Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 03-28-2019

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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Smithfield Scituate Foster Glocester Edition Sports & Recreation valleybreeze.com @ MARCH 28-APRIL 3, 2019 SCITUATE – Despite fielding a young, inexperienced club last year, the Scituate High baseball team made the Division II playoffs for the sixth straight season and will return a num- ber of players from that team this spring. And the Spartans will take the field in a new-look Division II, which not only won't contain their two neighboring rivals, Ponaganset and Smithfield, but will also house two subdivisions that will feature 10 teams in each of them and send each sub- division's top seven finishers to the playoffs. The Rhode Island Interscholastic League realigned the three divisions at the end of last year, and D-II jug- gernauts Ponaganset, which won the championship in 2016 and '17, and Chariho, which captured last year's title, moved up to D-I, as did Smithfield, which volunteered to go up. Teams from D-III, including last season's champion, Mount Pleasant, and two-time D-III finalist North Smithfield, also jumped up to D-II, while a few other teams from D-I, which also split into two 10-team sub- divisions, moved down. Scituate will play in the Division II-B ranks, which contains mostly teams from the northern part of the state, such as Mount Saint Charles, Woonsocket, North Smithfield, St. Raphael Academy, and North Providence; Providence schools Classical, Mount Pleasant, and Wheeler, and distant Westerly. Scituate head coach Dave Hanson said his team has not faced North Providence, which is down from D-I, in the time that he has been in charge of the Spartans' program. He noted that Mount Saint Charles is always good, Wheeler has a lot of returners, and Woonsocket was a playoff team last year. They will not face longtime foe Tolman, which is in the II-A sub- division. Another difference is the schedule. "We will be playing teams back to back now," Hanson said. "So if we play a team Monday, we will see them again on Wednesday. That way, a team won't always see the other's number one pitcher. I think this is a great thing the league has done." As always, Hanson thinks D-II will be tough and competitive, and he said he is looking forward to the changes. The season officially opens for the Spartans next Wednesday, April 3, when they visit Classical, and then they will host Classical two afternoons later when they show off their "new" ballpark at Manning Field. The field was dug up, new sod was put in, and problem areas where rain and water puddled were fixed. The team has been outside for its work- outs, but has taken baby steps near the field to make sure it's settled and stays good. "We had the makeover in the fall," Hanson said. "It's never looked better since I've been here." As for this season's team, the Spartans graduated three seniors, but have seven returning players who saw varsity time. There are four seniors, including the team's co-captains, four- year starters Max Pierce and Chris St. Pierre. Pierce is the Spartans' number one pitcher and will start at shortstop on the days he is not on the hill. St. Pierre, who will see time on the mound in relief, returns as the second baseman. "They will hold down the middle of the infield for us," Hanson added. "I'm expecting big things from them. They will be two catalysts." The pitching staff will also return junior Logan Butkins, and Hanson noted that sophomore Ben DeAngelis is in the mix as a third starter. As for the bullpen, juniors Anthony Carnevale and Joe Angelino and sophomore Thomas DiChiaro will also see time, as well as maybe a few freshmen, Hanson said. Positions are not set in stone, but Hanson said he has a pretty good idea of who will play where, especially in the infield. Butkins will play first when he's not pitching, St. Pierre and Pierce will be in the middle of the dia- mond, and Angelino will play third. Senior Tyler McNamara will see time at short when Pierce is pitching. Junior Evan Pendergast returns behind the plate. The outfield is a BREEZE PHOTO BY KAYLA PANU All eyes will be on Scituate senior pitcher/shortstop MAX PIERCE as he begins his fourth season in the Spartans' starting lineup. The Spartans will begin their Division II schedule next week with back-to-back games against Classical. New-look D-II awaits Scituate Baseball team kicks off season next Wednesday against Classical By KAYLA PANU Valley Breeze & Observer Sports Writer kayla@valleybreeze.com See SPARTANS, Page 18 We're close, just 15 minutes from Providence off Rt. 146. 152 School St., North Smithfield Open 6 days: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. We speak "cat." (401) 762-2400 • nriah.com Cat have a language all their own. Fortunately, we speak it too. Visit our full-service feline-loving animal hospital with a team approach to quality veterinary care. 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