The Heat could end up with a first-week bye, depending on how the rest of the regular season shakes down.
**UPDATE** The biggest night of the season for the Heat has arrived. A last minute schedule change has made tonight’s match-up against El Dorado a double-header, winner-take-all for second place in the Jayhawk Baseball League. Wellington just needs to win one of the games to lock up a first-week by in the National Baseball Congress World Series, and shorten the road to a world title.**
The first game starts at 5 p.m., the second starts at 7 p.m. Free tickets can be picked up at GKN Aerospace located at 429 N. West Road
The road to a world championship could be short for the Wellington Heat, but there's still a chance for a detour.
With the re-formatting of the National Baseball Congress World Series taking affect this year, the top three Jayhawk Baseball League teams would get in the tournament automatically. Originally, just the first place JBL team would get a first-week bye, straight into "Championship Week." The second and third place team would have to battle through the first week of the NBC World Series just to earn a spot in Championship Week.
"That changed," said Heat Owner, Rick Twyman. "One and two are right into the second bracket…that's where you want to be. Otherwise you play 10 or 12 games." By skipping the opening week, a team would only have to play four or five games to potentially win a world title.
At the top of the JBL, the standings are tight. Wellington currently holds a game-and-a-half lead over El Dorado for the important second spot. Guess who will be at Hibbs-Hooten Field tonight (July 24)? The El Dorado Broncos; game time is at 7:05 p.m., free tickets can be picked up at GKN Aerospace located at 429 N. West Road. Hays, in first place, has all but solidified the league title at this point. Wellington travels to Derby on July 25 for their last JBL game of the season before the NBC World Series. It's going to be an action-packed finish in the JBL.
As of Tuesday, July 23, the Heat's last scheduled home game is against Valley Center this coming Friday. That could also change.
Should Wellington end up with the first-round bye in the NBC, the organization will attempt to schedule more home games against teams that are in the same situation – teams they will likely face in the World Series.
Look for squads to come to Hibbs-Hooten from Santa Barbra, Calif, and Seattle, Was. For the lastest schedule changes, follow the Heat on Facebook.com, Twitter, and wellingtonheat.com.
Expect the Heat to use three of their five roster additions heading into the NBC tournament. They will likely bring in a couple of pitchers and a designated hitter.
Wellington is coming off of a three-game road trip in Dodge City, the A's were swept by the Heat. The three wins improved Wellington's record to 28-12 overall, and 19-12 in JBL play. The Heat have won 15 of their last 18 contests.
The turnaround happened in late June after the team struggled with consistency. Coaches and owners challenged the players, telling them if this group couldn't get it done, they'd find one that could. It appears the team received the message and is primed for a big, post-season run.
However the JBL teams stack up in the NBC World Series, Twyman is sure they will give the rest of the field a challenge.
"There's no bad teams in the Jayhawk League," he said. "They can play, every game is a battle." The rigorous JBL schedule will benefit the teams heading into Wichita in the coming weeks.
"The Jayhawk has an advantage…all the yards are small," Twyman elaborated. "You get to Lawrence Dumont, those balls aren't leaving." Solid pitching is a must when it comes to advancing in the NBC World Series, and in the JBL.
"If you're pitching gets you through a season here, they're going to do real well there," Twyman said.