This is a tough league to follow at times due to the lack of websites and stats for most teams. I have added links to best places for team information. Here is a preview of the 2016 SWSBL season in order of 2015 standings:
Strathroy Royals (http://strathroyseniorroyals.com/)
The Royals have won back-to-back league titles and look to make it a three-peat in 2016. No news on additions or subtractions from this roster, but the team is definitely a tough opponent. The 2015 pitching staff was led by former Brantford Red Sox lefty Robert Ramsdale and features Tyler Annett and Matt Brennan, who could tear through most Ontario lineups. The offense has been a great one since adding the core players from Lakeside a few years ago and features numerous tough outs, including Ron Oneson, AJ Reed, Kevin Martin, Cam Graham, and Taylor Castrillo.
St. Thomas Tomcats (http://www.stthomastomcats.ca/)
The Tomcats are a former Junior Intercounty team, who made the league switch last season to play with the big boys. They quickly showed that they belong with a 16-3 regular season record. No word on the 2016 roster yet, but due to maintaining a Junior team, they will be losing their graduating players. This team has been a huge feeder for the league over the years, with some of its graduating players becoming big SWBL names, such as Damchuk, Randall, Ramsdale, Mike Gough, Rob Wakefield, and Taylor Castrillo. Last year’s team featured now-Red Army players Matt Smith and Turner Spears.
Sarnia Braves (https://www.facebook.com/SarniaBraves/)
The Braves made the SWBL playoffs interesting in 2015, taking Strathroy to the full 5 games in the final series and handing them their only 3 losses to SWBL opponents. Their pitching staff includes mostly players who also field a position when not on the mound, which could be their biggest downfall come tournament time. Former Independent League pitcher, Mike Damchuk, anchors the pitching staff that includes Nick Baljeu, Wade Babula, and Anthony Shepherd. They have added John Ambrose from Ilderton, which will hopefully provide some relief to the two-way pitchers. The offense is carried by former Independent Leaguer, third baseman Justin Randall, and features a young core of players who should continue to develop into a tough team to beat.
Ilderton Red Army (http://londonbadgers.on.ca/team.php?team_id=663847&league_id=60038)
The Red Army has had a major overhaul from last year, which was much needed because this team has not been able to show the promise it had in its 2nd place finish at the 2010 Eliminations. Manager Rudy Godwin has passed the torch on to Mike Lumley (London Badgers/Western Mustangs) to run the team. The head coach is listed as Brendan Wraith, so it is not clear how much involvement Lumley will have. Ilderton’s roster looks to be greatly improved on previous years with much needed pitching depth added. The staff will still be anchored by former Mustangs standout, Jordan Townshend, but will now feature key additions of Mitch Lumley and Matt Smith. Other additions to the roster include Dave Panchyshyn (OF, Western Mustangs), Tyson Patrick (OF, Fanshawe Falcons), Taylor Patterson (C, Western Mustangs), and Turner Spears (IF, St. Thomas Tomcats). Not returning to the Red Army in 2016 are pitcher John Ambrose and catcher Craig Vannus.
The Bulls aren’t a household name and it is probably for good reason. They haven’t finished over .500 as far back as any of the league’s archive standings go.
London Badgers (http://londonbadgers.on.ca/team.php?team_id=447847&league_id=36154/)
The Badgers are a midget team that competes quite a few years above their age limit. Last season they finished 7-13 in the regular season. The Badgers organization has produced a lot of big names out of the London area over the years and that record shows more of their age than their ability. Since 1994, the Badgers have produced 22 MiLB players, including former major leaguers Adam Stern, Chris Robinson, and Jamie Romak.
Oakridge Reds (https://www.facebook.com/OakridgeRedsBaseballClub/)
The Reds feature a great set of uniforms and their social media game is on-point, but in their inaugural season they finished 7-13.
The Express is a team not well known through Ontario due to not entering the Eliminations tournament, but this team has been a tough competition over the years. The pitching staff features two above average arms in Derek Masse and Chris Gosnell. Both are getting up there in age but still are crafty enough to be tough to hit. They can compete with any team if those two are on the mound. If they are not, then they will almost certainly lose. The offense took a hit, losing Taylor Patterson to Ilderton. Opposing base runners need to beware of strong catcher Bobby Grant, who possesses a great arm and is always looking to catch a baserunner napping.
The Lizards were a competitive team up until 2013. The team still features an ageless former IBL star, Dan Mendham, but since losing Ron Oneson, Kevin Martin, AJ Reed, and Sean Latimer to Strathroy that offseason, they’ve won a total of 4 games.