The long slog of the regular season is behind us and the league’s top eight teams have earned themselves a chance at the coveted KFL crown. With our quarterfinal match-ups set to begin this evening, let’s take a closer look at each pairing.
#1 Bell Cartage Outlaws (22-0-2) vs. #8 Jays (10-14)
No matter how you slice it, the Bell Cartage Outlaws enter this one as prohibitive favourites. Their 22-0-2 campaign was the first undefeated regular season in the KFL since 2006. They mashed their way to the league’s best offense (8.46 runs/game), then held opponents in check better than anyone else too (2.38 runs/game), just to leave doubters with no credible cause for complaint. Perhaps most frightening of all is this squad’s balance – for example, they had 10 different players go yard this year. If you manage to get past talented hitters like Justin Krulicki, Brad Hackert, and Derek Martin, your reward is a match-up with the likes of Tim Dubois and Corey Way. And even if you manage to stifle this formidable offense, you have to find a way to put up runs against the tricky pitching trio of Mel Ross, Doug Hoffman, and Jonathan Baker.
That tall task falls to the Jays, a squad in the midst of a considerable comedown after a 13-3-3 regular season in 2014. After merging with the now-defunct Moonshiners, the Jays’ 2015 playoff roster looks significantly different than in recent years. In addition to costly personnel losses, they’ve struggled mightily with injuries this year, losing veteran catcher Jason Clayfield to a knee injury in May and pitcher Nolan Kreis to a season-ending shoulder injury in early June. But they scrapped their way into the final playoff spot and will need to call upon those reserves of resilience if their season is to last much longer. Pitcher Jordan Emick will have to be at his best for the Jays to pull off the major upset. A return from Clayfield would be another welcome shot in the arm.
Season series: The Outlaws took both games this year, 9-1 and 7-0.
#2 Diamond Jaxx (19-4-1) vs. #7 Kings (14-9-1)
The Diamond Jaxx enter the 2015 postseason eyeing a third consecutive KFL title. Led by pitchers Jeff Wise and Kevin Buckley, they boasted the league’s second-ranked defense (2.83 runs/game), to go with the third-ranked offense (7.17 runs/game). Ryan Ferber left the ballpark a league-best eight times and he had plenty of power around him in the Jaxx lineup; 12 players hit four or more home runs in the KFL this year – and one-third of them were on the Jaxx (Ferber, Warren Williams, Chad MacQueen, and Jamie Crickmore). They’ll look to continue playing at an elite level as they try to give the Kings a flashback to their last postseason meeting, a 2-0 Jaxx sweep in the 2013 A semi-finals.
The Kings are not an easy draw for the two-time defending champs. Nick Laurette and Greg Hammell give them a very solid 1-2 punch in the pitching circle, part of the reason they finished with the third-best defense in the league (3.04 runs/game). They may not possess the same potency as the Jaxx throughout the lineup, but the offseason additions of Dan Mitchell and Bob Gillow have complemented strong sticks like Matt McLaren, Hammell, Matt Eidt, and Aaron Correia. Fun fact: The Kings’ only KFL championship came in 2009, when they erased a 2-0 deficit to beat the Jaxx 3-2. Don’t be surprised if this series comes down to the wire as well.
Season series: The Diamond Jaxx swept the season series, winning 7-0 and 5-2.
#3 Smoke (16-8) vs. #6 37s (15-9)
What a difference a year can make. At this time last year, Marc Geddes was helping the Jays to a two-game sweep of the Smoke in the quarterfinals. This year, he’s hoping to help punch the Smoke’s ticket to the semis, teaming with Kevin Pomfret to lead a solid pitching staff. With the father-son duo of Paul and Jeff Clemens setting the table for the middle-of-the-order pop provided by the likes of Brian Kron and Adam Vanwyck, the Smoke have been scoring runs at a steady clip (6.92/game) – and that consistency has helped them to their highest finish in five years.
Unfortunately for the Smoke, their reward is a first-round match-up with the league’s second-best offense (7.42 runs/game), that of the Elmira 37s, who won 13 of their final 18 after a shaky start. Add to that the fact that Jamie Simpson and Dan Martin are likely to see the lion’s share of postseason innings, which were spread more evenly with the 37s’ young arms in the regular season, and there’s definite potential for an upset here. Ben Wideman, Travis Martin, and Tim Freeman also give the 37s some pretty potent sticks to help them try to advance their cause.
Season series: The 37s won both games, 7-0 and 3-2.
#4 Classics (16-8) vs. #5 Selects (15-9)
The Classics know how to peak at the right time, entering the postseason winners of 13 of their last 16 games. Though they can give you a smattering of different looks with their deep stable of arms (including Larry Cox, Rod Fevreau, Sean Geehan, Martin Mauviel, and Bob Underwood), Todd Uhrig has established himself as the staff ace since his midseason arrival. Pair that with an always solid offense led by John Sexton, Jodie Schnarr, and Andrew Mathies, and the Classics could be dreaming of their first KFL title since 2011. History favours the Classics in this match-up as well; over the last decade, they’ve met the Selects three times in the postseason, winning all three (2007 semis, 2010 finals, and 2011 finals).
For their part, the Selects will draw on another piece of history for their confidence – the Selects have advanced at least to the semi-finals in eight of the last nine years. They’ve had an up-and-down season, but they’ll look to follow a proven blueprint of stingy pitching and defense, coupled with just enough run support, to get into the final four again. Shayne Riepert’s the staff ace, notching 112 strikeouts in 83 innings, with Scott Clark and Chad Fink waiting in the wings to provide different looks. Meanwhile, Brett Pfeifer, Darren Strickland, and Kevin Ryrie will look to pace the offense. If these two squads prove to be as even on the diamond as they look on paper, a very good series awaits.
Season series: The Selects took the first meeting 7-2 and the Classics won 6-1 in the second.
- Mike Brown
In order to qualify for playoffs, players must have attended at least 8 regular season games, as per section L.3.i) of the KFL Constitution. Playoff exemptions can also be granted for players suffering significant injuries or other reasonable long-term absences, at the discretion of the Executive.
The following is a complete list of players who have been granted playoff exemptions for 2015:
Jake Albrecht, Predators
Jason Clayfield, Jays
Tim Coverdale, Selects
Sam Forbes, Classics
Bob Gillow, Kings
Will Pierce, Diamond Jaxx
Ben Reid, Thunder
Andrew Schiedel, Predators
Dana Seiling, Classics
Any player not appearing on the above list who is credited with less than 8 games played according to the KFL website (as of September 1, 2015) is ineligible for the 2015 playoffs. Any teams with questions about a player’s eligibility should direct them to the Executive prior to their first playoff game.
- Mike Brown
The Waterloo Classics recently won the 20th annual Ontario Amateur Softball Association (OASA) Masters "A" Provincial Fastball Championship, which was held in St. Clements from July 17 to 19. There were nine teams in the Masters division (for players aged 40 and over) and five in the Legends division (aged 50 and over).
The Classics team got off to a strong start on the Friday night, defeating the Ohsweken Sr. Braves 12-2, but then lost to the Kitchener Outlaws 7-4 Saturday morning. They earned the fifth seed after the initial round of play, meeting the defending champion Waterdown Hammer in one of four Saturday evening quarterfinal games. After being held hitless for six innings, the Classics broke through with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to win 2-1 and advance to the semi-finals.
On Sunday morning, the Classics batted their way to a convincing 13-6 win over the top-seeded Grimsby Diamond Kings to earn a spot in the championship game against the Cambridge Rusty Jiggers, who had edged Kitchener 1-0 in the other semi.
In the championship game, Cambridge scored early to take a 3-0 lead, but the Classics battled back with a couple of runs before Cambridge added one more to make it 4-2. The Classics' bats then came alive, scoring seven unanswered to win 9-4. Todd Uhrig was the winning pitcher in relief of Scott Brookshaw. Uhrig also took the top pitcher award, while John Sexton was named Most Valuable Player. It marked the second OASA Masters provincial championship for the Classics, who won it previously in 2008.
The winning squad had considerable representation from the KFL, including Pat Graham of the Diamond Jaxx, Chad Halstead of the Smoke, Travis Schmidt of the Predators, and Larry Cox, Jodie Schnarr, Dana Seiling, John Sexton, and Todd Uhrig of the Classics. A number of other KFL players participated in both the Masters and Legends division.
Playing for the Cambridge Rusty Jiggers, Frank Farrell of the Classics won the Jack Cook Award, presented annually to the player, manager, or coach who best exemplifies the sportsmanship, leadership, and competitive spirit of Masters fastball in Ontario.
In the Legends division championship game, the Toronto Gators downed the Waterloo Legends 14-3. In the Masters "B" championship, Waterdown defeated the St. Thomas Storm by a score of 6-5.
- Dana Seiling
The KFL is pleased to announce that the KFL All-Stars will play the Australian Men's National Team as part of a double-header at Arand Field, in Milverton, on Tuesday, June 16th. Team Australia is playing a number of exhibition games in Ontario to gear up for the ISF Championships.
The first game of the night will feature Australia vs. the Elmira Expos at 7 p.m.
The second game of the night will be Australia vs the 2015 KFL All-Stars at 9 p.m.
All-Star ballots have been completed by the KFL Team Reps, and your 2015 KFL All-Star selections are as follows, as chosen by their peers:
Ben Wideman - 37s
Bryce Good - Athletics
Chris Davis - Bulldogs
Andrew Mathies - Classics
Chad MacQueen - Diamond Jaxx
Jeff Kolb - Jays
Dan Mitchell - Kings
Nevin Wilson - Predators
Jaron Lefler - Red Sox
Kevin Ryrie - Selects
Adam Vanwyck - Smoke
Kevin Clement - Thunder
Mel Ross - Bell Cartage Outlaws
Kyle Crawford - Bell Cartage Outlaws
Shayne Riepert - Selects
Justin Krulicki - Bell Cartage Outlaws
Ryan Ferber - Diamond Jaxx
Mike Brown - Selects
Gerry Evers - Kings
Pat Anderson - Predators
Mike Hanley - 37s
- Bryan Reeve
Thanks to some glorious early May weather, week one of the 2015 KFL season is in the books. Let’s take a quick tour around the league to see how the landscape has changed since late September, shall we?
Bulldogs (2-0) – The Bulldogs are off to a quick start, already halfway to their 2014 win total after putting up 16 runs combined in wins over the Athletics and Thunder. They’ve returned a solid, stable core and brought in a couple new faces, as they seek their first A-side playoff appearance in recent memory. If they’re pitching staff can steal a game or two, it’s a goal that may well be within reach.
Selects (2-0) – Not much has changed for the Selects since getting swept by the Diamond Jaxx in the KFL Finals to end their 2014 campaign. There are no new faces here, though offensive sparkplug Kevin Ryrie is back after suffering a scary, season-ending injury in their game one loss to the Jaxx. Expect pitching and defense to be their hallmarks once again; they’ve posted back-to-back shutouts over the Predators and Athletics to start the year.
Smoke (2-0) – The Smoke made a splash in the offseason, adding hurler Marc Geddes to shore up a strong pitching staff. If early-season returns are to be trusted, the offense looks just fine too, posting 16 runs in wins over the Kings and Predators to start 2015 off right. All signs seem to be pointing to another season with the Smoke firmly entrenched in the postseason picture.
Bell Cartage Outlaws (1-0) – Perhaps the biggest offseason development for Bell Cartage was the decision of the Outlaws to leave the South Perth league. While there was significant overlap between the Bell Cartage-sponsored KFL and South Perth squads, the KFL incarnation now boasts even deeper reserves of talent – coming off a season in which they already posted the league’s best regular season record. With a pitching staff of Mel Ross, Kyle Crawford, Doug Hoffman, and Jonathon Baker, they’ll always be a tough out. The 37s saw that last week, as the Outlaws downed them 8-3.
Diamond Jaxx (1-0) – In 2014, the Diamond Jaxx put together an impressive run as co-hosts of the ISC World Championships and followed that up with their second straight KFL crown. Unsurprisingly, that kind of success breeds roster stability, meaning the faces are unchanged as they strive for the first KFL three-peat since the old Phoenix/Outlaws won four in a row from 2004 to 2007. They’re off to a great start, beating the veteran Classics 7-2 in their season opener.
37s (1-1) – In their first season in the KFL, the 37s assembled a young core and fought their way into the A-side playoffs. Over the winter, they added ace pitcher Dan Martin to the mix, joining Team Canada outfielder Ben Wideman to give them arguably the league’s top two players. That’s not a bad place to be when entering just your second season. At this rate, the 37s could be a fixture in the KFL’s upper echelon for many years to come.
Classics (1-1) – There’s no substitute for experience and the Classics have plenty of that – with three KFL crowns in the last seven years – but they’ve also added a few new faces this year. One of them, Andrew Mathies, is off to a blistering start, hitting bombs in his first two games with the new squad, who fell to the Jaxx before beating the Red Sox. Runs likely won’t be an issue for this seasoned group and the pitching staff of Bob Underwood, Martin Mauviel, Sean Geehan, and Larry Cox should have them playoff-bound.
Kings (1-1) – The Kings always seem to be in the mix and there’s no reason to expect anything different in 2015. They’ll be led, as always, by a talented pitching staff; Nick Laurette is back as the veteran anchor, complemented by talented youngsters Greg Hammell and Dan Mitchell. The Smoke managed to edge them 5-4 in their opener, but the Kings bounced back with a 4-0 win over the Jays. The smart money says it won’t be their last shutout this season.
Thunder (1-1) – Entering their fifth year in the KFL, the Thunder are hoping the experience amassed over a few losing seasons will start to pay dividends in 2015. The key for them will be putting more runs on the board. Dan Wakeford and Lucas Crosby are the leaders here, but catcher Ben Reid and speedy outfielder Shane Miller are also players to watch.
Athletics (0-2) – The Athletics are technically new to the KFL, but most of their players are not. James Gallo – the brain trust behind the Phillies squad whose 2012 B-side crown was the highlight of their three-year stint in the league – has called on many former teammates to establish the Athletics’ core. They’re off to a slow start, with losses to the Bulldogs and Selects, but it should just be a matter of time before this group finds its footing. Brandon Viol and J.J. Gallo give them one of the league’s best middle infield pairings.
Jays (0-2) – This is not the same Jays crew that went 15-3-3 before losing to the Diamond Jaxx in last year’s semi-finals. Through two games, only five players from that squad have suited up for the new-look Jays, who also boast a sizable contingent from the now-defunct Moonshiners. They’ve been slow out of the gate, losing to very good 37s and Kings teams to start the year. But they certainly have the pieces to compete, including up-and-coming pitcher Tyler Randerson, veteran catcher Jason Clayfield, and Jeff Kolb, the reigning home run champ.
Predators (0-2) – The 2015 season marks a decade for the Predators in the KFL. Each year seems to see incremental change to a roster anchored by mainstays like Dan Gehl, Jamie Lang, Joel Fleming, and Matt Anderson. This squad possesses the skill to compete with anyone in the league, as evidenced by their 13-9 campaign a couple years back. If they hope to return to the A-side this season, though, they’ll need to improve upon a slow start, having lost to the Selects and Smoke in the opening week.
Red Sox (0-2) – The Red Sox return to the KFL after a one-year absence, led by player-manager Sean Tracy, who will split pitching duties with Pete Albrecht and Chris Baldson. There are other familiar faces here, including Justin Peszleny, Jaron Lefler, and Tristan Lefler, who will look to provide a stable core from which to build. The offense looked okay in the opening week, putting up nine runs over two games, but the Sox nonetheless dropped decisions to both the Thunder and Classics.
All in all, it's shaping up to be another competitive year in the KFL. See you at Budd Park!
- Mike Brown
|Bell Cartage Outlaws||24||22||0||2||46||0.917|
|Ryan Ferber||Diamond Jaxx||8|
|Chris Balsdon||Red Sox||6|
|Vice President||Mike Brown|