2021 ORWBL World Series Preview
The 2021 ORWBL World Series is almost here as the Granger Panthers are set to take on the Maple City Magic in the Best of 7 series. It will be the second time that these two teams square off in the World Series as they met up in the 2018 World Series as Maple City won their 2nd consecutive title in a four game sweep. By the time the Panthers reached the World Series that year, the majority of their roster was depleted with injuries so they are certainly excited about this next opportunity. It appears that both teams head into this one in pretty good health so we should expect to see a more competitve World Series than what we saw back in 2018. These two teams met up on June 27th and the matchup lived up to the hype as all three games were decided by 1 run. If that is any sort of preview for what we are about to see in the World Series, things are going to be very interesting.
What the Panthers have on the line:
After suffering some playoff heartbreak over the past two seasons, the Panthers were able to win their 2nd National League Pennant after capturing the NL regular season title for the 5th consecutive season. This team has had plenty of regular season success over their first five seasons and are hoping that this is the year that they move past their playoff struggles.
They overcame a huge obstacle defeating the Mishawaka Meatspins as this team had no interest in missing out on a trip to the World Series for the 3rd consecutive season. Now that the Panthers are back in the World Series, they have a massive opportunity right in front of them as they will look to break through and win their first ORWBL World Series title.
What the Magic have on the line:
The 4x defending World Series Champions are already in unchartered territory as they became the first ORWBL team to win three consecutive titles in 2019 before winning their 4th straight in 2020. The Magic will now look to win their 5th straight ORWBL World Series title as they continue to cement themselves as a true Wiffleball dynasty. This will be their 6th consecutive season playing in the World Series as they are the only team to represent the American League in the late summer classic dating back to the 2016 season.
The Magic have received tests from many different AL teams over the years as they have eliminated six different opponents in the ALCS over that span. In the World Series, they have taken on the New Carlisle Newts (3 times), Elkhart BFAM (1 time) and will now take on the Granger Panthers for the second time.
How the Panthers got here:
After winning the regular season crown for the 5th straight season, the Panthers held the top seed in the National League and had home field advantage throughout their playoff run. Granger played stellar defense all season long as they only allowed 122 runs on the year while sporting a league best team ERA under four at 3.98.
They proved that they are incredibly tough to beat with the wind blowing in and they had to win many of their games by playing small ball this year so if the wind is blowing in, it could potentially favor the Panthers. You can expect to see the same lineup that we saw for the majority of the season as the Panthers cycled through 7 full time players before losing Tyler Serocynski to a season ending injury. Outside of their regular starting five you can expect to see Brandon Campbell, Brett Shepard and potentially Will Bartus.
In the NLDS they took on a young upstart Glen Lee Skeeters team who had just eliminated both the New Carlisle Newts and Great Lakes Godfathers in the play in game and Wild Card game. The Panthers were able to put an end to the Skeeters cinderella run as they swept Glen Lee two games to zero.
In the NLCS the Panthers began the series as the road team as they traveled out to Rose Park to take on the 2nd seeded Meatspins. After winning Game 1, Granger appeared to be well on their way to taking a two games to zero series lead. The Meatspins had other plans however as they completed a 7 run comeback to even up the series at one game apiece.
The series then shifted to Snead Field for the conclusion of the series on the following day. The Panthers were able to put their heartbreaking loss behind them as they went out and took care of business by winning Games 3 and 4 to clinch the National League Pennant.
For Granger, getting past that hump was a big moment for this squad who as mentioned has had their share of postseason struggles recently. Granger being able to put that Game 2 loss behind them just goes to show you how this young group continues to develop. The Panthers head into the World Series with a 26-10 overall record and are now just four wins away from their first World Series title in franchise history.
How the Magic got here:
The Magic put together yet another fantastic regular season as they finished with a 25-5 record. Normally that would be good enough to earn the top seed in the playoffs but the Flat Rock Cyclones had other plans. The Cyclones finished with a 26-4 record which had the Magic sitting as the number two seed.
The dynamics have been different in each of their four title runs and this Magic team might be the deepest one that they have had in terms of how many guys are playing well heading into the World Series. Outside of their big 3 of Caleb Jonkman, Wes Ellis, and Jared Jonkman, the Magic knew they would need two guys to separate themselves for the final starting spots. Drew Luther emerged as the unquestioned fourth option throughout the year as he proved to be a legitimate fourth star for Maple City. With the re emergence from Alex Friedman, the Magic have plenty of options at the bottom of the lineup as Danny Hernandez, Shane Anderson, Bo Hofstra, and Bronson Severs all expect to see crucial At Bats in the World Series.
It looked like the two teams would be poised to meet up in the ALCS but the Bourissa Hills Wildcards pulled off the upset in the ALDS. In the Divisional Series, Maple City took care of business against a 22-8 County Line Kings squad in a rematch from the 2020 American League Championship Series. The Magic swept the Kings two games to zero before taking on the Bourissa Hills Wildcards in the ALCS.
It was a great atmosphere at the Palace of Bourissa Hills as the Wildcards hosted an ALCS game for the first time since changing their name from the Pterodactyls to the Wildcards. The Wildcards gave the Magic all that they could handle in Game 1 but Maple City scored 5 runs in the 6th inning to win the opener by the score of 14-13. The Magic’s momentum carried into Game 2 as they ran away with that one by the score of 19-8.
The series shifted to Magic Park for the conclusion of the series and with the wind howling in, runs were tough to come by. Maple City’s Jared Jonkman continued his fantastic season on the mound as he only allowed 1 run in their series clinching win over the Wildcards as Maple City clinched their 6th straight American League pennant with a 5-1 victory. The Magic head into the World Series with an overall record of 30-5 as they are now just four wins away from their 5th consecutive World Series championship.
329 Hits 455
174 HR 256
.404 AVG .490
251 RS 369
117 RA 222
11 SO 15
3.98 ERA 7.52
2021 Head to Head Matchups (Magic won season series 2-1)
Maple City: 8
Maple City: 5
Maple City: 6
Panthers Projected Lineup/Key Players:
Griffin Smith- Smith put together another great season as he finished with a .510 AVG, going 76-149 with 39 HR, 54 Runs, and 54 RBI. He led the Panthers in every hitting category and finished 3rd in the National League MVP vote. Smith split pitching duties with Tyler Serocynski this year as the 3x NL Cy Young award winner decided it was time to develop some other pitching options. "Tiki" shined this year on the mound but a late season injury will force him to miss the World Series which will leave Smith as their top pitching option. Smith will slot into the leadoff spot and take the bump for Game 1 on Sunday as Smith will look to shut down or at least contain the Magic
Alex Zarazee- The 2020 National League MVP award winner did not put up the same type of MVP caliber numbers but he was still very effective as he hit 26 HR, 31 Runs, and 39 RBI while batting at a .343 clip. If Zarazee is able to play closer to his MVP level from last season, Granger will have a great chance to win their first title. Zarazee and Campbell need to be at the top of their game for Granger to win their first ORWBL title and if they are, this series could go the distance.
Seth Campbell- Campbell finished the season with 34 HR, 46 Runs, and 44 RBI as he finished 2nd in every hitting category other than AVG, behind Griffin Smith. Campbell is one of the top fielders in the game and when he is at the top of his game, Granger is very hard to beat. Expect the 2x NL Gold Glove winner to make his fare share of amazing plays in the field, and hopefully there are no fence issues in this World Series!
Daivyn Davis- The youngest Panther took on a huge role this year as he played in all 30 games while finishing with a .430 AVG to go along with 26 HR, 43 Runs, and 37 RBI. He finished 2nd on the team in Average and also finished 2nd in the National League Gold Glove vote. Davis, Campbell and Williams form one of the top outfields in the game and they will definitely make Maple City earn everything.
Austin Williams- Williams put together another quality season as he finished with 28 HR, 41 Runs, and 35 RBI to go along with a .394 AVG. After getting hurt in the Hometown Cup Finals, Williams is back at full strength as his success will be crucial to what Granger does in the series.
More Key Players
Brandon Campbell- Campbell finished the season with 17 HR, 23 Runs, and 29 RBI as he will likely be the first option off the bench for Granger.
Brett Shepard- Brett Shepard had himself a fantastic season on the mound as he led ORWBL with 11 Saves to go along with a sterling 2.25 ERA which should have him in the running for National Closer of the Year. Shep also filled in during the NLCS and hit 3 Home Runs against the Mishawaka Meatspins so he figures to play a role in the World Series.
Magic Projected Lineup/Key Players
Caleb Jonkman- Maple City's anchor quietly put together his finest ORWBL season of his 5 year career as he achieved career highs in every hitting category except for Batting Average. The 3x National Player of the Year led the Magic in every hitting category as he finished with 57 HR, 76 Runs, and 75 RBI. Jonkman finished the season 3rd in the AL MVP race so there is no doubt that he will be looking to prove some voters wrong.
Wes Ellis- Ellis put together another great all around regular season as he hit 33 HR, 57 Runs, and 49 RBI to go along with a .538 AVG. He and Jared Jonkman split the majority of the pitching duties throughout the season and you can expect the same thing in the World Series. Ellis was on top of his game against the Wildcards at The Palace as he hit 5 Home Runs in their 14-13 Game 1 victory in which they needed each and every one of his homers.
Jared Jonkman- Always known for his power hitting, Jonkman emerged onto the scene as a legitimate pitching option this season. He finished the year with an 11-2 record and finished 2nd in the American League Cy Young vote. On top of that he also hit 41 HR, 57 Runs, and 63 RBI while sporting a .463 AVG. Jonkman figures to split pitching duties with Wes Ellis in the World Series. Jonkman was the lone Magic player to play in all 30 regular season games. He finished as the only player in all of ORWBL to win 10+ games, hit 40+ Home Runs and finish with an average above .450 as he has turned into one of the top duel threats in all of ORWBL.
Drew Luther- The New Carlisle Wiffleball Hall of Famer put together one of his finest seasons of his storied ORWBL career as he hit 46 HR, 59 Runs, and 71 RBI to go along with a .479 AVG. He finished 2nd on the team in HR, Runs, and RBI only behind Caleb Jonkman. After missing the first two rounds of the playoffs due to work obligations, Luther figures to re enter the starting lineup for Game 1 of the World Series as he will look to cap off a phenomenal season.
Alex Friedman- After playing sparingly over the course of the last 3 seasons, Friedman re emerged as a legitimate threat for the Magic as he put together one of his best seasons of his ORWBL career. He finished with a career high .495 Batting Average while finishing 5th on the team with 27 HR, 38 Runs, and 38 RBI. Friedman's performance on the field earned him 2021 American League Comeback Player of the Year honors and he will look to cap off what has been a memorable season for the Maple City skipper.
More Key Players
Danny Hernandez- The newest member of the New Carlisle Wiffleball Hall of Game figures to play a key role for the Magic as they look to win their 5th straight title. Hernandez will look to become the first player in ORWBL history to win a World Series with three different teams as he won two with Cult West and one with New Carlisle. Hernandez finished the season with a .419 AVG to go along with 16 HR 25 Runs and 23 RBI.
Shane Anderson- Anderson had another quality all around year as he hit at a .425 clip while hitting 19 HR with 30 Runs and 26 RBI. He also finished the season with a 4-0 record as he has gone 9-0 on the mound over the course of the past two seasons. He has been held out of the playoffs to this point as he has been dealing with some post Hometown Cup injuries but could play a role later in the series if he is able to.
Bo Hofstra- Maple City was dealing with some injuries this year so the Magic signed a former member Bo Hofstra for the final 9 games. Hofstra played a role in Maple City's 2nd title run and he gave the Magic a much needed boost down the stretch as he went 18-36 with 8 HR, 12 Runs, and 12 RBI.
Bronson Severs- The reigning AL comeback Player of the Year award winner battled injuries this season but has worked himself back to full strength. After playing sparingly throughout the season, Severs played in the field during the ALDS before also contributing at the plate in the NLCS as he went 3-6 in the series. Severs figures to play some outfield for the 4x reigning champs and could also make a big impact if the wind is blowing in.
Zach Liberatore- There are some rumors out of Magic camp that their 2013 AL MVP could return to the field for a game or two during the series as it would be Liberatore's first World Series back on the field since their elusive first title back in 2017. If he is able to play, Liberatore would boost the Magic both in the field and at the plate.