As you may have read last week, my wife and I welcomed our baby boy Wesley into the world so I was out of the loop. That said, I will now wrap up the spring season and give you my final thoughts.
While I was away, the Pilgrim softball team and Bishop Hendricken baseball team each fell in their championship appearances. The Coventry Oakers repeated as softball champions, holding off the Pats in a tight no-hitter. The Hawks dropped consecutive games to North Kingstown to fall at the hands of the Skippers.
As for softball, the Oakers showed their championship pedigree late in the season and got the job done again. Although Coventry never faced any real adversity this spring, there were a few losses early on and Division I is always a dog fight. Midway through the season, the Oakers were far from a lock to reach the promised land.
By the championship, Coventry had put it all together to nab another title. The Oakers got elite pitching, reliable fielding and timely offense to get the job done.
As for Pilgrim, it was another great season for the Pats, who returned to the big dance after losing a pretty hefty core from last year’s team.
Alyssa Twomey was the best player in the state this spring and held up her end of the bargain throughout the playoffs. The Pats lost to Coventry to fall into the losers bracket but beat Bay View and West to earn another crack at the Oakers.
Pilgrim was every bit as elite as it has been over the past few years and did everything right. Really, the only team that has been better in the past two years has been Coventry.
Next year will be interesting. Pilgrim returns much of its roster, including Twomey, while Coventry will be saying bye to a handful of key seniors. Am I saying the Pats will automatically leapfrog them? Of course not, but Pilgrim should be sitting pretty from the jump. There will be no reason why the Pats should not be able to return to the championship and win it.
As for Hendricken, I was a little surprised to see the Hawks lose in consecutive games. As I mentioned heading into the finals, I had not seen North Kingstown this year so I was not very familiar with the Skippers. I knew they had the best pitcher in the state and had a solid offense, but I just went with the Hawks who I perceived to be the safe pick.
However, North Kingstown shut the Hawks down and rolled to the win. I was not able to cover the series unfortunately while I was away, but from what I have seen, heard and read, the Skippers were impressive.
Hendricken will be back, it always is, especially when it comes to baseball. The Hawks will be graduating Brandyn Durand, so that will be a big hole to fill in the middle of their lineup, he is among the best players in the program’s history.
But, Hendricken is also pretty young which is surprising. Jack LaRose, Griffin Crain, Braden Campbell and Alex Clemmey are all set to return, so the Hawks should be considered a top-2 team heading into next spring. I was surprised to see the Skippers get the win … not shocked, but surprised, especially in consecutive games.
For our final two teams, congrats on a big spring. It was a blast to cover.
Here is a fun topic I wanted to speak on, and it is fighting in pro sports.
I am not speaking about boxing, MMA, combat sports, no, I mean the traditional ones.
Over the weekend, there was a big baseball brawl between the Angels and Mariners. The benches cleared, punches were thrown, eight players were ejected and a handful of them will be suspended. It was an ugly sight, but an entertaining one.
In terms of baseball specifically, I am a sucker for bench-clearing brawls. In my opinion, baseball players can be a bit stiff … they play by the rules and don’t really flash.
That’s why I love this stuff, it shows these athletes at their most authentic. I have replayed the fight a dozen times on my phone, and I can’t get enough of it.
Fighting has been ingrained in the fibers of hockey. It is never unusual to see combatants drop the gloves and go at it. Again, those fights provide some of the longest-lasting highlight reels in sports. The fighting numbers in the NHL have plummeted in recent years which is a shame to see.
I love football fights, baseball fights, NASCAR fights, you name it, I love it.
That is probably the New Englander in me. Boston sports fans are known for being rough around the edges, so maybe that is me demonstrating that without even realizing it. I wonder if the softer areas of the country are disgusted with fighting. I wonder if they roll their eyes when the benches clear and mayhem ensues. I, for one, love it.
To be honest with you, it’ll never happen, but I believe these leagues should embrace fighting a little more. Am I saying they should be incentivizing it? Well no, but I do think the punishments should be on the lighter side depending on how far they go.
Some fights get ugly. There are times when blood is shed, they spill into the crowds. Those situations warrant harsh punishments. But for what happened this past weekend? Punches were thrown, insults traded. Give the perpetrators a game to cool off and allow them back.
Especially in a dying sport like baseball, it needs all the ratings it can get
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