After two-thirds of the season, the Southwest Division finds themselves poised for a wild finish to the 2015 campaign. If anything, the last two weeks have proven that no week is a "safe week" and no team is assured of a victory. The Genesee Rebels were fortunate to have a BYE during the last week as every single team other than Burlington sustained one loss. The end result of a crazy weekend of games is that EVERY SINGLE TEAM IN THE DIVISION still has a chance at making the playoffs. That will make for a very interesting and exciting final third of the season. Currently, there are really three teams that have a shot at winning the regular season title and earning an automatic bid to the Grand Championships. Remember, this year, the regular season champ along with the playoff champion makes it to the Grannies. This makes the regular season much more important and gives each team a fighting chance to make it.
1. Waterford would be the regular season champ and earn an automatic bid to the Grand Championships.
2. East Troy and Genesee would host playoff games as the 2 and 3 seeds respectively.
3. North Prairie would travel to Genesee and Burlington would travel to East Troy as the 4 and 5 seeds respectively.
But, the season is not over and there is still much left to be determined. So, here's a quick glance at where everybody stands as they enter the final stretch of the season:
1st Place: Waterford: 10-1
Waterford sustained their first loss of the season to the East Troy Express on Sunday losing 8-12. The loss gives the rest of the division a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, there's a chance that they could be dethroned as the regular season champs. The Rivermen have 5 games remaining on the season; 2 against Dousman, Rome, Burlington, and Genesee. While the Rivermen cruised through their first 10 games, the rest of the division is playing tough ball as of late. With anyone capable of winning, the Rivermen will have to bring their A-game (which they are more than capable of doing) to finish the season atop the standings and earn the automatic bid.
2nd Place: East Troy: 7-3
The Express were able to split their weekend series with Waterford which gives them a shot at capturing the regular season title and have them riding a wave of confidence heading into the final stretch. With 3 losses on the year, they will need some help from the rest of the division to make a charge at the title, but they are more than capable of winning the rest of their games. They finish with a DH against Burlington, a tough Saturday/Sunday back-to-back with Oconomowoc and Genesee, and singles against North Prairie and Ixonia If the Express continue playing the way they can, they will surely make the playoffs and even have a shot at the title. They need to be careful, however, as the rest of the division has them in their sights.
3rd Place: Genesee Rebels: 7-4
The Rebels headed into their final bye week with a tough loss to the Titans but still find themselves in a good position to end the year. With games against both East Troy and Waterford to end the year, the Rebels have a betting chance at a 2nd place finish and an outside shot and leapfrogging to the top. They will need to be flawless throughout the remainder of the season and get help from the rest of the division, but there is still a chance. They finish the year with a DH against Rome and singles against Dousman, East Troy, and Waterford. It's a tough schedule to end the year and, if they aren't careful, could find themselves adding more numbers to the loss column instead of the win column. If they play their best ball they should finish the year strong.
4th Place: North Prairie Dawgs: 5-6
After a blistering start to the season, the Dawgs have seen themselves struggling over the last few weeks. They are a team that can beat anyone in the division, but they have also proven that they can lose to anyone in the division. On Sunday, they split with Ixonia which put them below .500 on the year. They are definitely not dead as they have the ability to play very solid baseball. If they can escape the errors and make other teams beat them, they are still a threat. They end with a DH against Oconomowoc, a single against East Troy, and a DH against Dousman. Don't count them out.
5th Place: Burlington Barons: 4-5
The Barons currently find themselves in 5th place and, if the season ended today, the holders of the last playoff spot. This is unfamiliar territory for the Barons as they are used to sitting closer to the top of the division. Don't be fooled by their record. They are still one of the best teams in the division and capable of beating anyone. On Sunday, they may have saved their season with a hard fought 2-1 victory over the Titans. That victory may prove to be huge for Burlington as they look to hold on for a playoff birth. If they make the playoffs, there's no telling what they can do. They have a tough road to end the year, however, as they still have 7 games on the schedule. They have a tough DH with East Troy followed by a DH against Ixonia, a difficult Saturday / Sunday with Oconomowoc and Waterford, and they still need to reschedule a game with Dousman. The 7 games over the final stretch could propel the Barons in either direction.
6th Place: Oconomowoc Titans: 4-6
The Titans are a different team than they have been over the past few years, but they are still young, talented, and hungry for victories. A tough 1-2 loss on Sunday may have put them in a tough spot, but they are very much alive in the hunt for the postseason. The Titans have a very important DH against North Prairie coming up next week followed by a Saturday / Sunday against East Troy and Dousman before finishing with singles against Burlington and Rome. The Titans will need their pitching and defense to come up huge if they hope to jump into playoff contention. Their DH against North Prairie will give them a better idea of where they stand as the season finishes up.
7th Place: Rome Raiders: 4-7
The Raiders are an interesting conundrum. It took them quite a few weeks to notch their first victory, but they have been playing very solid baseball as of late. An almost definite victory for their opponents earl in the season has turned into an area of concern. The Raiders can play with anyone. On Sunday, they played two tough games with Dousman en route to a split. They still have a lot to prove, but they are definitely not rolling over for their opponents. They end the year with an all-important DH against Genesee and singles against Waterford, Ixonia, and Oconomowoc. The DH against Genesee will either propel them into playoff contention, or bury them near the bottom of the division.
8th Place: Dousman Frogs: 3-6
The frogs have found themselves on the short end of the stick more than a few times this year. They have had their fair share of toss losses as they are a better team than their record indicates. On Sunday, they lost an extra-inning affair with Rome before taking game two of the DH. A sweet on Sunday may have ended their season, but they are more than capable of finding themselves in the playoffs at the end of the year. With 7 games remaining, they have some tough sledding ahead, but they could very easily end the year on a high note. If they can survive a tough DH against Waterford this coming week, they have singles against Genesee and Oconomowoc, a Saturday/Sunday against North Prairie to end the season and still need to reschedule against Burlington. The good news for them is they play teams that are ahead of them in the standings and could leapfrog a few with victories. The bad news is they play teams that are ahead of them in the standings and could lose a few more tough ones before the season is over.
9th Place: Ixonia Snappers: 3-9
The Snappers played two close games with North Prairie on Sunday and were able to salvage a split. The victory kept their playoff chances alive as they could hypothetically finish the season and find themselves in the playoffs. They would need to win out AND get a lot of help from the division. The good news for them is they are not dead. At least, not yet. The Snappers have shown offensive life at times throughout the year, but still need to find some help on the mound. The Snappers finish with a DH against Burlington and singles against Rome and East Troy. The Snappers look to play spoiler over their last four games and will show up ready to go.