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2022 CT Wiffs Review: Top 15 Teams

In a year that saw a record number of teams compete, completing the CT Wiffs Review search for the "best" backyard team was not an easy one. That statement, in of itself, is a good thing. There was so much talent and classic performances throughout the State this year that confining the list to only 15 teams felt sinful at times. Despite the restrictions of the rankings, I feel like the teams listed below are a great representation of the best that mustered their way through the 2022 season. With many of new teams taking to the rankings for the first time, this list is ought to drive some interesting conversations. But I will leave that to the masses, now ONWARD with the show!

Before going through with the ranking results, there a few guidelines that everyone should be aware of with regards to the selection of teams. (P.S.: If your "deserving" team did not make the list, it may be that it did not meet one of these guidelines.)

* Teams were selected from known backyard leagues that host games in the State of Connecticut. Active leagues were verified in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to: active social media accounts with post(s)/content pertaining to the 2022 season, active website with updated game scores, standings, statistics, and or article(s); release of season results and/or statistics to the Connecticut Wiffle®Ball League in the event that such results are not publicly available

* All information pulled for these lists were current and accurate per each league's statistics data as of September 1st, 2022

* Data used for these rankings may not be complete, as some leagues included in this list have not made any announcement regarding the completion of their season

* Teams from the Connecticut Wiffle®Ball League are NOT included in these rankings; these rankings are to highlight the best teams from the "backyard" leagues that played in 2022

* Teams are based on, but are not limited to, the following: win-loss record, standings finish, runs for (RF)/runs against (RA), notable win/loss streaks during the season, notable impact player(s), postseason results

With ALL of that out of the way, here are the CT Wiffs Recap Top 15 Teams of 2022!

Number 15: Oppo Tacos

2021 Ranking: Not Ranked

League: Stamford Wiffleball League (SWBL) - Stamford

Team Captain: N/A

Standings Finish: 1st Overall

Record: 17-7 (Regular Season)

Team Accolades: SWBL Spring Championship Series Appearance

Notable Player(s): Andrew Leonard

In the Stamford Wiffleball League, no team was as consistently dominant throughout the 2022 season than the Oppo Tacos. Powered by the phenomenal pitching performances of Andrew Leonard and company, the team finished with the league's best regular season record with 17 wins. En-route to their regular season championship, the Tacos were among one the better run-preventing teams in the entire State of Connecticut: the team only allowed 68 runs (2.83/game), more than double what the next-best team allowed (the second-placed Knuckleballers with 141 runs, 5.87/game).

The team's strong performances were consistent all season, with their winning ways carrying them swiftly through the postseason and into the SWBL Spring Championship Series. While falling to the Knuckleballers for the league title, the team's strong creditability of talent and gap to their competition made them more of an appropriate choice to be included into the Top 15 team rankings for 2022.

Number 14: Coast Guard

2021 Ranking: Not Ranked

League: Wiff Or Be Wiffed (WOBW) - New Caanan

Team Captain: Matthew Balkun

Record: 10-2 (Regular Season)

Team Accolades: WOBW Championship Series Apperance

Notable Player(s): Matthew Balkun

Reigning champions of the Wiff Or Be Wiffed League, the Coast Guard entered the 2022 season as one of the most solid teams in all of Connecticut backyard Wiffle®Ball. Despite expecting to miss one of their key players - Ian Nicholas - the WOBW had no double-guesses towards placing them at the top of the preseason power rankings as a favorite to repeat.

While missing out on the Top 25 Players due to a lack of available statistics, team captain Matthew Balkun had himself a second-straight strong season to lead the team's success from the flat hill. Balkun's strong efforts helped lead a balanced cast to a 10-2 regular season record and a top seed in the postseason. Getting Nicholas back to the team got the rest of the team to jell together, and very few thought that this group was beatable.

But were they able to take it home in the end? Unfortunate for them, 2022 would not be their year. The Guard lost a heavily-favored matchup to the Boy Scouts in the WOBW Championship Series, failing to put a bow on their red-hot season. Without a championship win and the ability to finish the season on a high note - let alone more detailed metrics to break down the team's performance throughout the season - I cannot put the team any higher in the rankings. Even without a repeat title in their hands, Balkun's ability to bring the team to a strong performance on the season as a whole deserves a good place in this year's rankings.

Number 13: Silver Stallions

2021 Ranking: Not Ranked

League: Darien Wiffle Ball League (DWBL) - Darien

Team Captain: Will Monohan

Standings Finish: 2nd American League, 3rd Overall

Record: 10-2 (Regular Season)*

Team Accolades: N/A

Notable Player(s): Will Monohan, Nick Burns

* = Regular Season Only, Postseason Cancelled

As a first year team, the Silver Stallions were centered around plenty of criticism from Darien Wiffle Ball League veterans. Being a team of mostly non-Darien natives, the Silver Stallions were one of four teams in the league to receive a midseason expansion entry for the 2022 season. That alone provided me some initial suspicion. But as the games and season progressed, the team proved to be arguably the best of the expansion teams in the State this year.

With tough competition in their division - that being the 3-time defending champion and 2021 CT Team of the Year Western Warriors - the Will Monohan-led Stallions got out of the gates extremely well, winning each of their first nine games of the season. The team had a solid offensive core, with several games of five or more runs scored and multiple players on the team hitting at or above average. The team was limited in the quantity of pitching options, but Nick Burns provided solid innings to help the team to six shutouts across the regular season.

Unable to test themselves against the league's elite due to their list of opponents - and the lack of a postseason for the DWBL - the Stallions made the best of the opportunity that they were given. Given they were able to rank highly in a league littered with solid competition in its midfield, the Stallions made a solid case to be featured in the rankings. Should the team return to action in 2023, it will be interesting on how they are able to build on the successes they had in year one.

Number 12: ShacTown Wiffle Ball

2021 Ranking: 12 (➖)

League: Darien Wiffle Ball League (DWBL) - Darien

Team Captain: Simeon Doll

Standings Finish: 2nd National League, 4th Overall

Record: 10-4 (Regular Season)*

Team Accolades: N/A

Notable Player(s): Simeon Doll, Luke O'Connell

* = Regular Season Only, Postseason Cancelled

Coming off of a positive start to the team's history in 2021, ShacTown came into the 2022 season with extremely high expectations. Ever since team captain Simeon Doll uttered the words "we will be back" following their National League Championship Series loss to the eventual-champion Western Warriors, the team's front office got hard at work to prepare a roster that was not at the level of the Darien Wiffle Ball League's elite. The team was fired up from the moment they signed DWBL veteran Jack Cunningham to the roster, leading several players to devote significant practice time in the offseason. If this team was crazy in 2021, it was only looking to get even CRAZIER in 2022.

Out of the gate in early March, ShacTown's chemistry and overall play looked refined from every part of the roster. In areas where the team struggled to excel the year before - particularly with the lack of a true "ace" pitcher and a lack of hitting depth - such issues seemed to progress several steps forward. Smaller role players such as Dylan Alini and Jeff Nduati were much bigger factors at the plate, contributing to more hits and times on-base. The team's regulars in team captain Doll and Luke O'Connell appeared MILES better on the flat hill, with each of them pitching with more variety and control than at any point in 2021. With a team able to find more ways to score runs and keep their opponents from doing likewise, ShacTown's 2022 efforts were a noticeable and solid improvement that kept them in DWBL title contention all season long.

For all the good that was shared about this team's development, there were still some "tough pills" to swallow this season. When it came to playing their fellow elite competition, ShacTown's ability to win games was noticeably affected. Against teams not in the top four places of the final DWBL regular season standings, the team was a perfect 8-0. Against teams inside the top four (Western Warriors, Coastal Cyclones, and the Silver Stallions): 2-4, with three of those losses coming by one or two runs. Compared to last year, games and series against these higher opponents were much more competitive than the previous year. But they still lacked the bottom-line of beating these teams more often, something that the Warriors and Cyclones did a better job of throughout the season (and hence - as you will see soon - why they are higher up in the rankings). Without the ability to compete in the postseason and ratify these early struggles with a long resume of big victories, moving this team ahead of the teams ahead of them is not something the CT Wiffs Review can do this year. A cruel twist it is for a team I personally really pushed to place higher in the rankings: their Number 12 ranking really feels like three steps forward in theory for none in reality. Perhaps better fortunes in 2023 will finally ascend this team into the high potential I sought in them when they first started. For my own sake, I sure hope it comes true.

Number 11: Calf Pasture Penguins

2021 Ranking: Not Ranked

League: Norwalk Family Wiffleball League (NFWL) - Norwalk

Team Captain: Dylan Izzi

Standings Finish: 1st National Conference, 1st Overall

Record: 17-8 (15-5 Regular Season)

Team Accolades: NFWL National Conference Regular Season Champions

Notable Player(s): Dylan Izzi, Brian Weiss

The Calf Pasture Penguins entered the 2022 season as a strong contender, coming off of a Norwalk Family Wiffleball League title the previous season. With NFWL longtimer Dylan Izzi (AKA: "Dizzi Izzi") bringing Brain Weiss aboard - one of the NFWL's better players - the team looked to have a duo that would put them above their competition. From the get-go, this potent duo proved to be the killer formula that made them one of the most respected teams in the NFWL. The Penguins led the National Conference from the season's start in mid-April and never looked back, constantly at the top of both the standings and the periodic league power rankings.

At season's end, the successes spoke for themselves: 15 wins, a conference regular season title, and a bye to the National Conference Championship Series. All they had to do was win a few more games, and all glory would be theirs again. But when the sun's rays shined their brightest again, the magic of 2021 did not come through. The team was ousted by a red-hot SoNo Scorpions side in five games, putting an end on the dream of potential repeat title. Without the ability to bring home the big results at the end of the season - let alone reach a league championship series - ranking this team in the top 10 is a bit of a large ask. In spite of the postseason heartbreak, this team achieved a fantastic result from the season as a whole, well-warranting their inclusion with this year's Top 15 teams.

Number 10: Boy Scouts

2021 Ranking: Not Ranked

League: Wiff Or Be Wiffed (WOBW) - New Caanan

Team Captain: N/A

Record: 4-6 (Regular Season)

Team Accolades: WOBW Champions

Notable Player(s): Will Bozzella

Before I even begin to explain why the Boy Scouts made this year's list - let me just affirm your assumptions of this list. YES, I did put two Wiff Or Be Wiffed teams on this list. Two teams from a league that has no competitive creditability on the State level and a league that most people do not know about to begin with. The first team - the Coast Guard - were a perennial powerhouse that were much easier to justify on the list. But the Boy Scouts AHEAD of them, in the TOP 10? Perhaps I inundated myself with too many smelling salts before building these rankings, but perhaps the team actually had a very under-the-radar season compared to most.

Going into the 2022 season, the Scouts were far from most WOBW insiders' discussions for title contention. They had began the franchise a year prior by losing each of their first six contests, picking up some wins before being eliminated quickly in the league semifinals by the aforementioned Coast Guard. The team retained much of the roster that began the franchise in "year one", but none of the players were acclaimed by the league to be gamechangers to take the team to championship heights. But then, came along a little-known player named Will Bozzella. Beginning to appear often in games around midseason, Bozzella was the driving force for the Scouts, driving the team from near the bottom of the standings to just shy of a .500 regular season finish. Will was most fantastic in his pitching role, totaling a 1.43 ERA/3 in his limited role with the team. With Will's added production to the lineup, Will Cosco and Sam Ives began to swing hot bats at the right times. At three strong pieces of a team working together, the Scouts transformed themselves from midfield "somebody" to a threatening Darkhorse contender for the WOBW title.

Then, it was time for the playoffs. With no member of the team missing time like before, the Scouts powered through their opponents and advanced all the way to the WOBW Championship Series for the first time in team history. In their way of glory was an old foe: the Coast Guard. The same team that ended their season in heartbreak a year ago. Not to be denied this time, the Scouts battled against the odds and played arguably their best ball of the summer. Heroic performances from Will Cosco powered the team on to win the WOBW title, becoming the first sub-500 team to achieve the milestone.

While not perfect, this team was the perfect embodiment of "it ain't over 'till it's over". When everyone counted them down, they got to work to prove to everyone just how good they could be. For how well the team finished at the end of the season, the Boy Scouts pushed themselves to be deserving of the Number Ten position in the rankings. It may not be as easy to impress next year knowing what this team has now accomplished, but the achievements they have made are ones that CT Backyard Wiffs should not leave unnoticed.

Number 9: Shady Beach Sharks

2021 Ranking: Not Ranked

League: Norwalk Family Wiffleball League (NFWL) - Norwalk

Team Captain: N/A

Standings Finish: 1st American Conference, 2nd Overall

Record: 18-10 (14-6 Regular Season)

Team Accolades: NFWL American Conference Regular Season Champions, NFWL American Conference Champions, NFWL Championship Series Appearance

Notable Player(s): Kostaki Kodonas, Taso Panagiotidis

Up until their eventual defeat in the Norwalk Family Wiffleball League World Series, the Shady Beach Sharks had themselves a terrific season on all accounts. Backed by the strong pair of Taso Panagiotidis and Kostaki Kodonas, the team was - and remained - number one in the NFWL throughout the entire regular season.

Anchoring the team's success was their incredible offense. With the ability to hit the long-ball at any time, the clutchness shared by Taso and Kostaki helped the team to several key wins with walk-off situations. The Sharks won the game with one of these two bats so many times - including once by each of them in their series against the Silvermine Swans on June 4th - that the twins were unquestionably the most clutch duo in the entire State in 2022. Kodonas was by no means a one-way player this season: he served as the team's two-way anchor, getting help from teammate Matt Turner to provide a venerable 1-2 pitching combo that ranked among the league's very best.

When all was said and done, great and timely performances from the All-Star captain and his crew were rewarded with 14 regular season wins and an American Conference regular season title, a top seed that helped them easily progress to the NFWL's title-deciding series. Had they played any other team in the NFWL, chances are the Sharks would have closed the book on a dream season by walking away with the title. Instead, reality saw the team fall two wins short of their prized accomplishment. With the magical season had by their opponents - given it was them that came away with the championship - it was not feasible for me to not acknowledge the Scorpions' season lower than the Sharks. As I will discuss soon, that turnaround by the end of the season was too sensational not to rank highly on this year's rankings.

With two of the team's players signing for the bigger and better league on the south side of Norwalk - the only reported players to be making the switch - the talent and performance on this Sharks roster was unquestionably worthy of being in consideration for the rankings from the start. While 2023 may provide even more exciting times, the overall team's excellence and execution deems them worthy of their inclusion in 2022.

Number 8: Big Baller Bombers

2021 Ranking: Not Ranked

League: Griswold Wiffleball League (GWL) - Griswold

Team Captain: Andrew Hardin

Standings Finish: 2nd Overall

Record: 14-6 (12-6 Regular Season)

Team Accolades: GWL Championship Series Appearance

Notable Player(s): Andrew Hardin

A surprise turnaround of the season, the Big Baller Bombers' 1-5 record to start the season would not suggest that they were material to be a part of the rankings in 2022. While being one of the Griswold Wiffleball League's more notable players, team captain Andrew Hardin was not having an easy time at limiting run damage, leading to him losing four of his first five starts. To make matters worse, they surrendered seven or more runs in three of those first six games. While largely able to match their opponents offensively, the inability to pitch effectively plagued the team from being an early competitive threat.

But somewhere between their series on June 29th and July 6th, Hardin and his team were able to fix the defensive issues. They fixed them so well that their 1-5 start turned SHARPLY to a game away from the regular season title. The Bombers went on an absolute TEAR through the end of the regular season, winning 11 of their final 12 regular season games and going on an 8-game winning streak that lasted among the State's longest. Captain Hardin - who struggled pitching to start the season - cut his WHIP in half to under 2.40 and finished the season second in the league in strikeouts (77). Not surrendering a single run in his last four starts, Hardin's transformation as a pitcher transformed his team into a legitimate threat for the GWL title. Partnering himself was a staple of the team all season: Bryce Morrissette. The 2022 GWL MVP had himself a terrific season at the plate, very nearly winning a Triple Crown honor after leading the league in batting average (AVG, .559) and runs batted in (RBI, 37). With these two on top of their game, the Bombers run to near untouchableness seems statistically legitimate.

While it is unknown if the team was able to finish their late-season run after reaching the GWL Championship Series, their "180" season was something to behold. If the team was confirmed to have won the championship, an even higher finish in the rankings would have been extremely possible. Regardless, the Bombers in their end-of-season form proved to have one of the hottest runs of the season, and a very deserving position with the Top 10 of this year's list.

Number 7: SoNo Scorpions

2021 Ranking: Not Ranked

League: Norwalk Family Wiffleball League (NFWL) - Norwalk

Team Captain: N/A

Standings Finish: 2nd National Conference, 4th Overall

Record: 21-11 (13-7 Regular Season)

Team Accolades: NFWL National Conference Champions, NFWL Champions

Notable Player(s): Aidan Brehem, Chase DePalma

As I mentioned with the overview of the Big Ballers Bombers at the previous spot, the only way a turnaround season could get better was with a league title. Fortunately for the SoNo Scorpions of the Norwalk Family Wiffleball League, that glorious destination was able to be reached in 2022.

Much like the Bombers before, the 2022 regular season was not the strong point of this team. Ranking in the bottom half of the power rankings around midseason, the Scorpions were a team that were sandwiched in a National Conference that held a very tight playoff race. For much of the regular season - especially after the team started the season losing three of their first four games - there was not a clear indication that the Scorpions were a lock to make it to the postseason. That was, until they made a fantastic recovery streak of their own. From their 1-3 start the Scorpions won EIGHT games in a row to catapult themselves to a 9-3 record by the end of June, taking a strong command over second place in the National Conference. The Scorpions would retain this position heading into the postseason, finishing one game behind the near uncatchable Calf Pasture Penguins.

Once the regular season was in the past, however, the Scorpions truly came alive. Having to play in all three rounds of the NFWL postseason, the Scorpions won every series against some of the league's best competition. Along this run Aidan Brehem was a force to be reckoned with, highlighting his season with several key moments that powered his team to victory. Fan of offense? Well feast your eyes on a three-home-run performance in the National Conference Championship Series against the Penguins. Fan of defense? Well look no further than the young man behind this year's Play of the Year - The Kick Mary - against the West Norwalk Whales in the Division Series a round prior.

When it mattered most, Brehem could do it all. And with one of the hottest players in the State at your disposal, the rest of the team fed right on that energy. Chase DePalma was a reoccurring figure for the team's pitching from the moment he joined the team midseason, but at no time was he better than in the postseason. John Welch was poised with the bat, hitting a set of three home runs of his own in the NFWL World Series. Will Butler and Colin Falla were full of energy and contributions throughout the run. When added altogether, the Scorpions were one of the most electric and fun groups to watch along their 2022 journey. When you have a group that is both feeling good and playing good, that combination is hard for any opposition.

When faced against the NFWL's best, the Scorpions let everyone know in Norwalk who the best Wiffle®Ball team is. While several members of the team will be lost in the offseason re-draft, this team will be remembered as one of Connecticut's backyard best in 2022.

Number 6: Asgardians

2021 Ranking: 3 (🔽3)

League: SoNo Wiffle Ball League (SNWL) - Norwalk

Team Captain: Brian Ehlers

Standings Finish: 2nd Metro League, T-2nd Overall

Record: 25-12 (21-9 Regular Season)

Team Accolades: N/A

Notable Player(s): Joe Druin, Brian Elhers

After bringing home the SoNo Wiffle Ball League title in 2021 against all odds, the Nighthawks felt that taking the franchise to the next level would require a change in identity. Changing their name to the Asgardians and signing Stephen Arduino after a one-year hiatus, team captain Jeff Cocchia thought that these changes would be sufficient to power his solid core to go back-to-back in 2022.

When it came to the regular season, the Asgardians were an elite team in all aspects. Team ace Joe Druin was clinical as ever with his pitching, challenging league stalwart Artie Cocchia in the Cy Young race all season long. With the ability to shut down teams with their arms, teams that could not match their pitching prowess - either Joe's or that of secondary option Brian Ehlers - were left to lie dead and wait for the series to reach its inevitable conclusion. With a solid pitching tandem, the Asgardians decided to roll out a four-man hitting lineup that also was among the State's very best. Arduino was at or near best-in-class in several league offensive categories, leading the way for the slugging ability of Druin and the versatile assets of teammates Brian Ehlers and Jeff Cocchia. Winning more than two-thirds of their games and nearly outscoring their opponents 2:1, the Asgardians ability to show out in front of the Connecticut Backyard Wiffle® Showcase made them a team to follow throughout the season, and one that met the exposure with a great run of fortune.

As good as the team was at its best, however, that does not mean they often came out on the right side of the win column when it mattered most. Like some other lower teams on these rankings, the Asgardians did not frequently win games against the SNWL's elite competition. Of their nine losses during the 2022 regular season, six of them came to the teams that would go on to reach the SNWL World Series: the Demons and the Puff Peppers. What particularly hurts about these results is that three of these losses came by one run, and four of them were to the team that would beat them for the Metro League regular season and postseason titles: the Puff Peppers. Unlucky? Absolutely. With many of these losses coming in low-scoring games, some of these results could have turned the other way if it were not for "one bad pitch" or "one missed swing" at the wrong time. That thinness in margins, combined with the ability to be in just about every single game they played - against formidable competition, no less - makes the downfalls of the 2022 Asgardians more excusable than with other elite teams. When they lost, they only did so to two of the top teams in the entire State, let alone in their league.

In spite of their shortcomings, the team did quite well for a group that only lost out on their league regular season title on tiebreakers. The team had three players - Arduino, Druin, and Ehlers - be selected to the All-SNWL select teams, saw Arduino win both league Gold Glove honors and the Metro League's Silver Slugger award, and finished one win away from going to a second-consecutive SNWL World Series. The Asgardians did not reach its ultimate goal, but they did have one solid year to motivate themselves for 2023 and beyond.

Number 5: Boston Ball Busters

2021 Ranking: Not Ranked

League: Griswold Wiffleball League (GWL) - Griswold

Team Captain: Andrew Hardin

Standings Finish: 2nd

Record: 15-5 (13-5 Regular Season)

Team Accolades: GWL Championship Series Appearance

Notable Player(s): Ashton Goodwin, Sam Gilgenbach

Tried and tested against everyone in the Griswold Wiffleball League, no team performed as consistently as the Boston Ball Busters. The team headed by GWL Captain of the Year Andrew Hardin had a season to remember in 2022, winning the regular season title with 13 wins in 18 games.

The team's massive and persistent success came with options from across the roster. The team's crown jewel was Ashton Goodwin, who was arguably the league's best player. Ashton finished in the top 5 in nearly every major statistical category, with several individual performances that landed him several Player of the Game honors. With a player capable of winning the GWL Cy Young award and throwing several no-hitters in a season, the Ball Busters were not a team susceptible to allowing their opponents to score runs in bunches. Goodwin's efforts were protected well with a slew of players that provided plenty of offensive support. Kayden Deskus, Micah Hamel, and Sam Gilgenbach all had their individual games of brilliance, each making an impact that made the team's success more a team effort than a single individual.

Much like their title-rival Bombers, the lack of a completed postseason prevented this team from getting a proper ending to grade their season. Having reached the league's Championship Series relatively unscathed, the Ball Busters ability to dismiss the competition made them a serious contender for being one of the best backyard teams in Connecticut. The team's complete effort makes them a prideful representation of the Griswold Wiffleball League as the league looks to build creditability statewide next summer and beyond.

Number 4: Western Warriors

2021 Ranking: 1 (🔽3)

League: Darien Wiffle Ball League (DWBL) - Darien

Team Captain: Henry Imbrogno and Gordon Washburn

Standings Finish: 1st American League, 2nd Overall

Record: 11-2 (Regular Season)*

Team Accolades: DWBL American League Regular Season Champions

Notable Player(s): Henry Imbrogno, Gordon Washburn

* = Regular Season Only, Postseason Cancelled

The reigning Connecticut Team of the Year had itself another incredible year to add to the franchise's long-standing winning tradition. Hindered somewhat by the lack of a postseason hunt, the Western Warriors were as good - if not better - in 2022 compared to 2021.

Facing more competition and talent than ever before, with more title-contending teams than ever before; co-captains Gordon Washburn and Henry Imbrogno did their part to retain the team that had won them all three Darien Wiffle Ball League titles thus far. Having lost longtime team member Cooper Puff to the 714 Wifflers, Opening Day onward showed that the loss of the team's secondary pitcher proved to have little effect on the team's production. Imbrogno and Washburn split the role as the team's main arm, both of them pitching on-pace to historic career seasons as a top-2 pitching duo in the DWBL. As with many teams near the top of the rankings, a top-notch defense was complimented with a top-notch defense. Washburn was electric in this department as well, leading the charge alongside Teddy Callery: a player who continues to be a great under-the-radar threat in backyard Wiffle®Ball.

As a team, there are really no complaints or glaring issues with the Warriors. In 2022, there were just three more teams that impressed on-paper a LITTLE bit more than this team. Apart from that and the lack of silverware won - excluding the National League regular season title - the Western Warriors remain one of the State's best backyard teams.

Number 3: Demons

2021 Ranking: 7 (🔼4)

League: SoNo Wiffle Ball League (SNWL) - Norwalk

Team Captain: Artie Cocchia

Standings Finish: 1st Valley League, 1st Overall

Record: 33-7 (27-3 Regular Season)

Team Accolades: SNWL Valley League Regular Season Champions, SNWL Valley League Champions, SNWL World Series Appearance

Notable Player(s): Artie Cocchia

It was EXTREMELY tempting to place the Demons as the Number One team in the State in 2022. I nearly changed it right before publishing this ranking, but I held to my gut and my original decision. Here is that decision, more-or-less...

For much of the year, the Demons were my consensus top selection for these rankings. Their 27 of a possible 30 wins in the SoNo Wiffle Ball League regular season were a State best that no team could contest. They had a series win against all seven other SNWL teams, sweeping most of them at least once. While the team had a strong list of players, no player contributed to the team's success more than the 2022 CT Player of the Year: Artie Cocchia. Artie's performances from the mound was the stuff of legend, locking teams down with shutout after shutout, game after game. Artie single-handedly put the team's ability to win on his back, and time-and-time again stepped up to the occasion to give his very best for the team. Given some help hitting from Max Pompini, this team quickly emerged from good to great, and from great to special.

The Demons' special run carried into the postseason, where their Valley League regular season title got them a bye to the League Championship Series round. They decimated the Benchwarmers three games to none in that round, and progressed through the Puff Peppers in the SNWL World Series to be within ONE GAME of winning it all. ONE GAME. Then, whether it be the Drake curse or the aura of the 2016 Golden State Warriors, the team fell flat on its face. The Demons lost three games in a row while up 3-1 in the series to fall just short of a milestone ending. Had they just won ONE MORE GAME, their status as an all-time backyard Wiffle®Ball team in this State would have been cemented without question. But even without that ONE MORE GAME, their ability to go near unbeaten on the entire season until the very end is a mark that no other team could lay a single hand on. The play of this group - motivated by a near-Godly display by its team captain - captivated me as a viewer all season long, and this team deserves to be remembered as one of the best teams of the last calendar year. So close though, so close to G.O.A.T. status.

Number 2: Coastal Cyclones

2021 Ranking: Not Ranked

League: Darien Wiffle Ball League (DWBL) - Darien

Team Captain: Braden Schenck

Standings Finish: 1st National League, 1st Overall

Record: 13-1 (Regular Season)

Team Accolades: DWBL National League Regular Season Champions

Notable Player(s): Sam Donnelly, Austin Kipphut

* = Regular Season Only, Postseason Cancelled

If - after their swift departure from the National League Division Series in late July 2021 - a passerby told me that the Coastal Cyclones would be a frontrunning team again in the Darien Wiffle Ball League, I would have had quite a laugh about it. "What B.S. is this person on?" I would have thought to myself. Well, a more than a year on from that moment, I am starting to believe that such a statement would be logically possible to make only if time travel was possible. As of the end of 2022, the Coastal Cyclones franchise has LITERALLY become a frontrunning team in the Darien Wiffle Ball League. The reason for the success? 3 people: Braden Schenck, Sam Donnelly, and Austin Kipphut.

The first of these teammates - Schenck - was the team captain at the time of their exit in 2021. Wanting to provide a more competitive option to his team, the DWBL commissioner seized the opportunity to bring in the two biggest names in the league's offseason. Those two players: Sam Donnelly and Austin Kipphut. Without these players, the Coastal Cyclones do not even come CLOSE to achieving the heights they did in 2022.

The second of these teammates - Donnelly - entered the team with the most buzz of the offseason outside of Jack Cunningham with previously-mentioned ShacTown. Having carried the now-defunct Eastern Elephants to the DWBL World Series in 2020 and the DWBL ALCS in 2021, Donnelly was the centerpiece of the team's retooling process. No longer being a team captain, could he perform well in his new role as a player only? Could he still be the ace, Cy-Young-caliber pitcher that he has been throughout the league's history? Could he still hit at the clips he had before? To all three of those questions, the answer was a resounding YES and then some. Reunited with his brother Will, the State's Number Three player was as dominant as he was before, improving his game to new levels that no one saw possible.

The third of these teammates - Kipphut - was more of an oddball candidate and a risk for the team to invest into. If he could perform at his best consistently, Austin's talent could put the Cyclones over the top with a potential pair of superstar players. Putting in incredible work to doubt his critics, Austin had his best season in two years, producing numbers to justifiably classify himself as an elite hitter and a trustworthy number-two arm. Given his tendencies in the past, I did not think that this transformation was possible. But having seen his high-octane competitive attitude at the Connecticut Backyard Wiffle® Showcase, it quickly made sense why this team was right in bringing him aboard.

Nearly finishing the season unbeaten, the Cyclones' additions added to a team that desperately needed an improvement. They gelled and thrived well as a group, making this team awesome to watch the way that it did. In a highly-competitive league like the DWBL, a turnaround like this seemed impossible. But at their lowest, the Cyclones rose to the occasion and earned their place as a group of wifflers you do not want to mess around with. That is, unless that team is the only one above them on the rankings...

Number 1: Peruvian Puff Peppers

2021 Ranking: 10 (🔼9)

League: SoNo Wiffle Ball League (SNWL) - Norwalk

Team Captain: Ryan Trani

Standings Finish: 1st Metro League, 2nd Overall

Record: 28-14 (21-9 Regular Season)

Team Accolades: SNWL Metro League Regular Season Champions, SNWL Metro League Champions, SNWL Champions

Notable Player(s): Ben Boccanfuso, Ryan Trani

The Peruvian Puff Peppers in 2022 were a team that - time and time again - reminded me of stories of the 2005 NBA-Champion Detroit Pistons. Much like the Billy Hamilton Pistons of those days, the Puff Peppers lacked a truly-established superstar to make them instant contenders. They had no Cocchia, Druin, Walker, Forcellina, or other greats of the SoNo Wiffle Ball League. Instead, the team directed by captain Ryan Trani sought to gain an advantage by getting equal contributions from all of its players.

Throughout the season, each of the team's three players played a pivotal role in the team's success. The first piece - captain Trani (and forgive me for not being able to pronounce your last name during the SNWL All-Star Game, if you are reading this Ryan) - was as solid a contributor as they come. Batting above .300 and serving as a solid secondary pitcher, the SNWL veteran led the team with a relaxed energy that invited his teammates to come each gameday and play their game, undeterred by other distractions. Trani's calm demeaner set the tone for a team that just went out their and balled out, each and every time. His former teammate, Jeb Broyer, was another great offensive option in the lineup. Known for his ability to rattle his opponents, the former SNWL Trash Talk Award winner was excellent at getting on base and provided excellent defense when the team needed him to make a play. Not asked to do much heavy lifting, Broyer played his role to a tee. These two players' consistency set the stage for the "piece du resistance" of the Puff Peppers: Ben Boccanfuso. The rookie sensation heard throughout the SNWL, Ben spent the season promoting himself as a top hitter and ace pitcher no one wanted to deal with. Pitching to a sub-2 ERA/3, Ben's ability to throw effective innings gave his teammates - and himself - the time and opportunity necessary to wear down their opponents time and time again. They were not flashy these three, but they were potent as any team out there. That much showed in their nail-biting finish to win the Metro League title with 21 wins at the end of the regular season.

These incredibly-balanced tactics, which went through their share of growing pains on occasion throughout the season, were enough to keep them running with the top teams in the league up until the very end. It was at the end of the season where - when tested against the very best - the versatility and depth of the team really stood out. Fitted against the defending-champion Asgardians and the former-champion Demons, the Puff Peppers looked like a team that was going to stop at nothing but bring home the title. They grunted through their league-rival Asgardians in a classic five-game series, and then marched back from 3-1 down against the Demons to win the SNWL World Series. An incredible showing all season long, the Puff Peppers proved to wifflers everywhere the importance of not only talent, but chemistry. Looking back at 2022, people will want to - as captain Ryan Train put it best - "remember the name, remember the name". Their names and accomplishments will be remembered forever on - at least in my book - as the best backyard Wiffle®Ball team in Connecticut for 2022.


And with that, there you have it: the complete team rankings of Connecticut backyard wiffs for 2022. It was not one easy to decide, but it was one filled with many interesting stories, all of them with plenty of potential to grow and develop in the 2023 season and beyond. Congratulations to all teams and leagues for a successful 2022 season, I cannot wait to see what new things you will bring to the table in the near future!


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