Playoff races taking shape


Here we are as we enter the back half of the spring playoffs. We have already seen some teams win championships, come up short, and some are still working their way through their respective brackets.

There is plenty to chew on here with all of our teams that have either finished or are still going, so here are some of my mid playoff thoughts regarding our teams.

The Pilgrim boys lacrosse team finally got over the hump and won the state championship after coming so close last season.

This spring was a revenge tour for the Pats. I know, I know, what a lame cliche, but a revenge tour it truly was. Pilgrim finished undefeated and virtually untested. Sure, Toll Gate, Cranston West and Narragansett all kept things within reason, but none of them actually scared Pilgrim. Those games were never truly in doubt.

It’s rare to see a perfect season in high school sports, but it is even rarer to see a team flat out dominate each team it faced, or at the very least, won decisively.

When teams have seasons such as theirs, it makes me wonder how they would have fared against other competition. Pilgrim is in Division III, but it is hard to say that it would not have found success at other levels. That is what’s so much fun about these situations, thinking about the possibilities.

Based on purely numbers and projection, I think Pilgrim would have been in the championship mix in Division II. Would it have been unbeaten and walked its way to the title? Probably not, but it definitely would have been toward the top.

Could Pilgrim have made some noise in Division I? Call me crazy, but I think so. Again, do I think they would have been the clear-cut, no questions asked, best team? No, especially not at Division I, but I do think this team could have and would have made the playoffs and have been a factor. How could you deny that when seeing how ridiculous this run was?

I am happy for those guys. The seniors love lacrosse, absolutely adore it. That is what stood out to me over the course of the past two seasons … Pilgrim wanted it so bad.

The Cranston West girls outdoor track and field team had a phenomenal finish to its season, winning the Class A Championship then taking third overall at states.

The biggest story, perhaps, of the entire day was its relay team of Maddie Alves, Mikaya Parente, Lindsey Hobin and Ailani Sutherland breaking the state record in the 400.

This group was obviously among the best in state. Sutherland clearly the best sprinter, Alves and Parents are always seated in the top 10, and Hobin is among the best hurdlers around. The four of them were a force that put it all together on the big stage. Kudos for them and what a finish.

I do find the whole Class A winner versus state winner phenomenon fascinating. For those who did not read my column a few weeks back, when looking at the past decade or so, only a couple of Class A champs have gone on to win at states. It would make sense that pretty much every year, the Class A champ would win since it’s the largest class, but for some reason, it usually doesn’t work out that way.

I was rooting for the Falcons, but it really is mind boggling that the trend continued. Either way, third place overall is a fantastic finish and this team was the best girls team that I have covered in the four years that I have been in Rhode Island.

The softball playoffs are in the thick of things and I must admit, I love the whole double elimination format. In fact, I think that’s the best playoff format there is. At least for a sport such as softball.

Sure, series in baseball for example, are classic. They also insure that a good team won’t be eliminated on one bad performance. Hell, sometimes even a good performance is not enough when facing the best of the best.

Series, though, bore me at times. Not always, there are often some great back and forths. The problem though is when one team is clearly better than the other. There’s not much to see there and you know by the end of the first game which team has the edge.

Double elimination gives you a bunch of matchups and possibilities. It’s fun keeping track of the brackets and thinking about which teams may square off and under what circumstances. As of this writing, Pilgrim, Cranston West and Toll Gate are still in the battle. It’ll be fun seeing how they finish by the end of this week.

There is one more topic that I wanted to touch on that I have not yet, and that is Toll Gate hiring Jim Miceli as its new football coach. I wrote a story on it last week but had written my column prior to the news breaking, so here are my thoughts.

I love the hire, absolutely love it.

By season’s end, former coach Jim Stringfellow just was not on the same page as his team and if you ask me, it was simply because it had lost so much from the season prior, including quarterback Greyson Pasquina. On top of that, the Titans were moved up a division … it kind of felt like they were doomed from the start.

Now, Miceli brings a fresh voice into the room and takes an old-school approach to the game. It was just one of those situations where the program needed a total makeover, a breath of fresh air. Stringfellow’s tenure with Toll Gate was ultimately a success, the Titans more often than not were in the playoffs and had some really good teams over the years. It was just time to move on as the Titans were in a period of transition.

Fall will be here before we know, so it will be one of the most interesting stories to follow when the time comes.

My Pitch, sports column


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