maple City). If Granger can stay consistent, and transfer this over into league play, Granger could be a major threat to dethrone the Newts in the National League.

Lynn Street Leprechauns:

Lynn Street took over for Bertrand in the middle of the season in 2016. Dustin Curl was able to quickly put together a team, field, and name, which was quite impressive. Curl desereves a lot of credit as he approached Commissioner Friedman within a day of Bertrand’s exit from the league. Although they only managed to scrape one win after taking Bertrand's spot, Leprechaun fans have very high hopes for 2017. For starters, Lynn street is in the most winnable division in the league. They will have to get past the new team in Granger, and the Taco punchers, who had a good regular season last year, but couldn’t manage to advance in the playoffs. Also going for Lynn Street is a huge signing of Levi Miller, one of the league best young all-around players. Not only did Levi lead the White Lightning in Home Runs and RBI’s last season, but he also is one of the fastest and most skilled defensive players in the league. Only high hopes remain from Lynn Street fans, as they will be in an interesting division race in 2017. Their motto has been “Trust the Process” and they hope that the process takes a major leap forward this season.

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