The Warwick Vets Middle School softball team wrapped up the state championship this past weekend at Rhode Island college with a 7-6 win over Feinstein.
The win completed the perfect season for the Hurricanes, and was the only real test that Vets faced all year … there were some close, competitive games throughout, but none that were ever truly in doubt.
To put it simple, the Hurricanes rolled throughout the season.
One thing about this team that really stood out was the offense, it truly got production 1-9 on a daily basis. I remember speaking with coach Rich Hough in the preseason, and he told me that offense was going to be the focus this year at practice. It certainly paid off, as the Hurricanes averaged double-digit runs in the regular season and put up at least seven runs in each postseason matchup.
And when I say they could hit 1-9, I am not being hyperbolic, of the three games that I watched this year, I don’t recall there ever being a time when a portion of the lineup struggled, and seldom saw a 1-2-3 inning. The Hurricanes hit for power, average, and were the perfect blend of aggressive and patient at the plate.
One thing that Hough says quite a bit at third base is, ‘Just hit … relax, just hit.’ That comfort has clearly rubbed off on the players, and you can see it in their approach each at bat. On top of that, hitting in softball is contagious, and when Vets would get on a roll, it was nearly impossible to stop it. One hit would turn into two, which would turn into three and sometimes four in a row. What the Hurricanes did at the plate was just ridiculous … it was like clockwork.
Vets also got great pitching from Sophia Chevian and Alyssa Twomey throughout the season.
Many teams stick to one pitcher and will have a backup that will be thrust into action in a blowout, or if the starter needs a rest. Vets used both of these pitchers on a regular basis, and both proved to be top-notch hurlers in the league.
Although Feinstein’s big bats produced on Saturday, Chevian and Twomey pitched a really solid game combined and were a consistent force in the circle throughout the year. To have two, legitimate starting pitchers is a luxury for most teams, and the Hurricanes never had to worry about who they were handing the ball to.
Lastly, Vets was outstanding in the field.
Typically, in middle school softball, the athletes aren’t as experienced and developed as high schoolers. Errors occur in most games, even to the best teams. These players are still learning, and it is what it is. But Vets though, in the three games I covered I can’t recall a single blunder in the field that really hurt them. Were they perfect in all three games? No, but there were times when you forgot that you were watching a middle school team out there.
In all phases all throughout the year, Vets dominated the competition and was one of the rare teams that carried that momentum throughout the playoffs. The Hurricanes deserved to win it all, they really were a spectacular team. Like I said earlier, it was like clockwork watching them compete.
My biggest takeaway from the win and the season was how dominant and complete this team was. Regardless of level, you rarely see teams that are so far beyond the competition.
My second takeaway? Pilgrim softball is going to continue to excel for a long, long time.
The Pats made the postseason in the past two years, and came up short this season despite being considered the favorite by many to take home the title.
They lose their star pitcher Cat Fallon, who will be competing for D1 Maine next spring. However, they do bring back enough players to compete next year, and should be right in the mix at RIC.
Even beyond the current core of kids will be these middle schoolers making the move up next spring … as well as the seventh and sixth graders that will follow behind them. The Vets-Pilgrim connection is a strong as it has ever been, and the Pats will be inheriting some of the top middle school talent for the next few years. Vets will be saying by to a whopping 10 eighth graders from this group.
You also have to give credit to Coventry. The Oakers made it to state championship this season at the high school level and fell to La Salle, and Feinstein was clearly the second-best team in the state at the middle school level. Feinstein squared off with Vets twice this year, and despite dropping both games, only lost by a combined score of 12-9.
Pilgrim and Coventry look poised to run Division I softball for the next four or five years, and it is a rivalry that I hope develops in the future. Both the middle school teams and high school teams played each other extremely close and tough this past season, and it seems like they will continue to go at it in the future.
Overall, congrats to Vets on an unbelievable season.
To win a state championship is tough, but to be undefeated in doing so? Impressive to say the least.
It looks like Pilgrim and Warwick softball fans will have plenty to look forward to for a long time.