No two journeys to first place are alike.
With the LV MSBL season roughly two-thirds over, here's a look at how the first-place teams got there.
18 Premier: Alpha Braves (15-2)
The former 18 National Division runners up are now Premier Division frontrunners with a huge assist from new pitcher Colton Langworthy. Langworthy is the league's innings leader at 68.2, strikeouts leader at 67, and has notched a league-leading 10 wins with sub-2.00 ERA. It's hard to point to a single player who has been more valuable anywhere in the LV MSBL. Alpha's nine homeruns led by Eric Drzewiecki's three should not go unnoticed, either.
18 American: Bushkill (9-2)
Combining two teams is often great in theory and difficult in practice but the two Bushkill teams have become one and are pulling it off. Top performers -- like pitchers Nate Fritzinger and Nick Terleski and batters Adam Recker, Brian Kichline, and the Talmadge brothers -- have continued to be top performers. Bushkill is also getting an enormous lift from Tom Crimi, who besides leading Bushkill with a 1.614 OPS also leads the Blue Mountain League in batting. Credit goes to coaches Recker and Kichline for making the merger work.
25 National: Emmaus Athletics (11-2)
Coach Mike Wenner's bunch is the steadiest group of winners in recent MSBL history, enjoying a win streak that reached 24 games from the 2016 season into 2017. The 2016 champions in the 35 Division keep getting younger, moving to 25 Division competition last season and since adding former college players who are not very long out of college. Players like Alvernia College alum Eric Focht and East Stroudsburg University alum Eric Boyer have joined big hitting stalwarts like Wenner and Brad Eck for an age-diverse winning mix.
25 American: Royals (8-2)
The league's stingiest run prevention is carrying the Royals in their first season in the 25 American Division. Command artists Ory Ball and Matt Kiak are pitching in front of a defense that has allowed the fewest runs (31) and runs per game (3.1) in all of LV MSBL. The lineup is deep with 11 players batting .300 or better. The Cyclones are on the Royals' heels with their own 1-2 punch of all-star pitchers in Mike Pastor and Ricky Siegmund.
43 National: Hurricanes (9-1)
The Hurricanes don't act their age. Manager Steve Smull's crew is 5-0 against the the 25 American Division, plus 4-1 in their own division. Hall of Famer Eddy Boyce, hitting machine Chris Beaver, and ace pitcher Mike Drago are just a few of the Hurricanes who have the type baseball smarts and talent that work against any competition. Especially when led by a manager in Smull who won an LV MSBL record seven consecutive titles. There's not a single weak spot on the team.
55 American: Moon Dogs (11-0-1)
The LV MSBL has perhaps never witnessed a more circuitous route to first place. The Moon Dogs spent more than 10 years away from the LV MSBL and returned this season to thus far undefeated results. Pitchers Scott Pennypacker and Gene Vincent have chewed up a combined 87 innings with 89 strikeouts, and twelve hitters are batting .400 or better. After more than a decade away, the result is per-game run differential of 6.8, tops in the league, plus the league's only undefeated record.