The championship watch is on

Doing a little post-Memorial Day weekend cleaning around the office, and here are some thoughts, unused notes, and emails I read that I’m going to squish into a blog post …

• Best local bets to capture championships these next two weeks?

In softball, Scituate’s an easy lock to win the Division III title – the Spartans are currently 17-0 and has outscored their opposition, 227-23, and all signs are pointing to North Smithfield vs. Mount Saint Charles in a slugfest for the Division II crown.

In boys’ volleyball, it would be a huge surprise if Mount Saint Charles and South Kingstown weren’t facing each other on Saturday night at Brown University for the state championship. Both teams are 17-1 and recorded 3-0 victories over each other on their respective home courts during the regular season. Prediction? Mount in five entertaining sets.

In Saturday afternoon’s RIIL Track & Field Championships at Brown Stadium, this area could see as many as seven different athletes winning state championships. Ponaganset hammer thrower Gianna Rao is a very big favorite to win her event, Lincoln thrower Samantha Andrews should be good for at least two state titles, and Woonsocket’s talented trio of Jared Briere, Dilyn Cote, and Jacob Greenless will also have a say in who wins the boys’ hammer event. Greenless is also the defending state champion in the discus.

In the other events, keep an eye on Smithfield’s Grace Beaudry in the girls’ hurdles and Alex Guertin in the girls' pole vault, North Providence’s Nathan Coogan in the boys’ 800, and Woonsocket’s Quinn Harlan in the girls’ 100-yard dash. And of course, all eyes will be on the Smithfield girls’ team as it attempts to capture its third straight team title. (The picture above is last year’s championship team.)

In baseball, there something to like about Cumberland and its chances to be there at the end battling for the D-I title, while in Division II, expect Scituate and/or Ponaganset to be at McCoy Stadium in two weeks playing for the championship.

• Speaking of Saturday's state track meet, it will be the last one in the spectacular 42-year career of Cumberland High boys' cross country and track and field coach Tom Kenwood, who plans to retire after this fall's cross country season. A special ceremony honoring Kenwood will take place during the cross country season, most likely before the Clippers' Northern Division dual-meet finale at the Monastery.

• Mount Saint Charles’ Joey Barter and Ponaganset’s Billy Butler will be among four high school baseball players from Rhode Island that will take part in the New England Home Run Derby Championship on Saturday at Fenway Park during that day’s John Hancock Fenway Fantasy Day. Both placed in the top four during a home run derby that was held on May 13 at McCarthy Field. Barter scored 39 points and Butler had 26. The winner was Bishop Hendricken’s Andrew Flint, who totaled 43.

• North Smithfield High senior Sean Murphy, a three-sport standout who was the goaltender on last winter’s Northmen boys’ hockey team, will be among the “unsung heroes” that will be recognized at the R.I. Reds Heritage Society's annual reunion on Sunday, Aug. 6, at Goddard Park in Warwick. Murphy will receive the Gil Mayer Award that the Heritage Society presents to goalies.

• Their collegiate careers ended last year, but Lincoln’s Ed Cummins and Chepachet’s Sadie Campanella recently received one more athletic honor at Rhode Island College’s annual Cap and Gown ceremony. Cummins, a 2012 graduate of Lincoln High who was an All-American thrower on the Anchormen’s men’s track and field team, received the John E. Hetherman Award, and Campanella, a 2012 graduate of Ponaganset High who was a standout on the women’s tennis team, was awarded the Helen M. Murphy award. Both awards are based not only on athletic prowess, but also values community and campus involvement.

• Strangest roster I received during the spring season: the Moses Brown boys’ lacrosse roster. It had the players’ name, class years, positions – and their parents’ first names.

• Former St. Raphael Academy head softball coach Mo Jackson, who won six state titles with the Saints before retiring as Shea High’s head coach five years ago, is back in the game as the pitching coach of Durfee High School in Fall River, Mass., which two weeks ago, captured the Big 3 Conference regular-season championship by sweeping their home-and-away series with Brockton and New Bedford.

• Speaking of Massachusetts softball, the best pitching performance of the season by a high school pitcher in southeastern New England? Easily the one turned in two weeks ago by Norton junior pitcher Kelly Nelson, who threw a perfect game in a non-league game against Somerset/Berkley that saw her strike out 20 of the 21 batters she faced.


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