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Wednesday, April 6, 2011
New England Roundup: Rhode Island

By Mike Scandura

After dominating Division I boys’ hockey for decades, Mount St. Charles now is taking a run at Division I baseball.

Rhode IslandMount won the last two Division II state championships but is moving up to Division I this season where it will take on the likes of long-time powers such as Hendricken, St. Raphael and La Salle.

Mount coach Tom Seaver (no relation to the Hall of Fame pitcher) stated the obvious when he said “It starts with pitching … pitching and defense.”

When it comes to pitching, Mount already has an ace in 6-6 lefthander Garrett Hayward who was 10-0 last season.

Hayward, who plays outfield when he’s not pitching, is one of six players who return from last year’s team that was 17-1.

The others include shortstop Mike Hagerman, center fielder Tim Doyle, catcher Derek Deschene, pitcher Collins Utterman and outfielders Danny O’Brien and Trevor Plante.

Seaver also will look for production from third baseman Tyler Eeffert, who will bat cleanup, and Bill Campbell who’ll bat third and play second base.

The Mounties will play in Division I-North which could be the toughest of the three divisions that comprise Division I.

“There aren’t any weak sisters in our division,” said Lincoln coach Ed Hunt. “I think we have the toughest division from top to bottom whereas in the other divisions, they’re more balanced this year.”

Here’s one reason why I-North could be brutal: it includes four private schools – La Salle, Moses Brown and St. Raphael besides Mount St. Charles.

“You can say what you want about Mount because they’ve played in Division II,” said Hunt. “But I think they’re as strong as any team in this division.”

It wouldn’t be a reach to say as Ryan O’Dell goes so will go Lincoln.

O’Dell, the Lions’ number one pitcher and shortstop, hit .431 last year when the team went 11-7.

St. Ray’s, which is coming off three down seasons (by the Saints’ standards) last won in double digits in 2007. With seniors Alex Collette and Ty Karalis plus promising sophomore Zack Mitsmenn at the top of the roster, look for coach Tom Sorrentine’s team to bounce back.

DON’T OVERLOOK DIVISION II
While Division I teams tend to grab most of the headlines, quality baseball also is played in Division (just ask Mount’s opponents each of the last two seasons).

Perhaps the early-season favorite is Tolman, a school that’s won 34 games over the last three years and returns a host of experienced players.

This list includes seniors Troy Sawyer and Chris Messier plus juniors Brandon Gagne and Zach Taber.

But arguably the division’s top player could be Cranston West catcher Jeff Diehl, a 2010 Second Team All-State selection who’ll be playing his college baseball next season at the University of Rhode Island.

North Smithfield also could be primed to make a run at another title. The Northmen, who won the 2008 crown before they were unseated by Month, will be led by Peter Mancini and Connor Naradowy.

“REBEL POWER”
When it comes to schools that have dominated a particular sport, place South Kingstown at the top of the list, in Division I boys’ tennis.

Coach Andy Carr’s Rebels haven’t lost a match since 2007 when it lost two. Moreover, the Rebels have been undefeated in state tournament play since – catch this – 1998.

To say it could be more of the same in 2011 would be an understatement.

For starters, Carr returns First Team All-Stater Tim Putero plus Mike Mulroy, who’s moved up from the state championship doubles team to number three singles.

South Kingstown’s primary competition could come from Barrington, who was defeated by the Rebels in the Division I team finals last year.

Barrington returns two All-State players – Eric Pierce (First Team) and John Bogdanovic (Second Team).

Cumberland, who was undefeated each of the last two years in Division II, has bumped up to Division I but must compensate for the loss of its No. 1 singles player, All-State selection Alex Werchadlo.

PURE GOLD
Every year the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame announces its Golden Dozen – the 12 best senior football student-athletes.

At the risk of stating the obvious, academic accomplishments weigh as much as what these young men do on the field.

The 2010 Golden Dozen includes East Providence’s Dana Andrade, Middletown’s Rico McCray, Hendricken’s Ethan Ferreira, Woonsocket’s Jessie Charette, Toll Gate’s Zach Furtado, La Salle’s Mike McDermott, Chariho’s Chris Cole, North Kingstown’s Eric Holtzman, Cranston East’s Ed McGrath, Mount Pleasant’s Michael Minogue, Portsmouth’s Dennis Morel and Cranston West’s Cody Nadeau.

WILLETT OFF TO MARIST COLLEGE
Portsmouth High senior Ben Willett, the 2010 Rhode Island Gatorade Football Player of the Year, will be suiting up next fall for Marist College.

Willett played quarterback and defensive back for the Patriots, who advanced to the Division I Super Bowl last year for the first time in 10 years.

Among other things, Willett passed for nine touchdowns, ran for nine scores and made 91 tackles.

CARTER-WILLIAMS, MANNIX EARN BASKETBALL HONORS
St. Andrew’s School senior Michael Carter-Williams and Barrington High senior Kelly Mannix have been named the 2010-11 Gatorade Rhode Island Boys’ Basketball and Girls’ Basketball Players of the Year.

Carter-Williams, who will be playing college ball next season at Syracuse, averaged 23.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and five assists per game. He also was the first Rhode Islander ever selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game.

Mannix averaged 15.4 points and 12.5 rebounds while leading the Eagles to an 18-0 regular season record in Division I.

She’ll be playing college ball next season at Adelphi University.

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.