Two of Pilgrim’s top athletes were recognized on Wednesday morning, as standout baseball players Matt Woods and Kyle Denis made their college commitments official – with Woods inking a National Letter of Intent to stay in-state at Division I Bryant University and Denis securing his loyalty to Division III UMass Dartmouth.
Woods announced his verbal commitment to the Bulldogs last November, so to put the pen to paper and make everything official was a moment he’d been looking forward to for quite some time.
“Awesome,” Woods said of how it felt to make his commitment official. “The whole process, being a commit and then signing there and knowing I’m definitely going, there’s just that relief. I’m excited to continue my senior year, but it’s exciting. That’s all you can really say.”
Woods has been one of the top players in the state throughout his high school career, earning back-to-back Second Team All-State nods in his sophomore and junior seasons.
The speedy infielder will bring his unique skill set to a Bulldogs’ program that has encountered a great deal of success in recent years. Bryant has posted a winning record in each of the last 11 seasons, and it won the Northeast Conference title and made an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2016.
“The coaching staff is unbelievable, and all the resources and facilities they have are great,” Woods said of why he chose Bryant. “Being in the Northeast, it’s kind of hard to practice in the winter, but they have a big, indoor dome where you can play live in there. I know that Coach Owens, Coach Monaghan, Coach Pettoruto, Coach Grenier are going to best prepare me for the next level and try to get me to the next level. That’s what sold it for me.”
Denis was one of Warwick Vets’ top hitters during his freshman and sophomore seasons before transferring over to Pilgrim for his junior season this past spring. The catcher/first baseman brought a big bat to the middle of Pilgrim’s lineup last season, driving in a team-high nine runs.
When choosing to continue his baseball career with the Corsairs, Denis made his decision based on fit.
“I really like the atmosphere over there and the coaching style,” Denis said. “I went on a visit and got to see the camaraderie with the guys and the coaching staff. I felt like I can really fit over there, be my best and be the most successful.”
It meant a lot to both Denis and Woods to have family, coaches, friends and Pilgrim faculty attend the ceremony to support them on such a meaningful day.
“It’s definitely awesome having everyone out here supporting us,” Denis said. “Teachers came out and supported us because they know how hard it is to balance sports and school, so for us to achieve this goal and go to college and play at the next level, they definitely get it and support us 100 percent, and we appreciate that.”
The Pilgrim baseball team got a taste of playoff action last season, and Woods and Denis have high aspirations for the Pats this upcoming spring, as well. They plan on concluding their high school careers on a high note.
“We have big expectations,” Woods said of his final season in a Pilgrim uniform. “If you’re going into a season and you’re not thinking about winning it all, then there’s no point in going in. We’re going to set the ceiling at its highest because you can’t set it low. We’re going to go for it all.”