Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 03-27-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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North Providence Edition Sports & Recreation MARCH 27-APRIL 2, 2019 @ Expectations run high for Cougars Blessed with experience, softball team pursues top-four finish in D-I By ERIC BENEVIDES Valley Breeze Sports Editor NORTH PROVIDENCE – When the North Providence High softball team returned to the Division I circuit two years ago after spending a decade in the RIIL's second division, the Cougars took the field with a young lineup that was dominated by sopho- mores and freshmen, yet qualified for the state playoffs. Last season, the Cougars sported the D-I's only non-senior roster, but again, that didn't prevent them from returning to the postseason. But this year, the script has dramati- cally flipped for the Cougars. With a quartet of four-year starters and four more three-year starters returning, the Cougars may have the most experi- enced ballclub in the entire state. And with a high number of veterans comes high expectations with this sea- son's team, including what NP head coach Mike Tuorto hopes is a deep run in the postseason and possibly a chance to play for a championship at Rhode Island College. "The top four seeds get byes into the double-elimination round (of the playoffs), and that's our goal, to be a top-four seed," he noted. "This is something that we've built for, going back four years ago, when most of these girls came in as freshmen. I know that's a lofty goal and a high expectation, but I think we can do it." Tuorto talked about a few topics during a break in his schedule on Monday afternoon, and one thing he discussed was the RIIL's offseason realignment, which not only demoted Woonsocket, Toll Gate, Tolman, Bay View, and Cranston East to Division II, but also brought up D-II champion Prout, North Smithfield, Mount Saint Charles, and Barrington from there. The realignment also divided the D-I's 16 teams into four subdivisions and put the Cougars in arguably the toughest of the four with La Salle, Chariho, and Lincoln. "Looking around the landscape of the state, there are a lot of good teams in Division I this year, but I think we have the strongest subdivision," Tuorto remarked. "In my opinion, La Salle, Chariho, and our team are three BREEZE PHOTOS BY ERIC BENEVIDES Above, North Providence senior catcher JESSICA RIZZO, who is a four-year starter, hit nine home runs last season and was a Second- Team All-State selection. Right, North Providence junior ace pitcher HANNAH DOORLEY gets ready to fire a pitch to the plate. See SOFTBALL, Page 14 2044 Smith St., North Providence, RI (401) 231-2370 fax (401) 232-9220 Congratulations! You're Engaged! Come see the largest selection of tuxedos and accessories in RI for all your formal wear needs! Ask about our Wedding Specials Ask about our Wedding Specials Ask about our Wedding Specials

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