SPORTS

Things to watch in upcoming playoffs

Posted 6/10/21

It's hard to believe it, but we are already nearing the end of the 2021 spring season. Golf wrapped up last week and most sports are finishing their regular seasons this week with the playoffs accounting for the two weeks following that. It's going to be

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SPORTS

Things to watch in upcoming playoffs

Posted

It’s hard to believe it, but we are already nearing the end of the 2021 spring season.

Golf wrapped up last week and most sports are finishing their regular seasons this week with the playoffs accounting for the two weeks following that.

It’s going to be a busy few weeks, in fact, the busiest two weeks that the high school sports scene has seen in quite some time. Considering the additional sports being played that were missed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are about to see numerous playoff races and championships crammed into a two-week window.

I’m not thrilled about the layout to be honest … seems like the league could have done a little better job of spacing things out. We’re talking three or four different sports competing for championships on the same day for two weeks in a row. Couldn’t they have either done a third week or some weekday championships?

I’m not going to whine any further, I have already seen some of my fellow media members speak out. I agree with their sentiments, but also respect the fact that the league has had an unprecedented set of circumstances. I’ll leave it there and let my contemporaries do my dirty work.

On a more positive note, though, let’s get into some stories.

Here are a few items that I have in mind as we take one step closer to the upcoming playoffs:

First off, our softball teams have been every bit as good as advertised.

Pilgrim has been a steady Division I power for the better part of a decade and Cranston West fields about half a dozen girls that are signed on to play college ball.

Now, Pilgrim is 8-1 and is looking like the favorite to take it all. The Lady Pats just lost their first game to St. Ray’s, but it went to extras and was split between two days thanks to inclimate weather. However you chop it up, they’ve been impressive.

West is 9-3 with losses to La Salle, Pilgrim and St. Ray’s. The Falcons have also lived up to the hype and are right in the thick of this race.

Division I softball is always a dog fight. The top three or four teams always seem to be virtually even, and this year appears to be no different between the aforementioned teams.

That is why the softball tournaments are always so much fun to watch. Most years, especially as of late, it really does come down to who plays the best each day of the postseason. No team is truly better than the rest … it’s just the one that can catch fire and perform at the right time.

Another team to look out for isToll Gate. The Titans dropped their first three games this spring but have since turned around and won five in a row. They are all of a sudden turning into possible dark horses in their division.

For lacrosse, the Pilgrim boys team has been pretty interesting to follow. After winning its first five games, most of them handily, they dropped their first to Westerly and have a pretty tough draw to close out the regular season. Pilgrim has proven that it is capable of being a championship contender, but I think we will get an even better temperature on the team this last week.

Pilgrim and Toll Gate have also been rolling this spring on the girls lacrosse side. As of this writing, the two teams are in first (Toll Gate, 8-1) and second (Pilgrim, 6-3) in the Division III group. Could we be seeing a two-team race between Warwick’s two schools? Lacrosse is also an unpredictable sport, but I am always excited to see possible games and races like this.

We also have a few of our boys volleyball teams that are ready to make a run.

Cranston West is currently 9-1 while Hendricken is 7-1 and Johnston is 5-1.

The defending champion Falcons look like the team to beat in Division II. East used to boast the superior boys program in the city for a while, but over the course of the past two seasons that have been played, the pendulum has swung in the other direction.

Hendricken lost in the finals against Coventry back in 2019 … I was at that game and it seems like a lifetime ago. The Hawks are looking like they will give themselves a chance to reach that point again and possibly win it. The Panthers are looking poised to reach the playoffs for the first time in their three-year history as a program. Let’s see if they can make a statement.

Things can change of course, but as of now, it looks like the one baseball team of ours that has established itself as a contender is Hendricken. That comes as no surprise.

From there, West, Pilgrim and Johnston are all playoff factors. It is just a matter of whether or not they can take that next step forward, pull off an upset or two and climb their way toward the top.

The last race that intrigues me is in outdoor track and field.

As always, it looks like a two-team race between Hendricken and La Salle. I know that people must despise me when I say this because I do all the time … but I can’t get sick of the Hawks-Rams rivalry.

Do I see why the state is sick of it? Absolutely, for track especially, it really has come down to these two teams every season for the past decade-plus. But, that’s what I find so interesting. Not only that, but they’re always so even, it’s really hard to call leading up to the big day.

So, there you have it. I hope I did not bore you, but I for one, had a blast and got myself excited looking through the standings and game logs while writing this. As I said at the beginning of this column, the next few weeks are going to make your head spin.

But hey, there are worse things in the world than having sports championships shoved down your throat.

My Pitch, sports

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