DIXIE – The full slate of three games went unused in The Dixie League as both the Sanford Celeryfeds and the New Orleans Black Hats swept the Eastern and Western League Championship Series in just two games. The pair are now set to face off in the best of three Dixie League Championship Series for the league Championship.
Sanford entered the ELCS with an identical 12-9-1 record as their opponent Westfield Bombers, a barnstorming team playing out of both Massachusets and Tennessee, and while Westfield was the standings leader based on a 2-1 head-to-head advantage, the Florida based Celeryfeds were heavily favored. Sanford was averaging 2 more runs per game than Westfield, and entered the series on a five game win streak. Sanford was also named the Home Run Derby Cup Winner at the conclusion of the regular season, racking up 55 touchdowns on the year; they were also the league scoring leader, posting 135 runs in the regular season. It took them only two games to be named Eastern League Champions. Game 1 was close, the Celeryfeds winning by a score of 13-11, but in Game 2 they opened up the throttle and defeated Westfield by an impressive 16-8 margin.
New Orleans – a 2016 Pro Bowl Tournament team – is the returning 2015 Dixie League runner-up. They came into the WLCS as the underdog against an Andalusia Arrows team that held the best record in the league. At 16-6-0, the Alabama Archers had established themselves as a major power in the West. Besides the league’s best record, they had won both the Steals Award for defensive turnovers and the Efficiency Award for committing the fewest errors all season, with just 8 INT’s, fumbles, and missed kicks committed all year. In three previous match-ups with the Black Hats, the Arrows defeated them all three times. In the post season, though, New Orleans turned the tables, managing to rally while Andalusia went flat. In a high scoring Game 1, New Orleans manged to outpace their league rivals with a final score of 15-10, and in Game 2, it wasn’t even close as the Black Hats emerged victorious in a 12-4 rout to capture the Western League title for the second consecutive year.
In the first post season in Association history where all playoff teams were run by AF Registered Coaches, Sanford and New Orleans are now set to face off in the 3 game (if necessary) Dixie League Championship Series in Weeks 15, 16, and 17 after a one week bye in Week 14 where they’ll be able to rest their players. In the 2 times these teams have met, the New Orleans squad has come out on top on each occasion, beating Sanford 13-4 in Week 7, and securing a monster, 21-13 victory in Week 9. If the Black Hats can keep the trend alive, it will be the first time ever in 5 Dixie Championships that a team coming out of the West has been crowned Champion. Conversely, the trend Sanford will be looking to keep alive will be New Orleans’ runner-up status, as this will mark the third Dixie Championship match in a row for them (including 2013 while playing as the New Orleans Breakers) and they have lost on all previous tries. The action kicks off in Week 15.