National League Postseason Preview
The 2022 ORWBL Postseason begins on Sunday with our new look playoff format! All eighteen teams will be in action as the #8 and #9 seeds in each league will square off in the Play-In Game. There will then be eight different Wild Card Round Best of 3 Series', with the winners advancing to the Divisional Series (Best of 3) which will take place on Sunday, August 7th. Let's take a look at each playoff matchup on the National League side of the bracket.
Play-In Game: #9 Lynn Street Leprechauns @ #8 Scottsdale Sluggers (Hosted by Panthers)
The Sluggers and Leprechauns will kick off the Postseason by squaring off in the Play-In game with the winner advancing to play the defending World Series champion Granger Panthers. These two teams met up all the way back on Opening Day as the Sluggers were able to take two out of three in their return to ORWBL play. Both teams have shown to be very streaky throughout the course of the season so this one could truly go either way.
The Sluggers are a proven hitting team as they finished with the 2nd most runs scored in the National League. Scottsdale alternated between four different pitchers for much of the season so it will be interesting to see who gets the start on the mound. Scottsdale was one of the better Home Run hitting teams in the league as they had four players hit 34 or more HR (Cseh- 34, Con. Mowers- 41, N. Marino- 41, Schafer (43). After winning a World Series title as a role player with the Panthers, Daniel Schafer made the move to Scottsdale and had himself a breakout season. Schafer finished as the team leader in every hitting category as he makes an intriguing case for MVP.
As for Lynn Street, you have to imagine it will be Luke Armstrong on the mound as he pitched 123 Innings this year. Leprechauns star Levi Miller will be the key to victory for Lynn Street who will be playing as the road team in this win or go home scenario. Lynn Street is coming into this one fresh off of a three game sweep over the Wildcards to end the season so you already know that Lep mode has been fully activated. Regardless of the outcome on Sunday, the total number of beers consumed in this lone play in game could outnumber the totals from every other best of 3 series!
Wild Card Round (Best of 3) Sluggers/Leprechauns Winner @ #1 Granger Panthers
The defending World Series Champion Granger Panthers finished as the National League regular season champion for the 6th consecutive year after going 25-5. Up until last season, Granger was known for dominating the regular season but falling short in the playoffs. That all changed last year after they swept the Maple City Magic to claim their first ORWBL title.
Granger took a more laid back approach to the regular season this year as they hit with a six man lineup for nearly the entirety of the season. Granger still managed to dominate their competition as they led the NL in Runs Scored while also giving up the least amount of runs in all of ORWBL.
The Panthers defense was dominant all season long behind Cy Young candidate Griffin Smith. After taking on a little lesser role on the mound last year, Smith became the Panthers workhorse again as he finished the season with a 22-4 record as he had the most wins in ORWBL.
They had five different players hit 37 or more HR which was the most of any team (Smith- 37, Davis- 38, S. Campbell- 41, Williams- 45, Zarazee- 48). 2020 NL MVP Alex Zarazee put himself right in the heart of the MVP race after hitting 48 HR to go along with a .538 Average. And to cap things off, reigning National Closer of the Year Brett Shepard finished as the league leader in Saves once again with 16. All in all, it was a great season for Granger as they will now prepare to take on the winner of the play-in game. Granger went a combined 6-0 against Scottsdale and Lynn Street this season.
Wild Card Round (Best of 3) #5 New Carlisle Newts @ #4 Glen Lee Skeeters
The New Carlisle Newts and Glen Lee Skeeters will meet up in a highly anticipated first round matchup. Both of these squads sat in the 4th and 5th spots for the majority of the season as these two teams were just destined to face each other once more in the Postseason.
Last year, Glen Lee pulled off a huge playoff upset as they eliminated the storied New Carlisle Newts franchise in their first season in the league before falling to the Panthers. It was a massive statement playoff win for the upstart Skeeters who carried that momentum into this season. Glen Lee then picked up their first ever regular season sweep against the Newts in Week 3, highlighted by their 27 inning marathon win at Migley Field.
Over the 2nd half of the season however, Glen Lee has struggled as they have lost four out of their last 5 series going up against the toughest part of their schedule. Meanwhile, New Carlisle has won 3 out of their last 4 series before going on to win their 2nd consecutive World Wiffleball Tournament in Midlothian, IL over the weekend. With that said, New Carlisle is coming into this one red hot as they would love to reverse the script on Glen Lee and end their season this year.
Overall, this should be a highly entertaining series as these two teams have wanted to play each other in the postseason. For Glen Lee, the key to victory is going to be Kade Stone as he played a massive role in their sweep of New Carlisle in Week 3 as he figures to play a huge role both on the mound and at the plate.
Meanwhile, New Carlisle will be led by MVP candidate Garrett Curless who put together yet another phenomenal season. Curless finished as the Newts team leader in every hitting category while also leading the National League in HR (57) and Runs (68). All in all, The Marsch is the place to be on Sunday as the Skeeters will host their first ever home playoff series.
Wild Card Round (Best of 3) #6 Kingsbury Knights @ #3 Mishawaka Meatspins
The Mishawaka Meatspins will play host as they welcome the 6th seeded and first year ballclub in the Kingsbury Knights to Rose Park. These two teams met up not too long ago as the Meatspins were able to take two out of three in a very competitive series back in Week 8. Mishawaka is heading into the postseason playing their best wiffleball of the summer as they have won four consecutive series'.
After a so so 10-8 start, Mishawaka has really turned it on as they finished the season 9-3 over their final twelve games. The Spins' best five of Rieff, Schuster, Traxler, Thoman, and Warmoth is a group that can take down any team on any day as their core is one of the best in the league. If their entire core is able to show up in the postseason, there is no reason why Mishawaka can't make a run at a World Series title. They fell just two wins shy from a trip to the World Series last year and this experienced group looks like they are hitting their stride at the perfect time.
Mishawaka did not get an easy first round matchup by any means however by getting paired up with the Knights. Although they finished with a 12-18 record, Kingsbury showed that they can compete in each and every ballgame. They gave the defending champs all that they could handle and despite finishing six games below .500, they outscored their opponents by 28 runs in their inaugural season.
The Knights had only seven players take the field throughout the course of the year as they mainly cycled through 6 guys. With that said, this is a team that has a lot more experience playing with their main lineup so they already know who they are going to be trotting out onto the field. The Knights had a handful of first year players who burst onto the scene in a big way. They had four different players hit 29 or more HR (Bashaw- 29, Skornog- 34, Newman- 38, Bull- 48).
They also had Jarrod Michael who developed as a pitcher, finishing his rookie season with a 9-4 record to go along with a 5.90 ERA while also adding 17 HR at the plate. Adin Newman was voted in by the Managers as a National League All Star starter as he put together a fantastic Rookie season hitting 38 HR, 47 RBI, 49 RBI to go along with a .484 Batting Average. The most notable storyline out of Kingsbury in 2022 was the rise of their Rookie Sam Bull. Bull put together a terrific season from start to finish as he put himself right in the thick of the MVP race. Bull finished with 48 HR (Tied-2nd in NL) 77 RBI (1st in NL) and 63 Runs (3rd in NL) while also finishing 4th in the National League in Batting Average at .524.
Bull put on a show at the ORWBL All Star Game as he hit 4 HR across 2 games after competing in the HR Derby as well. Bull made the NL All Star team as he was deservingly voted in by the fans as the National League Last Man In. It was safe to say that the fans made the right call on that one as Bull really made a big name for himself on that night. All in all, this figures to be a competitive series between a pair of quality wiffleball teams.
Wild Card Round (Best of 3) #7 Hudson Lake Heat @ #2 Twin Branch Billy Goats
In our final National League Wild Card Round Series' we have the 7th seeded Hudson Lake Heat traveling to take on the 2nd seeded Twin Branch Billy Goats at The Goat House. These two teams met up with each other back in Week 4 as the Billy Goats were able to sweep Hudson Lake. The fact that Hudson Lake was able to work their way out of the play-in game was impressive stuff as they looked poised to finish 8th or 9th from the start.
After making the move from the AL to the NL, Hudson Lake struggled early on as they went 1-11 in their first 12 games. Over their final 18 games, Hudson Lake went 11-7 as they won four out of their final six series' while avoiding getting swept in those two series' defeats. The Heat have managed to do all of this while having uncertainty around their roster from week to week.
They did receive consistent production all season long out of NL All Star Starter Ben McDonald and ace Doug Benner. McDonald led the team in HR (28), RBI (41), Runs (40) while finishing 2nd on the team with a .516 Average. While McDonald served as Hudson Lake's top power hitter, Doug Benner aced his role setting the tone as he led Hudson Lake with a .559 Average to go along with 85 Hits as he finished 6th in ORWBL in both of those categories. You could always count on Benner as he played in all of Hudson Lake's 30 games.
Benner also went 11-16 on the mound as he finished with the 6th lowest ERA in all of ORWBL. Hudson Lake will be able to count on McDonald and Benner, but if they want to take down Twin Branch, they will need big production out of guys like Bob Bushman, Jared Monhaut, and Bailey Rhed. If they are able to get their full lineup there, this series could go the distance.
Meanwhile the Twin Branch Billy Goats will come into this one after putting together a great all around season in which they finished 20-10. Like Hudson Lake, Twin Branch also made the jump to the National League this year after back to back losing seasons. The Billy Goats looked like the Twin Branch team that was within one win from a trip to the World Series in back to back seasons.
This is just an all around talented ballclub as they have many different weapons at their dispel. They had six different players eclipse the 20 HR mark while also doing a lot of their damage without Lucas Oletti. They were the only team in ORWBL to win their respective series' against both the Panthers and Magic. They saw their offseason acquisition of Tony Koch pan out in a big way as Koch finished with the 4th highest Batting Average in the league at .570. Koch added 25 HR which placed him 4th on the team behind White (26), Minerva (28) and Oletti (30).
After spending the last 3 seasons retired from the league, Koch made a very strong case to win the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Twin Branch also successfully utilized a two man pitching rotation as they went back and forth between All Stars Andrew Doran and Jake Lawrence. Doran finished with a 9-5 record while the seasoned veteran Jake Lawrence went 8-4 on the bump.
You can expect that Manager Andrew Doran will continue cycling between both pitchers as it has proven to be a highly effective strategy this season. All in all, this one will come down to the guys that Hudson Lake is able to bring. If they are playing without much of their core, it is going to be tough to upset the Billy Goats at That Goat House, but if they have their core guys there this could be one of the more competitive series we see this weekend.