With another ISWB league season in the books, it’s time to take a look back at each team’s season and their outlooks toward the off-season and summer 2016.
Sand Gnats: Not much else could have gone better for the Sand Gnats in 2015 as they cruised to a championship, finishing the year with a 20-2 record. Brendan Dudas and Drake Capps provided an unstoppable batting-pitching force, and Josh Hart and Keegan Caughey were the most consistent 3-4 players in the league.
The only thing stopping the Gnats from being favorites in 2016 is boredom. Common sense says the whole team should be back together, but champions tend to fall into trouble the off-seasons after. It is well-known that Capps has a strong relationship with Skeeters’ general manager Austin Church, and whispers of a trade have come up in recent weeks. Also, the Seawolves have shown interest in convincing Hart to leave and play for them. Gnats GM Dudas has stated that he hopes to keep his team intact.
Skeeters: The Skeeters had another good season, but once again failed to accomplish their primary goal of winning a title, settling for runner-up in the second year in a row. Their offense was powerful all year, but their 0-6 record against the Sand Gnats (including 0-3 in the playoffs) has Austin Church looking to making a move to put them over the top. Sources say Church will go after Capps this off-season, and is also willing to lose Dillon Douthitt. As long as Church, Blake Voris, and Brandon Benedict return, the Skeeters will fight for a title in 2016.
Seawolves: The Wolves were tough to gauge this year. GM Cody House and Dakota Rogers were consistent players all season, but a rotating cast of people in the 3-4 roster spots kept them from real title contention. Despite not having a complete team, the Seawolves were a mere Benedict swing away from making the championship series.
House will likely be the most active GM this off-season, as he will pursue players that can regularly show up and contribute. The team has shown interest in Hart from the Gnats, but will also likely go after first-year players. House and Rodgers reportedly know plenty of baseball players they hope to recruit to the Wiffleball world.
Otters: The 2014 champions became a bit unglued in the playoffs. After fighting back during the regular season to earn the 2 seed, the Otters struggled in the postseason, never really giving themselves a chance at repeating. GM Sawyer Mitchell was a bit erratic in several ways all season, but when it comes down to it, he is one of the best overall players in the league.
Christian Abner and Slater Burge are likely to return, but the Otters need to find a fourth player, hopefully who can pitch, if they want to compete at the top in 2016.
Naturals: The Naturals were filled with first-year players, and went through some growing pains, but something is there. The Naturals handed the Sand Gnats one of their only 2 losses, and lasted longer in the playoffs than anyone expected.
Michael Plourde is a solid pitcher, and Jacob Harris, Derek Benedict, and Dalton Demeter all had nice moments at the plate. If the team returns intact, they will be competitive. If the team wants to compete for a title, they’ll need to find or develop a second pitcher who can regularly face top teams.
Manatees: The Manatees were a disaster this year, going 1-19 while allowing a whopping 221 runs, but hope is not lost for GM Eli Pulley. He has a nice hitter in Mason Nickell, and multiple reports say Pulley plans to release Zach Preece and Colin Cline, who, to be blunt, were absolute embarrassments as players.
Pulley plans to actively recruit new players who can provide some competiveness to his team. And if he can land fresh talent that can hit and pitch, the Manatees might actually be able to put up a fight in 2016.