By Madison Hricik

Battle of the Ws will end the first round of this year’s playoffs. No. 2 Woodstock will take on No. 3 Winchester as the final playoff matchup tonight. With both teams having some advantages and strengths, which team will triumph?

Woodstock River Bandits

The River Bandits came out swinging this season and took third in the regular season league standings. It was a battle for the top spot all season long, and Woodstock made a case for it every week.

On offense, Woodstock can come alive at any moment. Leading the team last week was Charles Loust, holding a .471 batting average with eight runs and four RBIs. Aiden Nagle is another threat in the lineup, who led the team throughout the regular season with a .339 batting average, 31 runs, 42 RBIs and seven homers.

On the flip side, Ethan Campos went five innings with 10 strikeouts for a 0.00 ERA to give the River Bandits the protection on defense. Alongside Campos is Jose Varela, who went seven innings with four strikeouts for a 1.29 ERA.

Winchester Royals

Although Winchester didn’t have the dominant season Woodstock had, the Royals have some aces that shouldn’t be ignored. The team had moments that shocked the league, and are ready to do it all again in the playoffs.

Ihosvany Castaneda took charge last week with a .500 batting average, four runs and two RBIs. Nate Furman has shown his talents this season with six runs and five RIBs this week alone. However, the biggest bat this season has been Austin Bulman. The first baseman had an average of .379 with 31 runs, 40 RBIs and seven homers this season.

On the mound, Matthew Williams and Sam Davies both went 5.2 innings with 1.59 ERAs, and eight and 10 strikeouts respectively. Garrett Gainey went four innings this week with four strikeouts for a 0.00 ERA. This is another team that the bullpen can thrive in during a game.

Series Prediction

Both teams bring a lot to the table. Each has specific characteristics that can make them thrive, and these two have gone back and forth this season. The fact that both teams have won against the other recently brings a bit of rivalry to the series, and that can make things even more exciting.

Don’t be surprised if this series goes to three games. Woodstock and Winchester can easily win on their own field, and bring it all to the grand finale of Game 3 for a final showdown. In the end, the Royals will bring in the upset winning 2-1 in Game 3.