Spring playoff outlook


We’re in the final week of the regular season for spring sports with playoffs kicking off next week. Although every season produces some surprises, this spring has spoiled more of my preseason projections than the norm, both good and bad.

Let’s dive into where some of teams are and make some predictions as we wind down the final days of the regular season.

In baseball, you have to lock Bishop Hendricken in as the favorite at this point. The Hawks are undefeated and have beaten teams in every way. Griffin Crain has been a stud on the mound and at the plate, while guys like Jack LaRose, Ryan Thompson and Braeden Campbell have been stellar as well.

The Hawks were the favorite heading into the postseason last year but were upset by the Cinderella Cumberland Clippers. I would not go as far as calling them locks to win, but pencil Hendricken in as the favorite once again.

An interesting dark horse is Cranston East. John Devine has been elite and proved that he is a true ace after being behind college-level pitchers in years past. This was his year to take control of the rotation and he has lived up to the hype, while catcher Carlos Merejo gives the Bolts one of the scariest bats in the state in the middle of the lineup.

The Bolts have not been consistent enough to finish at the top of the standings, but make no mistake about it, when they are on, they can compete with – and beat – anyone in the state.

It looks like the Cranston East softball team is a lock to win the Division III championship. The Bolts have been inching their way toward contendership and seem to finally be there. They are undefeated and have blown out their past six opponents. They have hit such a hot streak that I don’t see a way they will be cooled off.

Freshman pitcher Isabella Sousa has been dominant and the Bolts can hit up and down the lineup. The fact that they can field and have blazing speed on the basepaths only makes them more dangerous. I’m always weary of declaring a team a champion before the playoffs even start, but I would say the Bolts are the lock of the spring at this point.

The Johnston softball team has been in the thick of a dogfight in Division II but has clawed its way to the top heading into the playoffs. Although there is no true favorite in the division, the Panthers are the closest thing to it. Haley Boudreau has been elite in the circle and the Panthers are the best fielding team in the division led by shortstop Arianna Velasquez. If Johnston’s bats produce, they’ll be hard to stop.

In Division I, La Salle is the heavy favorite and has dominated nearly every game it has played. Pilgrim’s young roster took its lumps early on but has been steadily rising all year. Although Pilgrim is not the favorite above La Salle or even second-place Coventry, you can’t count it out. Gretchen Dombeck has been a worthy successor to Alyssa Twomey and the young bats have matured quickly. The Pats are right in this thing.

Speaking of Pilgrim, the boys lacrosse team has also shaken off a slow start and will be heading into the playoffs as the top dog in Division II.

I wish I could give you better insight as to why Pilgrim was slow out the gate, but it just was. The team did deal with some injuries and some scheduling issues with weather, but beyond that I would just chalk it up to a slow start.

The Pats have been on fire down the stretch and have taken everyone’s best shot and have come out on the other end in first place. Braxton Bragg and Ryan Barlow are the best 1-2 punch in the division and will be tough to slow down come playoff time.

Prout grabbed a win over Pilgrim (even though the Pats were without Bragg), while Cumberland, South Kingstown and Cranston West are all right there. This is far from a runaway for Pilgrim, but the Pats are in the driver’s seat.

Back to West, the Falcons have taken a massive step forward and are right in this battle. Charlie Maguire has been on a tear from start to finish and Sam Naiefeh has become one of the stronger goalies in the division. Don’t count the Falcons out, especially seeing them battle Pilgrim in a 8-7 loss in the season finale last week.

To wrap up, it looks like Cranston could see each of its boys volleyball teams win championships.

The Bolts sit in second place in Division I and have proven to be able to beat anyone but first-place North Kingstown. It feels like the two teams are on a collision course for the title game, and although the Skippers have been the best team in the state, the Bolts – led by Charles Pincince – will be up for the challenge. An upset is on the table.

As for West, the Falcons flew out to 11 straight wins before dropping back to back matchups to come back down to earth. Fortunately for the Falcons, they still maintained first place and bounced back with a win over Pilgrim. The Falcons have been the best team in Division II and should win the title with guys like Christian Mak, Chris Harvey and Logan Reed, but perhaps there will be a little more resistance than originally expected. In the end, better for the rough patch to come now rather than next week.

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