Opening Day Recap
Another Opening Day is in the books as the 16th season of the Old Republic Wiffleball League is underway! Over the offseason, the league grew to 18 teams which is our largest total yet. All 18 teams were in action on Sunday across 9 different ORWBL ballparks. There will be one inter-league matchup per week with the exception of Week 6 in which every matchup is inter-league. Let's go around the league to find out what happened on Opening Day, starting with the defending ORWBL World Series Champion, Granger Panthers.
Panthers @ Heat
The defending World Series champions are closing in on naming their new ballpark as there are currently 3 separate bidders looking to land the Panthers. With that said, Granger opened up their season on the road as they will have their ring ceremony ahead of their Week 2 matchup. The Panthers traveled to Lynn Williams Field to take on the Hudson Lake Heat who made the move over to the National League after spending 8 seasons in the American League. Hits and runs were extremely tough to come by for both teams as there were only 9 runs scored on the day, with Granger scoring 8 of them. While most of the players struggled to get much going, Daivyn Davis led the charge for Granger by going 9/15 with 3 RBI's. Austin Williams also drove in 3 while Seth Campbell scored half of their runs with 4. 2021 World Series MVP winner Griffin Smith struggled mightily at the plate but did his thing on the mound, allowing only 1 run while winning all 3 games. The Panthers will head back to there eventual home with a 3-0 record where they will welcome the Scottsdale Sluggers for ring day where they will welcome back Andy Migas and Daniel Shaefer. As for the Heat, things will not get any easier out of the gates as they will host the South Bend Truffle Butter in ORWBL's Week 2 inter-league matchup.
Magic @ Godfathers
For the first time since the 2017 regular season, the Maple City Magic head into the season not in the top spot. Maple City's run of 4 straight World Series titles came to an end last August after getting swept by the Granger Panthers four games to none. Without the pressure of being the champions, the Magic surely looked as loose as ever. The Magic came out of the gates sprinting as they dominated the Godfathers 25-5 to open up the series. The top 4 hitters in the Magic lineup all had a phenomenal series while Caleb Jonkman, Wes Ellis, and Jared Jonkman all sit atop the ORWBL hitting leaderboards after Week 1. Offseason acquisition Erik Detmar made his presence immediately felt by going 6-7 in his Maple City debut. Caleb Jonkman and Wes Ellis each hit an ORWBL league leading 9 Opening Day Home Runs while Jared Jonkman was right behind them with 8. The Magic cycled through 6 guys in the bottom 2 slots as they appear to be a much deeper Maple City team than we saw last season. After finishing 2nd in the AL Cy Young race last season, Jared Jonkman took the mound and picked up all 3 wins. Maple City's Drew Luther picked up all 3 saves as he leads the league in saves after Week 1. The Magic will look to build on. this effort in Week 2 as they will host the Flat Rock Cyclones. Meanwhile, Great Lakes will look to get back on the right track as they get a favorable matchup against the Desparados. After spending the past 2 seasons in the NL, the Godfathers will look to put together a winning record back in the American League. With the Magic now out of the way, let's see if they can turn it on. While they did not have much to celebrate on Opening Day, Matador Smith played very well as he went 4-8 with 4 HR. His 2.00 AB/HR has him tied with Matt Soos headed into Week 2. Mark Haase also had a nice day statistically as he belted out 6 Home Runs.
Sluggers @ Leprechauns
Shortly after the Scottsdale Sluggers announced their return to the league, these two teams requested an Opening Day matchup. That is exactly what took place on Opening Day out at Rocko's Park as the Sluggers made their return to the league. With that said, Leps fans were able to welcome Adam Cseh and Connor Mowers back to the ballpark as both players played with the Leps briefly last season. This ended up being one of the most competitive series of the weekend as all 3 games were decided by 3 runs or less. The Sluggers got that first win out of the way in Game 1 before a crazy back and forth affair in Game 2 that went 8 innings. The Sluggers were not able to complete the sweep however as the Leps salvaged the finale. 2021 World Series Champions Andy Migas and Daniel Shaefer made their debut's for the Sluggers as Migas blasted 5 HR with Shaefer hitting 4. Nate Marino and Connor Mowers also hit 4 Home Runs as the Sluggers wasted no time returning to the league, picking up an Opening Day series win. Luke Armstrong and Levi Miller led the Leps charge as Armstrong hit 5 HR while Miller added 4. The Sluggers will look to build off of this series win in Week 2 as they will travel to Granger to take on the defending champs. Meanwhile, the Leps will hit the road for Mishawaka where they will have a tough one against the Meatspins as they will face off against former teammate Austin Traxler.
Desparados @ OTF
The Warren Desparados made their ORWBL debut on Sunday as they traveled to take on Crown Point. After going 6-24 in their first season, Crown Point was able to get off to a 3-0 start in the 2022 campaign after sweeping Warren. With runs hard to come by, Crown Point was able to do more than enough to win all 3 games. Offseason acquisition Jimmy Tumpane pitched three gem's in his OTF debut as he held the Desparados scoreless over 16 innings of work. OTF's Isaiah WIlliams led the charge at the plate by going 4/7 with their lone Home Run. Warren could not get much going as Jay Smith led the way with 2 hits. Crown Point sits in a 3 way tie atop the American League after Opening Day as they will look to make a statement in Week 2 against a talented Wiffle Dees squad. As for Warren, they hope that there luck will change in Week 2 as they will welcome the Great Lakes Godfathers to Warren Township Park.
Newts @ Meatspins
The New Carlisle Newts traveled to Rose Park to take on the Meatspins for another early season matchup between the squads. New Carlisle jumped out early and won the first 2 games of the series before Mishawaka was able to salvage the series by winning the finale. On paper, this was the best matchup across the league on Opening Day as both of these teams have World Series aspirations. The Newts received great outings by the majority of their lineup but it was Matt Soos, Scott Soos, and Aidan Cotter who led the charge. Matt Soos had a team leading 9 hits and 10 RBI while he tied his brother Scott with 8 Home Runs. Aidan Cotter added 7 HR while also handling the pitching duties as he picked up a pair of wins. All in all, it was a great start to the season for New Carlisle who will continue their season opening road trip in Week 2 against the Billy Goats. As for the Meatspins, they will stay at home as they will host the Leprechauns. Offseason pickup and former Leprechaun Austin Traxler made his Meatspins debut and played very well as he hit 5 HR, going 9/17. With Traxler now in the fold, this Mishawaka team is even more dangerous and it will be fun to watch them develop over the course of the season. Traxler will get to take on his old squad in Week 2!
Knights @ Billy Goats
The first year Kingsbury Knights traveled to The Goat House to take on the Billy Goats in their inaugural ORWBL series. For Twin Branch, they made their return to the National League after spending the previous 2 seasons in the AL. The Knights may have had some nerves in Game 1 as they were shutout by 2x Cy Young winner Andrew Doran. The Billy Goats kept things rolling in Game 2 as they clinched the series with a 10-3 win. The Knights got to see crafty veteran Jake Lawrence in Game 2 as he allowed only 1 run across 5 innings. The bats came alive for both teams in the finale as the Knights were able to salvage the series while picking up their first ever ORWBL win in the process! For the Goats, it was Lucas Oletti who led the way by going 11/17 with 6 HR and 10 RBI. Andrew Doran also had himself quite the start to the season as he went 8/10 on the day. Doran leads all of ORWBL in Batting Average after week 1 as he hit for an .800 Average. Doran and Lawrence each picked up wins for Twin Branch as both figure to play a big role on the mound. Twin Branch also saw the return of former league MVP winner as Tony Koch came out of ORWBL retirement to play for the Goats this season. It appeared as though Koch had not left the game as he went 9/15 with 2 HR on the day as he figures to be a great addition to the lineup. The Goats will look to build off of this series win as they will take on the Mishawaka Meatspins in a tough matchup in Week 2. If the Goats are able to win the series, it would be huge considering they have gotten off to slow starts in each of the past 2 seasons. As for Kingsbury, they will look to pick up their first ever series win as they will host the Glen Lee Skeeters in their home opener. They had a couple players put together notable Opening Day performances as Adin Newman went 7/13 with 5 Runs while Sam Bull went 6/13 with 4 Home Runs.
Wiffle Dees @ Wildcards
The Cityless Wiffle Dees made their ORWBL debut on Sunday as they traveled to The Palace to take on the Wildcards. Although the Wiffle Dees are a new team, they are composed of ORWBL veterans so it was nothing new to them. This was one of the most competitive series of the weekend as all 3 games were decided by 3 runs or less, just like the Sluggers/Leps series. The Wildcards were able to win a pair of 1 run ballgames in Games 1 and 2 but it was the Wiffle Dees who were able to salvage the series with a Game 3 win. Both of these teams have World Series aspirations so there is little surprise that it was such a competitive series. Bourissa Hills' Luke Stanisci led the way both on the mound and at the plate as he won both games while also going 8/13. Reigning AL MVP DJ Hill led the Wildcards in Homers with 5. Former New Carlisle Newt Garrett Ruiz led the way for the Dees as he went 10/17 with 4 HR and 7 RBI. The Wildcards will look to win another series in Week 2 as they will travel to Mill Pond to take on the Pink Pandas. Meanwhile, Cityless will have their home opener at the storied Garage against a Crown Point team who is coming in feeling good after their first ever sweep in franchise history.
Pink Pandas @ Truffle Butter
The South Bend Truffle Butter made the most noise of any team in the offseason as they signed Walter Griffin III, Brandon Terry, and Josh Trim to the squad. The new look Truffle Butter looked just as advertised as they made relatively quick work of the Pink Pandas in 2 out of the 3 games. South Bend blanked Mill Pond in the opener before both teams went back and forth in Game 2. That one ended with a Ryan Galiher walk off Home Run as South Bend clinched the series victory with that win. The breaks fell off for the Pandas in the finale as their heartbreaking loss in Game 2 may have carried over. South Bend rolled to a 26-4 win to complete the Opening Day sweep. Their new additions all played well as Walter Griffin III went 13/21 with 7 HR while Brandon Terry went 9/21 with 4. HR. Reigning NL Most Improved Player Josh Trim went 9/15 with 2 HR and 7 RBI in his Truffle Butter debut. The captain Ryan Galiher also had a nice day by going 11/17 with 7 HR. All in all this South Bend team is loaded and they will look to keep things rolling in Week 2 against the Hudson Lake Heat. As for Mill Pond, they had a couple players stand out on Opening Day. Zach Christy picked up right where he left off by going 6/14 with 4 HR. Avry Plonka also played well, going 6/13 with 3 HR. Mill Pond will look to get in the win column in Week 2 as they will host the Wildcards.
Cyclones @ Skeeters
The new look Flat Rock Cyclones traveled to The Marsh to take on the Skeeters in ORWBL's Week 1 inter-league matchup. It was the American League that got the best of things in this one as Flat Rock was able to take 2 out of 3 to win the series. Flat Rock won both of the first 2 games as Owen and Sam Satoski each put the squad on their back's. Following in line with the majority of the Opening Day series', the team that dropped the first 2 games was able to salvage the finale. That was the instance in 5 different series' on Opening Day, with the other 4 being sweeps. After losing Brandon Terry, and Walter Griffin III many wondered if this team would still be around. However, this Cyclones squad is filled with a group of guys who have just been waiting for their opportunity and it has finally come. Look for the Cyclones to surprise some teams this year as they will look to build off of their Opening Day series win in Week 2 against the Magic on the road. As mentioned, Owen Satoski had a great day as he went 10/18 with 6 HR and 9 RBI. Sam Satoski went 8/17 with 6 HR as well. Collin Froedge got his power bat out as he chipped in 5 long balls. After winning a pair of playoff games last season, the Skeeters will look to take that next step this season. Glen Lee will look to win their first series of the season in Week 2 as they will take on the first year Kingsbury Knights.