We are officially in the thick of the spring playoffs this week and I am excited to enter the final push before the summer break.
Let’s dive right into where we are and what’s to come.
As of this writing on Tuesday morning, we have a handful of our lacrosse teams still in the mix.
The Bishop Hendricken boys beat Barrington in the opening round of the Division I race and will be taking on top-seeded La Salle Academy. The Rams have been the hottest team in the state and beat the Hawks pretty good in the regular season, but of course, anything can happen once you’re there.
Hendricken played a tough non-league schedule, taking on some of the best teams from Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut. Some of those teams were nationally-ranked. Having said that, although it would be unwise at this point to go against the Rams, I would not totally count the Hawks out. They’ve been as battle-tested as any group this spring.
The top-seeded Pilgrim team will be taking on crosstown rival Toll Gate on Wednesday with the winner heading to the DIII final on Saturday.
The Pats have also been dominant this season, finishing the regular season unbeaten and virtually untested. Again, anything can happen in the playoffs, but I struggle to see Pilgrim coming up short.
The Pats were the favorite at this time last year and nearly got it done, but fell short in the title game. They’ve been on a mission this year and have really separated themselves from the pack.
Pilgrim and Toll Gate have squared off twice this year. Pilgrim got an opening day win, but the Titans rallied to keep the Pats honest until late in the game. Toll Gate managed to keep a tied score until late in the first half in the second meeting as well before Pilgrim took off.
Again, I’m going with Pilgrim the rest of the way. It’s hard to pick against that level of dominance. Toll Gate has played them hard though, so we’ll see what happens from here.
On the girls side, Toll Gate has been one of the biggest surprises in the state, moving up to Division II but managing to take the third seed in the playoffs with a 9-2 regular season. The Lady Titans traveled to Burrillville on Tuesday to take on the defending DIII champion Broncos, who narrowly beat them in the championship last year.
The Cranston West girls won their opening round matchup against Chariho in a thrilling win at home last week and faced top-seeded Portsmouth on Tuesday for a chance to go to the title game on the line. Portsmouth has been perhaps the best team in the state, so West had a daunting task. The Cranston East girls are also in the thick of their playoff run and has been flying under the radar a bit. The Bolts took on top-seeded East Providence, who they almost beat earlier this spring.
The Johnston girls pulled off a 9-5 upset over Classical in the play-in game, but came up short to the aforementioned Townies in the quarterfinals. The Panthers had an up and down season, so to get that win is a feather in their cap, for sure.
For what’s up next, the baseball playoffs should be fun to watch. Bishop Hendricken grabbed the top seed in its division and figures to be a favorite to make a deep run. Although Pilgrim wasn’t quite as dominant as it was last spring, it also has title aspirations.
Both Cranston East and West had mixed results this year but did enough to earn playoff spots. Not sure if championships are in the picture for them, but you never know who will get hot and make some noise.
Johnston finished second in Division II and recently split its series with top-seeded Westerly, handing the Bulldogs their only league loss this spring. The Panthers are right in the mix and with ace Jeremy Urena in the fold, have a real chance to make a run at a championship.
Pilgrim is looking to return to the championship in softball and will have every chance to do so. Between a deep lineup and having arguably the best player in the state in Alyssa Twomey, Pilgrim should at the very least make a deep run, as should Toll Gate, who took the second seed in their division in DII.
Cranston West and Johnston grabbed lower seeds but have shown flashes of big ability throughout the season. Will one of these teams be a dark horse in their respective races?
On to volleyball, where the Johnston boys are looking to grab a title in Division III. The Panthers enter the tournament with the second seed, having only lost to top-seeded Lincoln.
Lincoln went 2-0 against Johnston with a 6-0 combined score. The Lions are secure as the favorite, but if anyone is going to knock them off, it will be the Panthers.
Hendricken and Cranston East are both very much alive in the Division I race, despite each holding modest seedings. The Hawks and Bolts have competed with and beaten some of the best teams in the state, so although neither of these teams are the betting favorites, they shouldn’t be counted out just yet.
Then for outdoor track, I think it is safe to say that the Hawks will likely fly to yet another title and their impressive outing at the class championships reinforces that. The West girls pulled off an unexpected win and are all of a sudden locked in as the favorite on the girls side. We’ll see how things shake out this weekend.
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