SPORTS

High school sports season comes to a close

Posted 7/1/21

The spring high school sports season wrapped up this past weekend, marking the end of what was a memorable year of interscholastic sports.

The spring season always seems to go by the fastest and …

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SPORTS

High school sports season comes to a close

Posted

The spring high school sports season wrapped up this past weekend, marking the end of what was a memorable year of interscholastic sports.

The spring season always seems to go by the fastest and this year was no different. Seems like just yesterday that I was covering my first few baseball and softball games and seeing our teams get into action while also wapping up the third season. It has all been kind of a blur, really.

Now that the spring is officially over, let’s take one last look at how things played out and some of the biggest storylines to digest moving forward.

First, the Bishop Hendricken outdoor track and field team won the state championship at Conley.

It is never really a surprise when the Hawks win, they have had the most success of any team on the track over the course of the past two decades.

Hendricken’s track program is one of the best in the country and continues to churn out collegiate athletes left and right. Hendricken is always deep in talent and has an outstanding program led by coach Jim Doyle. It is one of the most steady teams throughout the state.

One aspect of this team and program that I find interesting and not talked about enough is its ability to transform athletes of other sports into state champions … seems like more than half of the team considers track to be their second or third sport. For them to be as dominant as they are every year is special, so although it is no longer thrilling per se, it is impressive to watch. Keep an eye out for the kids on that roster as a handful will be doing big things in the college ranks. Congrats.

The next team that I found compelling competing this past weekend was the Pilgrim softball team, which fell in the Division I State Championship against Coventry at Rhode Island College.

Prior to the start of the season, new Pilgrim coach Carlos Rodas was elling me that the team had a lot to prove as it was one of the oungest rosters it had featured in a while. About half of the starters were underclassmen, with even a couple of freshmen being relied on.

One of those youngsters ws starting pitcher Alyssa Twomey, who had one of the best postseason runs of the tournament.

Between shutting out St. Ray’s and then Coventry on Friday night, and coming up with key home runs against North Providence earlier in the playoffs and then again on Friday, there were times where she put the team on her back.

Twomey did not look like a sophomore out there, she looked like a seasoned upperclassman that was getting ready to head to the next level. Even on Saturday when the Oakers pulled off the 7-4 win, Twomey recovered from a four-run first inning to pitch a solid game the rest of the way.

Pilgrim has been one of the top Division I clubs over the course of the past decade and it appears to be going nowhere. Somehow, Pilgrim has its pitcher for two more seasons, a crop of other young players that stepped up to the plate, and a strong middle school program over at Vets. Pilgrim is just getting started.

I spoke a little about Cranston West baseball last week and about its big upset over Bishop Hendricken.

I am going to circle back to them one last time.

When looking at West’s record, the box scores, all of it, the Falcons did not exactly blow you away on the surface. But the thing about this team that was consistent, was that it was a tough out each game.

It did not matter the opponent, the Falcons held their own each day which made it impossible to project their performance heading into the postseason. Sure, West ultimately came up short against North Kingstown, but the fact that they were able to put the state’s top program away on the road was incredible.

West will be graduating a handful of key pieces. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they will be rebuilding next year, but they certainly will have a few new faces as most teams do. It will be interesting to see what kind of momentum that Falcons can gain from this run.

Another West program that impressed me was the girls outdoor track and field team.

In the three years that I have been in Rhode Island, the West girls have always been regulars in the top-10 at these statewide meets.

The Falcons always seem to have excellent relay teams, sprinters and hurdlers. Not that their throwers aren’t impressive, because they are, but the track side of the equation is super consistent.

This past weekend the girls took home a sixth place finish as a unit.

Anytime a public school cracks the top-10 is a nice story, but for West to reach sixth place and finish inside the top-10 is something that is overlooked by many, including myself at times.

Another team that made a splash on the track was the Johnston girls.

Once again, this is my third year of covering sports in Rhode Island, and Johnston track typically has been an afterthought besides Lala Olagundoye, who has been one of the town’s best athletes of all time and took home another title at states.

The Lady Panthers wound up cracking the top-10 with a ninth place finish overall. Maybe this performance will help springboard the Johnston girls to also being a mainstay atop the standings
on the track.

There are far too many stories for me to touch on here, and the ones I mentioned were the ones that were freshest on my mind.

Overall, this was a busy but fun spring season and it feels like an accomplishment to have made it through.

To complete 10 months of sports during a pandemic, and to do it with only a few hiccups, it is fantastic and much credit belongs to the league, coaches, schools, athletes and parents. With COVID-19 nearly in the rear view, let’s remember to never take the little things for granted and aim for a pleasant summer, and an even better fall coming up.

We are just about back to normal, so let’s be safe these next couple of months and put our best foot forward for September. Can’t wait to
get back at it.

My Pitch, sports

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