Friday, May 31, 2013
New England Roundup: Rhode Island
By Mike Scandura
What do the boys’ lacrosse teams from La Salle Academy, East Greenwich and Smithfield have in common?
Each team is undefeated and is in first place in its respective division and, not surprisingly, is the odds-on favorite to capture a state championship.
The Rams (10-0 in Division I and 12-0), who are coached by Colonel Steven McConnell, the Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, boast an offense that’s off the charts.
Through matches of May 21, the Rams have out-scored their opponents by a margin of 202-65.
The story within the story is that La Salle attacks Brady O’Donnell and Joe Manown are the top two scorers in the state regardless of division.
O’Donnell, who’s a senior, has whipped home 56 goals and assisted on 33 while sophomore Manown has scored 49 goals and assisted on 38. What makes Manown’s proficiency all the more noteworthy is the fact he missed most of the 2012 season due to injury.
East Greenwich (13-0 in Division II and 13-2 overall), is riding the backs of 15 seniors who have played an integral role in the Avengers’ offense and defense.
Coach Brian Trapani’s team leads the division with 163 goals and has allowed a stingy total of 43.
Senior Colin Watikun and senior Colin Bernier lead the Avengers with 50 points apiece, Waitkun having scored 39 goals and assisted on 11 with Bernier having fired home 40 goals and assisted on 10.
Smithfield (12-0 in Division III and 12-2 overall) hasn’t lost a division game since the 2010 season.
Coach Joe Renzi’s Sentinels weren’t expected to be a contender since the team graduated 16 players from the 2012 squad. But attacks Brendan Benoit, Nick Gerlach and Matt Walker have led an offense that’s tied with Coventry in goals scored with 139.
MOUND KING Team sport notwithstanding, the baseball program at Hendricken is heavily reliant on arguably the state’s best pitcher, senior Mike King who’s signed a letter of intent to play at Boston College.
King is a major reason why the Hawks lead Division I-North with a 16-0 record since he’s recorded an 8-1 record replete with 46 strikeouts and a mere six walks in 33 innings.
A right-hander, King didn’t allow his first earned run of the season until May 18 when Hendricken beat La Salle, 4-1. King spaced out six hits while going the distance – again.
King also helps himself at the plate with a batting average that’s hovered around .500 all season.
In a recent 5-1victory over Cranston West, King’s RBI single helped key a five-run first inning.
Another Hawk who’s been wielding a potent bat is John Toppa, grandson of the late Rogers High football coaching legend of the same name.
In a 4-3 victory over St. Raphael, Toppa’s fourth-inning double drove home the game-winning run. And in a 6-1 win over Cumberland, Toppa contributed a single, triple and two RBI.
* Central Falls pulled off the upset of the season regardless of division when the Warriors won their first game of the season – 5-2 over Division II-North leader Tolman (12-2). Emmanuel Antigua smacked a two-run single during a four-run fourth inning while Brandon Canuto went the distance for the victory. The loss sliced Tolman’s lead over second-place Scituate (13-3) to one game.
* North Kingstown’s Billy Young improved his record to 4-0 by blanking Toll Gate, 7-0, in a Division II-South game. Young allowed only two hits and fanned 10.
* East Providence’s Colin Costa collected two doubles, a single and five RBI as the Townies (14-1) held onto first place in Division II-Central by beating Mount Pleasant, 9-4. Teammate Colin Grant struck out 17 Kilties en route to the complete-game victory.
CLOSE SHAVE Never let it be said that East Providence softball coach Rob Traverse isn’t true to his word.
A year ago, the Townies won only three of their first 12 games. Traverse made a “bet” with his players that if they won at least seven games this season he’d shave his head. They did and he did.
East Providence currently is in fifth place in the Division I with a 10-5 record – the Townies’ most impressive victory being a 2-0 blanking of North Kingstown (i.e. it was the Skippers’ first loss).
In that win over the Skippers, EP broke a scoreless tie in the eighth inning on Amy DeCastro’s single and Casey Traverse’s subsequent sacrifice fly.
In other games of note:
* Lincoln High to nobody’s surprise clinched the Division I title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming state tournament by beating La Salle, 4-1. Lindsay Mayer allowed only one run on two hits for the 14-0 Lions.
* Division II-East leader Moses Brown (10-5) blanked Central, 6-0, in a crossover game as Emma Rantanen tossed a one-hitter – losing her bid for a no-hitter when Dianna Torres singled with two outs in the sixth.
ENTERING THE HALL Even though Central Falls is the smallest city in the state, its high school has produced a host of outstanding athletes.
Nine will be inducted into the Central Falls Athletic Hall of Fame on October 11: former boys’ basketball coach Ed McVeigh plus athletes Albert Cardosa, Jeff Desautel, James Dougan, Brian Goodhart, Kevin Guindon, Carmen Pizarro, Russell Standring, Ken Vaudreuil and Kinga Dobrzychi-Zuromski.
Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.