Preseason thoughts on upcoming spring


We’ve made it to spring.

Now, I will be taking a deeper dive into our teams in next week’s column as I continue to research and speak with coaches regarding the upcoming season, but let me at least start by giving you a general idea of what we have cooking with our clubs here at Beacon Communications and a few of the top stories I am watching as we gear up.

In terms of baseball, the top team to watch is Bishop Hendricken.

The Hawks were the favorites heading into the playoffs last year and fell victim to eventual champion Cumberland, who pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the state for the entire sports calendar.

Fortunately for Hendricken, it returns a lot of that same lineup and should be viewed as a shortlist contender once again.

Sure, ace Alex Clemmey is off to the pros, but plenty returns. Griffin Crain, Jack LaRose, Ryan Thompson, to name a few of the key players that will be back.

This is a deep lineup that is built to last, even without last year’s phenom on the mound.

Softball is probably my favorite sport to cover in the spring and we are once again in for a bunch of fun races in the coming months.

Both Pilgrim and Cranston West are contenders in Division I and both are in similar spots heading into the year.

Pilgrim lost Gatorade Player of the Year Alyssa Twomey who is up at Providence College while the Falcons lost their ace in the circle in Paige Cote. Each team has some big time players returning. Pilgrim has players like Marin Prest, Genna D’Amato and Audra McDonnell while West has Siena Nardelli and Sofia Marella.

The question will be how the other teams in the division look. Pilgrim and West will once again be as good as any team they come across, but how will Coventry, Bay View and La Salle all pan out? Division I is a dogfight each year and is shaping up to be no different in 2024.

Cranston East is also returning a big core from last year’s team that made some noise in its new division. How far can the Bolts go now as one of the more experienced teams in DIII? Johnston will also be returning much of its playoff roster and can be a factor.

For lacrosse, I am stoked to see the Pilgrim and Toll Gate boys go at it.

The Pats were the reigning DIII champs last season and reached the DII finals after moving up. Toll Gate turned things around and reached the playoffs in DII as well, which was exciting as we got to see a new Warwick rivalry emerge.

A few years back, I caught some flack for saying that the DIII Pats could hang with DI teams. Sure, DII is different than DI, but the fact that they made it to the finals proved my point, and Pilgrim should be right back in the championship mix with Ryan Barlow and Braxton Bragg back on the field. Cooper Grossguth will be leading the Titans as they look to remain a factor in the division.

On the girls side, the team to watch is Toll Gate, who will get Adeline Areson back.

Areson just led the Titans to a basketball championship, but lacrosse may be her best sport and now she is back and fully healthy. The lax team is a bit further off than the basketball team was. The basketball team reached the semis in her absence the year before while the lacrosse team is coming off a one-win season.

Regardless, adding a player of that caliber while building on last year’s experience should allow Toll Gate to take a step forward. Maybe even a big step.

We have a few boys volleyball teams that are going to be looking to make statements.

The two-time defending Division III champion Johnston returns to its division after some speculation of a potential jump up to DII. Ultimately, it looks like standing still will be for the best, as the Panthers graduated a significant chunk of their lineup.

Josh Philbrick, Jacob Muller, Mouhamadou Marone, Josh Galeas, Sam Cambranes, Anthony Corsinetti and James Guilmette all graduated. The team will be doing a full roster reset this spring.

However, this team had plenty of depth last year and never skipped a beat when subs were called in and out. Will the Panthers maintain their spot among the division’s elite, or will they take a step back and have to climb the mountain from the bottom?

Cranston West reached the Division II finals last season and what was impressive was the team’s desire to be in Division I. The season before they struggled in the top division and the players felt that they should have stayed.

The Falcons will be back in Division II, which may ruffle their feathers (pun intended), but West will have a chance to return to the championship game. Aidan Hay is gone, but Christian Mak and Christopher Harvey return. Depth will be the question with this group beyond its top three or four players, but West absolutely has a chance to be in the championship mix again.

pitch, preseason


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