Dixie Playoffs: Eastern, Western Championship Series Preview

DIXIE – The playoffs have arrived for 4 teams in the Dixie League, the AF’s baseball-themed league with low, baseball-type scoring, 9 player rosters, and weekly doubleheader action.  The Dixie playoff format is set up for 4 teams of 10 to make it to the post season, with the top 2 teams in each “League” (or Conference) at the end of the regular season, facing off in a three game series in Weeks 12, 13, and 14 (if neccessary), with the winners headed to another best of three series, this one for the League Championship.  Those four teams are now set and the playoff series are ready to kick off.  This season we have 3 newcomers in the mix and one veteran team back again for another shot at the Dixie League Championship.
Lets look at the matchup’s:

Eastern League Championship Series (ELCS):

Lakeland (Fla) Raiders vs Hinesville (Ga) Warrior

The Lakeland Raiders (11-8-3) finished with the best record in the Eastern League,  just 1 game in front of Hinesville Warrior (10-9-3), with both teams being new ball clubs in the league this season.  During the season, the two met 3 times with each team winning one game.  Hinesville took the first one 12-5, with Lakeland winning the second 13-7.  The 3rd game between the two was a tie, 5-5. During the regular season Lakeland lead the Eastern League in Runs (Total Points) with 113 while Hinesville scored 100 even.   Lakeland had 37 HR’s (TD’s scored) compared to Hinesville’s  33, but the Warrior had  fewer errors ( Interceptions, Fumbles lost, missed field goals) than Lakeland did.

Hinesville started their season red hot, scoring double digit runs in their first four weeks consecutively, but have cooled off in recent weeks, almost looking as if they’re in a slump.  Over the final 5 weeks of the season, they’ve broken double digits in just one game, their Week 11 season finale.  Lakeland, on the other hand, looked to be at their peak in the mid season when they posted their highest scoring games.  They’ve been up and down over the last few weeks to finish the season, so a lot may ride in this series on which of these two shows up to play.  The winner of this best of three series will go on to face the winner of the WLCS, and will have the added psychological advantage of knowing that Eastern League teams are undefeated in the Dixie League Championship Series.

Western League Championship Series (WLCS)

Andalusia (Ala) Arrows vs Austin (Tex) Bulls

The Andalusia Arrows (14-6-2) finished the regular season with the best record in the Dixie League, 2 wins shy of their tally last season, which was also #1 in the league.  Their 2016 campaign helped their AF Registered Coach Wade Bodiford win the 2016 Association Rookie of the Year Award.  Unfortunately, they were not as successful in the post season as they would have liked, losing the 2016 WLCS in 2 games without a single playoff win.  Coming in to the 2017 WLCS, the Alabama Arrows look like a team ready to take all comers with the league-high of 114 runs on the season.  They’ve failed to reach double digits in just 4 games all season and lead the league in fewest Errors (giveaways), most Steals (takeaways), and most double header sweeps.  They fell just a single touchdown short (46) of neighboring Mississippi’s Kokomo Kings (47) in the 2017 Homerun Derby.

The Arrows opponent, Dan “The Polish Rifle” Mayhoff’s Austin Bulls (12-6-4) finished 1 game back from Andalusia, but near the bottom of the league in total scoring and dead last in touchdowns.  Austin’s 2017 season can best be judged in two parts.  In the first half, the Bulls struggled mightily, and languished near the bottom of the standings, but things began to change for the Bulls around week 7 or 8 as they begin to post win after win and steadily climb the standings board.  Going into the final week of the Regular Season, their post season entry was still not assured, and they responded in force, putting up 19 points to close the year and put themselves into the WLCS.  Austin lost to Andalusia twice this year by big margins – 5-11 and 2-14 – but both of those losses came in the early part of the season – Weeks 3 and 6 – as did a 7-7 tie between the two in Week 5, and these Texas Torros may be getting very hot at just the right time.

These clubs have two of the best at the quarterback position, and much of either club’s success could be riding on the arms of their signal callers, though either way, it looks like we’re in for an exciting and high scoring Series for the Western League Championship.  Andalusia and the Lakeland Raiders in the East, are managed by a father and son duo, could we see a matchup in the Dixie League Championship Series that pits youth and enthusiasm against age and treachery?  Do the Bulls have the juice to complete a Cinderella season and bring the Championship home to the Lone Star State or will Hinesville go from opening day drama to triumphant victor?   We shall see at the end of the Semi Final series.