We are officially in the thick of the high school spring playoff season in Rhode Island, and a handful of Warwick teams are set to make some noise as we enter the final games of the 2018-19 school year.
Let’s take a look at some of the teams that will be worth keeping an eye on and some of the stories heading into the postseason.
First off, not much has changed with Bishop Hendricken baseball and Pilgrim softball.
The Hawks finished the regular season undefeated in league play, and locked up the No. 1 seed in the Division I tournament. A few weeks back I called them a lock to win the state championship, and I am sticking by that stance.
The Hawks are deep in pitching, led by Randy Reyes who is having a remarkable senior season. They can hit 1-9 in the lineup, which includes numerous college commits like Kevin Gower and Tucker Flint, who was recently named the Gatorade Player of the Year for baseball in Rhode Island. They are experienced, have an elite coaching staff led by Ed Holloway.
Things just keep falling in place for the Hawks, and I highly doubt any team will be able to beat them in a best-of-three series. I fully expect them to be the last team standing at McCoy Stadium in June.
Pilgrim softball has also been on a tear, and carries the top seed and a 10-game win streak into this week’s postseason. The Pats too have elite pitching as well as a deep lineup. Cat Fallon has cemented her place as the top pitcher in the state this year, finishing the regular season with three no-hitters and three one-hitters. Emily Carter has also proved to be a top varsity-level starter behind her, and Deidra Clements dazzled in her fist-ever varsity start against Cranston West last week. The Pats’ lineup also includes big bats like Fallon, Madi D’Amato, Dyonna Rodas, Jill Ricci.
Like the Hendricken baseball team also, the Pats are an experienced bunch with an even more experienced coaching staff. Of course, there are teams like La Salle, Chariho, Coventry and Moses Brown that are still very much in the race, but the Pats are the deserved favorites this postseason, and I would bet on them bringing home their first title since 2003.
Shifting to lacrosse, the only Warwick team that still remains on the boys side is Hendricken.
The Hawks had a shaky regular season, finishing with a 3-7 record. Fortunately for the Hawks, all teams in Division I qualify for the postseason. However, Hendricken traveled to Barrington and pulled out the 14-9 win to punch its ticket to the semis against No. 1 La Salle. The Hawks have fallen to the Rams twice by scores on 19-4 and 16-6 this season, so let’s see if they can continue to pull off the underdog story.
The girls side on the other hand has had better luck. Pilgrim wrapped up the No. 3 seed and faced Ponaganset on Memorial Day evening (the results were not available at press time). Pilgrim finished the season on a roll, so assuming they pulled out the win on Monday, they seem to have as good a shot as any to hoist gold at Cranston Stadium.
Across town, Toll Gate is floating as a dark horse in Division III. The Titans pulled off the upset by topping Burrillville 9-8 on the road in the quarters, and have quietly won eight of their last nine contests. Toll Gate has not allowed 10 goals in that span, showing off their tough defense and goal tending. Maybe if we’re lucky, we will see an all-Warwick State final. Toll Gate has a tough task ahead, as they are set to take on No. 1, undefeated Lincoln on Thursday.
This weekend, Brown University will once again host the RIIL State Championships for outdoor track and field … and once again, it looks like Hendricken will take home the top prize.
Whether it is cross country in the fall, indoor track in the winter, or outdoor track in the spring, Hendricken coach Jim Doyle has established one of the premier programs in the country. The Hawks look poised to hoist their third state title in four years and their 25th overall, boasting a senior-rich lineup with numerous athletes already committed to college. Some of those guys include Max Paolino, Ryan Morel, Aidan Tierney, Russell White and Duwaun Edwards. Anything can happen, but I believe Hendricken will run to the top of the podium once again.
Other sports include golf and boys volleyball.
The Hawks were set to tee off this morning at Cranston Country club, and are looking to top some of the other elite programs such as East Greenwich, Portsmouth, Burrillville and Barrington. The Hawks had a new-look lineup this season, losing their top player and RI state champion Colin Sutyla to graduation. However, they have rebounded and put together another strong campaign, finishing 11-1.
The Hawks also had a solid outing on the volleyball court, sitting at 9-7 with two games remaining. However, Pilgrim has been the talk of the town, sitting at 11-3 and in third place in Division II. The Pats have topped some of the best teams in the division, including a win over first-place Cranston West. The final standings are still shaking out this week, but either of these two teams could take home a state title if things line up for them.
It is impressive when looking at the number of Warwick-based teams that will be competing for a title in the next few weeks … there must be something in the water.