2023 ccw season preview
2023 Free Agency Recap
By Keegan Caughey
As February began, so too did Circle City Wiffle Ball’s second-ever Free Agent February. As the clock struck midnight Tuesday, the (unofficial) tampering period ended, and managers began to contact prospective players for (definitely not) the first time.
The belle of the ball this year was Reid Werner, who announced his decision late Wednesday night in typical Reid fashion: anticlimactically, modestly, and way too respectfully. A final three consisting of two of his former teams, the Pork Pistols and the Hounds, and a former CCW dynasty, the 8 Balls, Werner left his past in the dust and elected for new beginnings as he selected Mike Speek Sr.’s 8 Balls.
With Werner off the board and joining Wiffle-whisperer Speek Sr., the rest of the managers collectively sighed, “F*ck,” as they began to try to formulate their teams.
The Moonshots are seeking their third consecutive Dirtyard Cup in 2023, though manager Will Smithey’s maximum value has forced him to abandon some of the team’s core players. Smithey, coming off a campaign that resulted in his second-straight MVP award and his rightful crowning as the 2022 National Wiffle Ball Player of the Year, quickly re-signed veteran and longtime Moonshots power hitter Tyler Gregory, all but guaranteeing him moving on from staples like Blake Voris and Austin Church. In an effort the fill the gaping hole in the middle of his lineup Johnny Sins-style, Smithey went out and recruited Alex Gurtcheff and Dalton Lewis. The two players, both entering their third year in CCW, each offer something different to the Moonshots. While Gurtcheff aims to get his bat back on track this year following a disappointing 2022 season, Lewis hopes to soak in all he can from Smithey to continue his upward trajectory on the mound. Smithey also took a low-risk flyer on Dylan Dowden, planning to try to swap him with his identical twin brother and superior Wiffleballer, Dustin Dowden. The Shots complete their 6-man roster by signing The Perfect Game Man Himself ™, Michael Plourde.
After losing out on Werner, the Hounds manager, heavy hitter (emphasis on HEAVY) Dylan Jones, opted for the next best pitcher on the market in Jake Sprinkle. Sprinkle, known for his sweeping slider and being illogically nicknamed Jerry (author’s note: I truly don’t know whether his real name is Jake or Jerry), has maintained a sub-3.00 ERA the last three years and always remains competitive in the Cy Young race. The Hounds found their number two pitcher in funny-guy and future perennial all-star Myc Witty. Witty began to figure things out on the mound near the end of the season, and his stock should only continue to rise in the years to come thanks to his raw, lefty arm talent and formidable approach at the plate. Jones’ low managerial value, attributed to a down 2022 and his inability to pitch, allowed the Hounds more flexibility with their roster after locking down their pitching rotation. OBP kings Blake Voris and James Haworth officially joined the Hounds as well, solidifying their core and placing them at the top of the preseason rankings. The Hounds rounded out their roster with Northwest Indiana’s self-proclaimed partier, Ian Garavalia.
Desperate to get an elite arm while they still exist, Short Shorts manager and CCW Commissioner Brendan Dudas may have snagged the freshest of them all. Returning to CCW after being forced to the sidelines for the 2022 season, former Eric Starke-product Alec Buchman will join the Short Shorts for 2023. Though Buchman does not offer much at the plate, he brings a gamer mentality to the bump and a resume boasting a sub-2.00 ERA his last season and NWLA experience to a team anxious to find their ace. The Short Shorts biggest weakness last year remained Dudas’ lack of protection from other batters in the lineup, and he set out determined to correct it for 2023. To do so, he brings in none other than former CCW Rookie of the Year and acclaimed homerun hitter Cade Luker. When asked about his jump to the Short Shorts, Luker fittingly said, “The ladies love a big bat in some short shorts. It was an easy decision.” Devon Hensley, a former UIndy standout, was Dudas’ next get. The athletic speedster returns to Indianapolis and CCW from Texas and will immediately challenge some of the league’s best for a Gold Glove. Rounding out the Short Shorts are longtime CCW veteran Keegan Caughey, who has struggled to remain healthy over the past two seasons, and Dalsen Murdock, who is likely to be drunk by his third at bat each Sunday.
Left in a particularly precarious position post-Werner and following the surprise departure of ladies’ man and power hitter Nick Bundy to Dallas, the Pork Pistols future hung in the balance. Though it would have been easy to mail in this year after losing two star players, manager Thomas Hopkins had other ideas in mind. First, Hopkins devoted his attention to retaining the heart and soul of the Pork Pistols and the bane of Dudas’ existence, Tyler Punt. Punt has struggled to remain healthy over the years, but he can be known to sling it with the best of them for one game per year. Next, Hopkins turned his attention to securing the second-best overall free agent available, Ryan Voges. Besides being known for his headbands, large chest, and oversized knee brace, Voges is a Wiffle ball veteran with one of the highest ceilings in the league as evidenced by his value. He helps fill the void of Werner and Bundy all in one and slides perfectly into the Pistols’ lineup behind Hopkins. To continue his rebuild, Hopkins lured in tier-one pitcher and the most improved player from 2022, Dustin Dowden. Dowden, not to be confused with his aforementioned identical twin brother on the Hounds, was dominant last season on both sides of the ball. He will look to build off his success in 2023, but one manager called his value “way too high.” The Pork Pistols brought back Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Butz to round out their signings for the week, putting Hopkins officially in “What the hell is he offering?” territory.
MVP runner-up and CCW dreamboat Taylor Carpenter, tired of not having control over his own destiny, created an expansion franchise for 2023. The Swamp Dragons enter CCW as the auto-favourite for “Coolest Jersey Design” and an instant contender as Carpenter announced his first signing, Austin Alles. The 2022 Rookie of the Year and owner of thighs thicker than trees in the Redwoods, Alles chose to follow Carpenter rather than rejoin Speek Sr.’s 8 Balls. Their combination at the top of the lineup is elite, but questions face the rest of their signings. Kyle Gagliardi, another Northwest Indiana stud and known Long Drink aficionado, elected to be a part of the Swamp Dragons’ inaugural season as well. The main question looming over Gagliardi is not his skill, but whether a busy schedule will allow him to commute to Indianapolis more frequently this year. CCW legend and new father Austin Church will also join forces with Carpenter, hoping to bounce back after two seasons not indicative of the caliber of player he is. Finalizing Carpenter’s debut roster as a manager are social media wizard Landon Ball and benefactor of nepotism Layne DeHart.
The Yakkers, led by CCW Deputy Commissioner and token ginger Rudy Lyon, got off to a slow start in free agency and may suffer the consequences. Despite Lyon’s elite bat and arm, his signings so far have been underwhelming. Missing out on some of the crown jewels available this offseason, Lyon settled for the Palmer brothers. There is simply no denying Aidan Palmer and Holden Palmer (Palmer? I hardly know her!) have talent. Aidan has competed and shut down the best of the best at the NWLA tournament, and his bat is nothing to gloss over; however, he has struggled to find his groove mentally over the last couple years, burning bridges with some managers along the way. Lyon’s gentle approach might just be exactly what Aidan needs to regain his form and get back to his peak. Holden has battled attendance issues over the years, and his new career, which involves hours late into the night, has not helped that. Like Aidan though, Holden's ceiling is among the best to ever grace The Dirtyard, and hopefully he continues his performance from last year. Lyon will have help in setting an example for the Palmers at least, as he signed CCW OG and all-time great Cody House. House is known across the league as one of the most genuine people in the sport, and his insight is guaranteed to make those around him better. Rudy has two draft picks in the upcoming rookie draft, and he'll turn his focus to finding (and hopefully KEEPING) the next rookie gem.
After jumping in headfirst to free agency with the signing of Werner, Mike Speek Sr.’s 8 Balls let the rest of the market shake out quietly. Speek Sr. sat back, likely with some Crown Peach in hand, laughing cynically at the rest of the league, as he gets ready to set forth towards another potential dynasty. With Werner secured, Sr. next locked down forever 8 Ball Connor Morris, who always adds pop to the lineup. Still in search of his number two on the mound and his next project, it was obvious Mitch Buis would be Speek Sr.’s next signing. A powerful lefty arm paired with an absolutely sick Rollie Fingers mustache, Buis is a safe bet to excel under Sr.’s watch and skyrocket in value next year. John Doran and Jay Wilsey were brought in to complete the roster and provide some athletic relief once Speek's legs inevitbly stop working halfway through the season. Regardless of the lack of quality free agents remaining and Speek Sr. still in need of players, it is never smart to count out a team run by a legend.
It has been an offseason filled with movement, and it should only set up CCW for its best year yet. In the words of one of the greatest songs of our generation, “Let’s Get It Started (AH)!”
Time to register for Circle City Wiffle’s 2023 season is winding down! On February 1, registration will close, and roster formation will begin. Last call to start a new summer tradition, and play wiffle ball at the world’s best Wiffle ball field this summer!
We know what you’re thinking. How can little old me - growing older by the day, energy ever-more-fully sapped by my children or my job with negligible athletic pedigree - hope to compete with these WORLD CLASS ATHLETES?!?
Fear not. We care deeply about the accessibility of our league. Speaking as a 30 year old third year player who never played an inning of even high school baseball, if you want to get out there and play, you’ll have the opportunity to. Now, you will be the victim of several Smithey and Werner K’s (also speaking from experience) but our pitch to hit rules (instead of taking a walk you can take a lob pitch) and pitcher innings limits will give you the space to get your feet wet and log some success in the meantime.
But treat your content starved brains to this video from fellow Class of ‘21 rookie Dalton Lewis explaining this, instead.
You can play Wiffle Ball at the Dirtyard in 2023!
And, on the flip side, if you’re looking for a unique and satisfying outlet for your competitive inclinations, CCW can be that for you! Each season features a competitive and well-balanced regular season and playoffs, with teams headlined by some of the top tier wifflers in the country. Then, our creme de la creme of the league joins forces and competes in the biggest wiffle tournaments in the country. Fresh of a National Wiffle League Association championship, our CCW team is primed to continue a run of success at the national level. Will Smithey, CCW MVP and Central Region National Player of the League speaks to that here.
Get off the couch and come play wiffle this Summer! Register here before Free Agent February starts - and see you at The Dirtyard! https://www.circlecitywiffleball.com/player-registration.html
Ranking the 2022 CCW Uniforms
January 18th, 2023
By Dylan Dowden
The return of CCW is only a matter of months away. Even though it is still the offseason, the New Year serves as the ideal turning point to reflect on the previous year. The league's 2022 jerseys were among the best - not only at the league level, but also at a national level, landing an award for our jerseys at UWiffs.
We at CCW are here to provide a list of the top jerseys and uniforms from the most recent season.
With that being said, here’s a look at the power rankings of the uniforms from 2022:
6. Short Shorts (MGR: Brendan Dudas)
Coming for the 6th spot, it’s the Short Shorts. From a fan perspective, you have to love the name. Who doesn’t love wearing the shortest of shorts while being a young adult, and playing Wiffle ball. The Shorts not only had a commissioner's advantage, but their classic red, white, and blue color scheme would have paid off for them if they got creative. I am not sure if it was a back-order problem or if they really thought these “jerseys” were polished. Not only were they not jerseys, but they were tank tops. It would’ve been nice for the ladies but we all know Dudas isn’t drawing that crowd. Tank tops that included nothing but the logo. Dudas declined to offer an explanation on this mess of a jersey, but is reportedly "gunning for #1" in 2023.
5. Hounds (MGR: Dylan Jones)
For the 5th spot, it’s the Hounds. Besides completely copying his alma mater, UIndy, it’s not that bad. The stripes on the jerseys are a good, albeit overdone, touch, and the ability to have two uniforms is a plus. But what sticks out to me, is that it’s just a redesign. The color scheme is a nice dark tone, and if you’re an accessory guy, you won’t have trouble matching this uniform. A little blast from the past for this uniform.
4. Yakkers (MGR: Rudy Lyon)
Coming in at number 4, it’s the Yakkers. I love the name, the backwards K, and the pinstripe sleeves. The only thing keeping them from a higher ranking, is that their most used color is a neutral color. It doesn’t have an “eye-catching” theme or anything that pops when you see it. I am very excited for the future of this uniform as it can climb in the years coming up. The orange and blue color scheme is a nice touch, and the logo is great. A little more creativity with the main part of the uniform and its ranking is skyrocketing.
3. Moonshots (MGR: Will Smithey aka the GOAT)
To round out the top 3, it’s the reigning champs, the Moonshots. The creativity is top tier for the uniform. The color scheme is bright, the shoulder designs down the sleeves, and the transparent logo on the back? WOW! It’s *chefs kiss*. The reigning champs went with the same color scheme as before but the swagger that comes with the jersey is undefeated.
2. Pork Pistols (MGR: Thomas Hopkins)
A top 2 finish for the Pork Pistols in this ranking. Thomas’ creativity was beautiful in this topic. Bright vibrant colors, multiple uniforms, a color scheme that nobody can keep up with. It’s amazing. You can wear any color combination you want. The font on the front and the colors that follow on the sleeve match everything. The jerseys, in other words, are very appealing to the human eye.
1. 8 Balls (MGR: Speek Sr.)
Coming in at the number 1 spot is the 8 Balls. These jerseys are just breathtaking. The classic bright red with black and white. Not only are there multiple uniforms, but they had team shoes, stitching, button ups, and swagger. Speek Sr. did not miss this year when it came to style. They also played with swagger too as they came in with the league’s best record this year. The stitching: amazing. The buttons: suave. This will ultimately go down as one of the best uniforms in CCW history.
With the addition of the Swamp Dragons' amazing color scheme, 2023 is sure to be another amazing year for team uniforms. We're going to make this article an annual tradition, so we're looking forward to watching the teams compete for the top spot!
Dirtyard Classic: Sunday, August 14
Tailgate: 12 PM EST
First Pitch (Game 1): 2 PM EST
Stream: ISC Sports Network https://www.iscsportsnetwork.com/circle-city-wiffle-ball
We're just two days from a mega heavyweight showdown at the Dirtyard: 8 Balls vs Moonshots. The 8 Balls, making their 5th title appearance, are looking to become the first CCW franchise to win 3 Dirtyard Classics. The Moonshots are trying to #RunItBack and be the first team to win back to back titles. Will Smithey and Taylor Carpenter, locked in a tight (?) MVP race, are each trying to prove to us that they're 2022's most valuable player. Austin Alles is attempting to make history and become the first rookie to win Silver Slugger.
Oh! And for the first time in league history, we'll have a live game streamed on television. So, ALLLLL of this juicy drama will unfold LIVE in front of the eyes of millions (rough estimate) of viewers at home.
There's a LOT on the line here, people! Let's use the treasure trove of advanced analytics and data that we have available to analyze and predict a winner!
Hitting: The Shots are right at league average in most of the offensive categories, right where the top team should be in a newly “balanced” league. Enter Austin Alles, who decided balance is just not something he’s interested in this year. Thanks to his surprise production, the 8 Balls are miles ahead of the Moonshots (and the rest of the league). I think Smithey will neutralize some of this offense’s effectiveness, but it’s still the best lineup in the league.
Advantage: 8 Balls (1-0)
Pitching: The 8 Balls have the advantage when it comes to depth, but the Moonshots have the best arm in the league in Will Smithey. Oh, by the way, Smithey “felt like crap” last Sunday and still spun two shutouts to get his squad to this point.
Advantage: Moonshots (1-1)
Fielding: Both squads feature top-tier fielders in Church and Carpenter. The problem for the 8 Balls is that Carpenter is also the starting pitcher for games 1 and 3. Aside from those two, the next best fielder is Moonshots’ Tyler Gregory. With Speek inactive and Carpenter’s limited defensive innings, the 8 Balls just don’t match up.
Advantage: Moonshots (2-1)
Experience: The 8 Balls have Speek, and his experience goes a LOOOONG way, but the Moonshots entire roster (minus Witty) was in this series last year. They have the reigning MVP (CCW & NWLA) plus 3 CCW OGs in Church, Voris and Gregory.
Advantage: Moonshots (3-1)
Drunkenness: Will Smithey simply does not drink during Wiffle. The pressure here is on Taylor Carpenter, who gets better as the Diesels go down. However, I worry that the pressure of this series might cause him to drink less. Does he have a teammate who will be willing to slap him and tell him to walk over to the cooler in between ABs?
Advantage: Moonshots (4-1)
Looks: Ironically enough, if these two teams were playing in a good looks tourney, this would also be the championship matchup. Headlined by Carpenter, Voris, Speek, Gregory and Church, there are like 18 guys in this series that have a legit chance at cracking Ashley Hopkins’ 2023 Top 10 hottest CCW players. Gregory’s dad-bod is only improving, Alles, Witty and Voges are emerging as breakout candidates, Smithey and Ball bring a ruggedness that can’t be taught. It’s truly amazing. The cameras are in for a treat.
Advantage: tie/the women watching from home (4-1-1)
Work/Life/Wiffle Balance: I’m pretty sure Smithey works about 8 remote hours per week and spends the other 32 hours cutting Wiffle balls, honing his pitch command and wiggling his mouse so that his boss thinks he’s still there. Who knows what Carpenter is doing at this point - Librarian? DJ? Yoga instructor? Whatever the case, he may spend more time at the Dirtyard than anyone in the league. Church’s dad— erm, boss just gave him unlimited vacation days. Speek’s Amerifence schedule is actually built AROUND Wiffle, not the other way around. Alles is likely a bodybuilder whose main career goal is to single-handedly keep Wiffle in business from all the replacement balls we have to buy after he hits them. Tyler Gregory watched the NWLA Championship live stream while HIS CHILD WAS POPPING OUT!! Every single player in this series was born to Wiffle. They’re dawgs and there’s a reason they kicked the rest of our asses all year long.
Advantage: Tie (4-1-2)
Jerseys: The 8 Balls will roll out not one, but TWO b-e-a-utiful, hard-to-go-wrong-with black and red jerseys.
Advantage: 8 Balls (4-2-2)
Rooting Interest: Hm… the 8 Balls lost a LOT of their hatability with the addition of Carpenter, and this section revolves entirely around him. With the Moonshots almost all having a title, I think it would be cool to see Taylor finally get his.
Advantage: 8 Balls (4-3-2)
Calves: Austin Alles
Advantage: 8 Balls (4-4-2)
Knowledge of the League Rules: Whichever team has Mike Speek loses this one. We love you Mike, but GET THIS MAN A RULE BOOK!!!
Advantage: Moonshots (5-4-2)
If The Game Were to Break Out Into A Brawl: See “Calves”. I’m fairly certain that Alles would simply pick people up and snap them over his tree trunk legs. Then whoever’s left standing would get RKO’d by Voges.
Advantage: 8 Balls (5-5-2)
After all that advanced analytical analysis, we’re TIED!? Unbelievable and in no way scripted. It looks like you’ll have to make your way to the Dirtyard on Sunday at 2 PM to see how this one shakes out!
Jokes aside, both teams are loaded with awesome players and this series has the potential to be one of the best our league has seen. Whether in person or via stream, DON’T MISS IT!
Player: Will Smithey
'22 Pitching: 52 IP, 7-1, 0.91 ERA, 118 K, 163 FIP
'22 Hitting: .450 AVG, 1.702 OPS, 17 HR, 24 RBI, 51 RC
Achievements: '21 CCW MVP, '21 CCW Champion, '22 NWLA Tournament Champion, National Wiffle All-Hitting & Pitching
Come Sunday, it will have been almost exactly one month since the NWLA title run. Now that you've got a CCW and NWLA title, how do they feel the same? What's different about them?
They feel the same in the sense that each were so rewarding. A lot of work went into both of them, especially from a pitching perspective. Being able to control games with the arm has so much impact on the game. It feels amazing knowing what you worked on came to fruition.
A CCW MVP and Champion, you've achieved more than most players have to this point in their careers. With a lot of Wiffle left in you, which CCW accomplishments are you still chasing?
I want the Cy Young award. That's the part of my game that I've worked on the most and I would love to see it pay off. I'd love to be known as the best all-around player in CCW history when I'm done. There are some amazing players on both sides of the ball, but proving to be great at hitting and pitching has shown to be difficult. That's where I want my legacy to end - being the #1 guy anyone would choose to build a team around.
How do you get locked in before a big game or series?
I make sure to get my arm loose. Hitting just takes a few swings and seeing the ball move. Pitching though is all about getting everything loose, moving fast and seeing my pitch movement. Knowing my ball can move a lot of ways means I just lock in to one pitch to start the day and go from there.
Which 8 Balls player is the X-factor this series? What do they do well?
Taylor has to be their X-factor. He's their best pitcher and hitter. We have to get to him early on both sides, get him chasing a few pitches and putting runs on the board early. As a team, they all hit the ball so well, especially slow pitch. That's one of the more impressive things about their team.
Finish the sentence: In order to win the title, the Moonshots have to...
hit the board. Plain and simple. They will put up runs no matter what, but being on the board limits them to a couple runs when lob pitches are automatic home runs.
Player: Taylor Carpenter
Team: 8 Balls
'22 Pitching: 48 IP, 7-2, 2.88 ERA, 74 K, 104 FIP
'22 Hitting: .430 AVG, 1.599 OPS, 24 HR, 51 RBI, 60 RC
Achievements: '18 CCW DPOY, '18 ASG MVP, '18 All-NWLA Rookie, '18 All-NWLA Fielder, '22 NWLAT Champion
Come Sunday, it will have been almost exactly one month since the NWLA Tournament title run. In what ways has your participation in that tournament helped you as a player?
The [NWLA] tournament has made me a much better fast pitch hitter. I know that having the pitch-to-hit rule in our league is big for me, but I'm just as comfortable trying to square up a fast pitch against some of the best arms if that's what's needed.
You're widely considered as the most talented/skilled player in the league, but have yet to win an MVP. Is that a goal of yours? Do you feel like you've played your best Wiffle ball yet?
MVP is a goal of mine, but not something I'm too concerned about during the season. I thought as long as I was playing well enough to help our team win throughout the year, that I'd be in good shape to put together a solid [MVP] resume.
Some predicted that Mike Speek would have a massive impact on you this year as a player. How has he helped you grow?
Senior has been great for my game. He's always calm out there and that's something that I've struggled with in the past. He's helped me the most on the mound. being able to throw different pitches and staying consistent are things that we have worked on. He's constantly giving advice on how to be better and having that voice really has pushed me.
Which Moonshots player is the X-Factor? What do they do that's special?
No doubt - it's Will [Smithey]. Dawg. He's really one of the best players in the country. He can win games by himself out there at times. We will have to do everything to try to keep him in check on Sunday.
Finish the sentence: In order to win the title, the 8 Balls have to...
Pitch extremely well. I think our bats are the best out there, but both [Ryan] Voges and I have to be our best selves on the mound to give our bats a chance to play. Go Balls!
CCW Playoff Preview
By Brendan Dudas
The bottom 3 teams (Shorts, Pistols, Yakkers) will play a round robin tournament on Wednesday, August 3rd. The winner of the round robin tournament will advance to Sunday’s (August 7th) tournament where the top 3 teams (8 Balls, Hounds, Shots) await. The tournament will operate as a double elimination tournament up until the championship round. The 2 finalists will advance to the Dirtyard Classic on Sunday, August 14th. A best of 3 series will determine the 2022 CCW Champion.
Team Pre(and Re)views
8 Balls (11-5)
The 8 Balls lead CCW in team ERA and team OPS - a rare combo that hasn’t happened since the Short Shorts (Sand Gnats) in 2016. Mike Speek’s Lasso-esque motivation skills, Taylor Carpenter’s development and the winning lottery ticket that is Austin Alles have all come together to form the perfect storm. You have to be pretty nitpicky to find any weaknesses with the 8 Balls, but every team has their flaws. One, their defense is questionable when Carpenter is on the mound. The absence of Speek only hurts that. Two, Carpenter probably ranks 4th (behind Smithey, Werner and Sprinkle) when it comes to the league’s true shutdown aces.
X-Factor: Mike Speek - Senior isn’t even playoff eligible, but anybody that’s been to the Dirtyard this year knows that the 8 Balls are an entirely different team with him present than when he’s not. A championship run will require his focus, motivation and Moonshine Cherries.
The Hounds began 2022 on fire, winning 6 of their first 7 games. However, the offense was struggling and their wins were coming in close, low scoring games. This is not a team that will succeed by trying to outslug opponents, and an 0-4 (-32) record against the 8 Balls definitely spells trouble. However, with a 1-2 punch of Sprinkle and Du. Dowden, the Hounds will find themselves in a spot to win every game.
X-Factor: Dustin Dowden - Dustin has been the best number 2 pitcher in CCW this year, but his slugging has dropped almost 120 points compared to 2021. In order for the Hounds to have playoff success, they’ll need Dowden to provide some much-needed pop behind Dylan Jones.
Will Smithey has done Will Smithey things again in 2022. The league’s defending MVP is tough to beat, but the Shots’ near-.500 record shows that they struggle without the ball in his hands. Behind Smithey, Blake Voris has shown an awesome return to form at the plate and Myc Witty has broken out in a huge way. The defending champs have the MVP, elite defense and veterans all over. If Smithey can win his matchups and they can steal a win during a non-Smithey start, they’ll have a great chance to upgrade their title to “Back To Back Champs”.
X-Factor: Myc Witty - Witty has been lights out in his last 2 starts (10 IP, 2 W, 2 ER, 16 K). As mentioned above, the Shots are going to lean on Smithey to win the “Game 1s”, but if Witty continues this run, they’ll have the best playoff pitching duo in the league.
Short Shorts (7-8)
There’s no better representation of this Shorts team than last Sunday’s games: a 2-1 victory over Smithey & the Shots, followed by a 15-0 beatdown delivered by Werner and the Pistols. If everything goes the Shorts’ way, it seems that their ceiling is up there with some of the better teams in the league (4 of 7 wins came against 8 Balls and Moon Shots). However, when Dudas, H. Palmer and A. Palmer are missing the board, their ceiling crumbles and they become the league’s bottom feeder.
X-Factor: The K-board - This 3-man staff doesn’t allow much contact on fast pitch strikes. However, they struggle with making contact with the board. The x-factor for the Shorts is simply their ability to throw strikes.
Pork Pistols (6-9)
Still one of my dark horse picks to make a run to the Dirtyard Classic, the Pistols can’t be counted out. Reid Werner hasn’t historically boasted the consistency on par with Will Smithey, but his stuff is miles ahead of the next best CCW pitcher. Offensively, this lineup is incredibly balanced (3 hitters have exactly 10 HR and 17 RBI) and will make you pay for missing the board and serving up lob pitches. Historically, this group has spent the regular season “feeling things out”, only to up the intensity for playoffs.
X-Factor: Dalton Lewis - In order to win Wednesday’s round robin (and compete on Sunday), DLewy has to keep the score close during his outings. This serves two purposes: keeps the run differential close in the event of a 3-way tie on Wednesday and allows the Pistols’ offense a chance to go win a game.
The Yakkers stumbled to an 0-7 start and turned in CCW’s worst team ERA and OPS - a double whammy combo that makes it really hard to win games. That being said, I was high on them in the preseason and still believe most of the players on this roster are better than their ‘22 statistical profiles. The Yakkers finished 4-3 and closed out the regular season with wins over the #1 and #2 teams. Momentum is such a large part of playoff success and the Yakkers have it on their side. Come Wednesday, it’s an entirely new season and a fresh slate.
X-Factor: Mitch Buis & Cade Luker - This is a team that relies heavily on being greater than the sum of its parts, but those parts have all been very hit or miss up to this point. For the Yakkers to get going, Mitch Buis has to deliver on the mound and Cade Luker has to be a spark plug at the plate. As a duo, the regular season needs to be left behind them and the focus turned toward winning Wednesday’s round robin.
More Players to Watch
Austin Alles & Taylor Carpenter - The teammates seem to be #1 and #2 in the Silver Slugger race. The 8 Balls will likely drop down to a 4-man lineup and this race likely won’t be finished until the dust settles at the Dirtyard Classic.
James Haworth - Haworth’s unorthodox style gives the Yakkers a much-needed injection of energy when he’s in the lineup. If he’s available, he immediately makes the Yakkers better.
Holden Palmer - Palmer (6 IP, 1 ER vs Moonshots) has turned it up in his recent outings, giving the Shorts an arm that they’ve desperately needed.
Evan Butz - If not for Austin Alles, we’d be talking more about Evan Butz’ (.415, 10 HR) incredible rookie campaign. Expect to see him in the lineup on Wednesday.
Jake Sprinkle & Quinn Cloghessy - The Hounds only have 5 players eligible for the playoffs. Neither of these players accrued full-time hitting stats, but one of them will find themselves in the lineup for playoffs.
Blake Voris - As teams begin to use their 3 IBBs to pitch around Will Smithey, Voris (.459, 7 HR) will be counted on to make those teams pay.
Dirtyard Classic: 8 Balls over Moonshots
Playoff MVP: Austin Alles
Wednesday Round Robin Winner: Pork Pistols
The Two-Way Favorites
The One-Trick Ponies
Circle City Wiffle has partnered with the Hoosier Wiffle Ball League (Indianapolis) to form a developmental path for young players looking to join CCW.
As part of this partnership, CCW will host Hoosier Wiffle's Championship at the Dirtyard, create a Future's Game as part of the CCW All-Star Night and provide assistance for HWBL's growth goals.
The Hoosier Wiffle Ball League will be open to local players between the age of 10 and 14.
Registration, stats and other HWBL info can be found here:
These articles are written by the talented members of the Dirtyard Dish content team.