SPORTS

Where we stand at the halfway point

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It’s hard to believe, but we are already halfway through the spring sports regular season. Now that we have an actual sample size to work with, let’s get some observations and takes to this point.

My first take has to do with Pilgrim boys lacrosse. After coming up short in the state championship last season, the team, which is made up of much of the same core as last year’s group, has been on a tear.

The Pats finished last week at 10-0 and really have not been tested. Their closest game was against rival Toll Gate in the season opener, but they still ran away with a five-goal win. They really have been untouchable.

We see this all the time, a dominant team that gets a head start and become the first real title favorite. As big as these tears are, far too often do we see these teams either lose focus or get blindsided by the dark horse.

However, I think this team is winning the title this spring. It is just a special group that is head and shoulders above the competition. They have cruised past Toll Gate twice, Providence Country Day twice, Burrillville, Cranston West, and by wide margins, it hasn’t been close.

So, although I am not saying the title is in the bag, its about as close as it can be midway through the season.

Across the city, the Toll Gate girls have been on a tear of their own. After dropping their season opener, the Titans have rattled off seven consecutive wins and only Portsmouth sits above them in the standings.

The Titans fell in the championship last year and then were bumped up to Division II. You’d never realize it based on their performance, as they have fit right in and have been a force. Adeline Areson has been every bit the player that we anticipated - which is one of the best in the state.

Toll Gate has a tough test against Bay View coming up as well as a rematch against Burrillville, the Titans don’t have an easy road ahead of them. However, it’s hard not to be impressed with how well they have fared moving up a division.

The Division I baseball race is going to be another dogfight this season and no team has really grabbed control of it.

Hendricken is a perennial favorite and has been solid, Pilgrim followed up last year’s big run and is right in the thick of things, as are both Cranston East and West.

Right now, North Kingstown and Portsmouth are atop the standings, but I really don’t think that they are any better than the next few teams down the ladder. NK’s pitching is elite, but I do feel like it can be hit.

Between playoff seeding and what will eventually be postseason matchups, this is going to be a tight, unpredictable race the rest of the way. Any of the teams I just mentioned could conceivably take home a championship.

Then in Division II, Johnston has been excellent to this point and sits in second place overall. The Panthers schedule gets a bit tougher in the second half, so we’ll see how they make out, but either way they have been impressive.

Pilgrim softball finished last week in first place in Division I with just one loss and appears to be the favorite to win it all. This team’s run last year resembled the boys lacrosse squad … it was the favorite heading into the playoffs and came up just short.

The Pats have all the tools to win … an elite pitcher in Alyssa Twomey and a deep lineup behind her. I’m a big believer in playoff experience, and these returners got a taste of it last year at RIC.

Coventry is right there to defend its title, La Salle and Bay View are having big years … you also can’t count Cranston West out.

Like baseball, this Division I race is going to be interesting and close moving forward. Toll Gate is also hanging steady in Division II and could very well host a playoff game, while Johnston is also maintaining its spot in the playoff race.

The Johnston boys volleyball team has been our best to this point. The Panthers have just one loss and have a three-headed monster that is primed to make a run.

The team’s lone loss came to first-place Lincoln, who they will take on once again in the regular season. St. Ray’s is still a factor, but it seems like the Lions and Panthers are on a collision course to be the last two clubs standing.

The Pilgrim boys have also jumped out to a solid start in Division II. Although the Pats have not been the best team in Division II, they are certainly in this thing and sit in third place. Hendricken and Cranston East are each in the playoff picture in Division I, but at the end of the day, I’m not sure who is going to La Salle when it means the most. Not that I am counting the Bolts or Hawks out, or teams like Chariho and NK, but the Rams are the favorite at this point.

The Hendricken outdoor track and field team is doing what it always does … it’s winning consistently and has possible state champions in just about every event. I’m sure it will come down to the Hawks and Rams once again. On the girls side, you can never sleep on Cranston West.

Lastly, although none of our boys tennis teams appear to be ready to compete for a championship, West has held steady and should be able to make the playoffs. Who knows what will happen from there?

Let’s have a great few weeks here as we get ready for the final push before the summer.

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