After 7 weeks, many hits, many pitches, (and many rainouts), it is playoff time for Division II! Here is your go-to guide for everything about the 2021 Division II postseason:
This year’s bracket is single-elimination format, and starts this Wednesday, July 21st running through July 23rd. Lake Mary(1) and Deland(2) both earned a 1st-round bye thanks to their respective 1-2 finishes in the regular season standings.
Leesburg(6) travels to Sanford(3) at 10:30 on Wednesday, the winner advances to play Deland(2) on Thursday morning. On the other side of the bracket, rivals Winter Garden(5) and Winter Park(4) square off Wednesday morning for the right to play the top-seeded Boom the following day. Here is everything you have to know about each team, and what it will take for them to take home the title:
The Boom have been simply dominant this season, sporting a 11-2 record and a +41 run differential. Most notably, they swept the second-seeded Hammers in the season series, 3 games to none.
Offensively, they have been consistent all year. Their .275 team batting average is the second highest in the league. Outfielder Jacob French has been firmly in the MVP hunt. His .552 batting average is second highest in the league, and has propelled him to a recent call-up to the Sanford River Rats. Hunter Hollman has been a staple all year as well, sporting a .500 on-base percentage. If Lake Mary takes home the title, these two will certainly play a big role.
On the mound, Lake Mary’s staff has proven that the opponent will have to earn their way on to the bases. The staff has the lowest number of walks allowed in the league, a big contributing factor to their stellar 3.96 team ERA. Sebastian Miller has been the go-to starter for the Boom, tied for the league lead with 28 innings pitched. Behind him, expect the league leader in ERA Reece Lisle, and the lefty out of South Florida State Brett Birchler to get the majority of innings out of the bullpen.
At 10-4, the Hammers have been arguably the most complete team in the league this year. Their lineup is the only team in the league that collectively bats above .300, and their pitching staff owns the best ERA in the league at 3.74.
Cade Brewer, Jax Banco, Noah Watkins, Joseph DeSiena, and Zac Stanko are the proverbial murderers’ row within the DeLand order. The 5 players all sit in the top-10 of the league in batting average, with Brewer taking the regular season batting crown. When the team gets on base, they always have the green light. Their 68 stolen bases are nearly double of the second closest team in the league.
Those are not the only Hammers making noise, as DeLand has 3 of the best 6 ERA’s in the league - Gunnar Harrison, Caden Reeves, and Ned Presley. Look for them to get the majority of innings. Watch out for Austin Wood as well, the righty has pitched extremely well in his last 2 outings.
The biggest question about this team? Simple - Can this team overcome the Lake Mary hump?
The Monarchs have a season shroud in promise and frustration. After stumbling to a 2-4 start, rainouts plagued them in the middle of the season, causing them to get in a league-low 12 regular season games. That has not hindered them as of late, playing their best baseball of the season over the last 6 games.
The offense has been formidable all season, owning the 3rd best team batting average in the league. Javier Marcial has been the most consistent in the lineup all year, boasting a .400 batting average. Keep an eye on Jordin Casey as well, as he leads the team in OBP at .583. The lineup swings and misses less than any other team in the league, which could be a key factor against postseason pitching.
If the Monarchs hope to make a postseason, their pitching staff will have to pitch to their potential. Their staff ERA of 5.60 puts them in the bottom half of the league. Phillip Goepferich has been their ace, striking out 22 in his 20 innings of work. Watch out for Trent Caples as well - the righty out of Embry-Riddle is coming off his season-best outing on Saturday, going 6 innings and allowing 1.
The Bulldogs enter the postseason riding a 3-game win streak and looking to make some noise in the playoffs. They encountered a rough patch in the middle season going 1-4, a factor in them being the #4 seed.
Winter Park’s offense has been explosive, their 10 home runs being the most in the league. Earning the 4 seed was big for them, as they will try to use power to their advantage in the friendly-confines of Bishop Moore High School in round 1. Mason Wilson is in the running for offensive player of the year, with 3 home runs and a stellar OBP of .526. Sam Putt has been a major contributor as well, hitting .393 with 3 home runs of his own.
The pitching staff has been solid all year with flashes of brilliance. They will need to limit allowing free bases to win in the playoffs, as their 98 walks allowed are the most in the league by a wide margin. They will look to David Richards and Shane Cross to carry the staff. Cross, frontrunner for Division II pitcher of the year, sports a phenomenal 1.52 ERA over 23 innings pitched. Richards is not far behind, with a 2.25 ERA in 24 innings of work. Both have recently been called up to the Seminole County Snappers.
The Warthogs enter the postseason on a season-high 5 game losing streak, and look to turn the page and get back to their winning ways from earlier in the season.
In order to win the title, Winter Garden first needs to work themselves onto the bases more. As a team, their 61 walks are the least in the league, correlating to the lowest on-base percentage in the league as well. Ty Greene will need to stay hot, as the Apopka native owns the third-highest batting average in the league at .487. Nik Mezzanotte will look to stay hot as well, finding himself at the .350 mark in the last 30 days.
It is the opposite problem for the Winter Garden pitching staff, as they need to limit the free bases if they are to make a run. They have a league-high 31 wild pitches, and are near the bottom of the league in walks allowed. Brighton Taylor will surely be a factor in game 1 against the Bulldogs. Not only is he the ace of the staff in 28 innings pitched, but he experienced success against their rival once already this year - going 5 scoreless and getting the win. Clayton Boroski could be an X-factor to watch out for on the bump as well.
The Thunder have had a rather disappointing regular season, and enter the playoffs going 1-8-1 in their last 10 games. However, because of the single-elimination format, they are certainly not a team to overlook.
The bats will need to heat up for the Thunder to get out of round 1 on Wednesday. Their current team batting average of .174 puts them at the bottom of the league. Maury Gonzalez Rodriguez will need to continue doing his part, as he is currently the only player above .300 on the year. Reese Collins will be a big factor as well, as he owns a team-high .435 on-base percentage.
The mound has not been very effective for the Thunder either. The team ERA of 7+ is due in large part to allowing too many walks and errors. Damien Rameau and Juan Hurtado will be who the Thunder turn to get out of round 1. Both lead the team in innings pitched. Watch out for Tommy Ricketts as well - his swing-and-miss ability is potent, striking out 20 in just 12.1 innings.
Best of luck to the teams participating, happy playoffs!