Favorites: BC High (15-5), Xaverian (10-10), Walpole (17-3), Norwood (16-4), Silver Lake (16-4)
Contenders: Bridgewater-Raynham (15-5), Braintree (14-4), Taunton (14-6)
Dark horses: New Bedford (11-9), Barnstable (12-8), Franklin (12-8)
Overview: If there was ever a case to be made in favor of next year’s Division 1A “Super 8” tournament, the Division 1 South bracket would be Exhibit A. Last spring, Xaverian skated into the tournament at 12-8, good enough for a 15 seed, and knocked off No. 2 seed Walpole in the first round en route to the D1 state title. This spring, the Hawks slip into the tournament at 10-10 and draw No. 2 seed Norwood, a fellow favorite, for a first round game just five days after the two played to a 6-5 Norwood victory. Walpole’s path is slightly less dangerous this time around, but the Rebels’ pitching depth will be tested after ace Mike Gaughan. BC High suffered one of the most shocking upsets of the tournament last spring, falling to Framingham 3-2 in the first round; don’t be surprised if New Bedford, the wild card of this field, gives them a good run.
Hall’s Pick: Walpole over Braintree, BC High over Xaverian in semifinals; BC High over Walpole in finals.
Favorites: Oliver Ames (15-5), Nauset (16-4), Hingham (15-6), Plymouth North (14-6)
Contenders: Dighton-Rehoboth (13-7), Milford (13-7), Hopkinton (12-8)
Dark horses: Greater New Bedford (13-5), Stoughton (13-7), Sharon (12-8), Dennis-Yarmouth (11-9)
Overview: Plymouth North took this field last season in dramatic fashion, using some trickeration to quell D-R, but it was far from their best squad in recent years. That’s why you never count out the Eagles come tournament time – coach Dwayne Follette, master of the small-ball, knows how to win playoff games. Still, there’s loads of individual talent in this field, between Hingham righthander Evan Flanagan (Rhode Island), Hopkinton infielder Ryan Sullivan (UConn) and Oliver Ames outfielder David MacKinnon (Hartford), which should make this one of the more unpredictable brackets of the tournament.
Hall’s Pick: Oliver Ames over Dennis-Yarmouth, Plymouth North over Nauset in semifinals; Oliver Ames over Plymouth North in finals.
Favorites: Abington (17-3), Coyle-Cassidy (16-4), Fairhaven (14-6)
Contenders: Ashland (16-4), Archbishop Williams (14-4), East Bridgewater (14-4), Middleborough (15-5)
Dark horses: Bishop Feehan (14-6), Old Rochester (12-8), Medway (10-9)
Overview: Once again, the scheduling Gods have a sense of humor. One of the most interesting draws of the tournament involves a potential quarterfinal between Coyle and Fairhaven, who split their season series this year. Coyle has had early exits the last few seasons, but with heavy-handed aces Donny May (Fordham) and Mac Curran (Niagara) alternating starts in the playoffs, you have to like their chances to go deep. Elsewhere, keep an eye on some hidden talents such as Old Rochester’s Zach Perry (Northeastern) and Medway ace Zach Walker, who tossed no-hitters in back-to-back starts this season.
Hall’s Pick: Abington over East Bridgewater, Coyle-Cassidy over Middleborough in semifinals; Coyle-Cassidy over Abington in finals.
Favorites: Pope John Paul II (18-2), West Bridgewater (19-1), Avon (19-3)
Contenders: Bishop Connolly (13-7), Monomoy (13-7), Millis (13-9), Mashpee (13-9), Cohasset (11-9)
Dark horses: Sturgis East (13-3), Bristol-Plymouth (11-7), Old Colony (12-8)
Overview: The favorite here figures to be upstart Pope John Paul, which ended the regular season outscoring the opposition a cumulative 243-35. That includes a season split with Barnstable (L, 4-3; W, 3-0), a 1-0 loss to Archbishop Williams, and poundings of Connolly and Sturgis East.
Hall’s Pick: Pope John Paul over Monomoy, West Bridgewater over Bishop Connolly in semifinals; Pope John Paul over West Bridgewater in finals.