Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 11-27-2019

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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Smithfield Scituate Foster Glocester Edition Sports & Recreation valleybreeze.com @ NOVEMBER 27-DECEMBER 4, 2019 NEW YORK – In what's turned into an annual tradition for the Sentinel Striders, the Smithfield-based youth running club will again send a large contingent to the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships. Competing in the Region 1 Championships on Sunday at Sunken Meadow State Park in Long Island, N.Y., not only did the Striders' ages 15-18 and 13-14 boys' teams qualify for the national meet by placing in the top three of their age groups, but several runners also earned individual berths in their respective races. And for the second straight meet, Cumberland's Kiley DeFusco, who attends De La Salle Middle School, convincingly won the girls' 11-12 race by topping a field of 120 runners on the 1.86-mile course in a time of 10:41. Not only was DeFusco's time seven seconds faster than her winning time in the previous week's New England meet at Deerfield Park, but she also topped the runner-up finisher by 17 seconds. Also seizing third place in the boys' ages 8-under 2,000-meter run was Smithfield's Colin Smith, who clocked a time of 9:18 that was two seconds behind the runner-up finisher. The first-place time was eight minutes flat. The Striders' 15-16 team took sec- ond place in its race with 61 points, 24 fewer than first-place Green Mountain Athletic Association of Vermont, and saw Smithfield High junior Ethan Maione lead the way by placing seventh on the 3.1-mile route in 16:54. Two of his classmates also took spots in the top 50: Aidan Sayles placed 20th in 17:39 and Chris Olean finished 48th in 19 minutes. As for the 13-14 team, five Smithfield runners placed in the top 45 to help the Striders score 96 points and capture third place, just six more than the runner-up Nashua (N.H.) PAL Striders. The Waltham (Mass.) Track Club won the meet with 32 points. Smithfield High freshman Elijah Saddlemire took 28th place in the 2.48-mile race in 14:02, and not very far behind him were Cam Maione (31st, 14:07), Grady McGinnis (33rd, 14:10), David Parenteau (42nd, 14:22), and Reilly Bennett (44th, 14:37). Also finishing in the top 25 and qualifying for the national meet were Scituate's Andrew Bettez, who finished 19th in the boys' 9-10's 1.86- mile race (12:03), Smithfield's Will Lally, who placed 22nd in the boys' 8-under race (8:58), and Smithfield's Meaghan Bennett, who was 24th in the girls' 9-10 race (13:07). The national meet will be held on Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Yahara Hills Golf Course in Madison, Wisc. SMITHFIELD – Softball seasons don't get any better than the one Kayla Baptista just wrapped up. This past spring, the Smithfield native and La Salle Academy short- stop led the state in a handful of offen- sive categories in helping lead the Rams to a 21-2 record and their first state championship in 11 years. During the summer and fall, Baptista patrolled the infield for the highly successful R.I. Thunder Gold U18 travel team, and earlier last month, she and her teammates put the finishing touches on a marvelous 32-5-3 fall season. And on Wednesday, Nov. 13, the first official day for student-athletes nationwide to sign National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic and academic careers at Division I col- leges, Baptista made her future plans official by signing with the University of North Carolina. "I'm very happy I'm going there," Baptista said last Friday about her decision to join the Atlantic Coast Conference school, which reached the ACC championship game last spring. "This is definitely where I want to continue my softball career." One of seven players in the country to sign with the Tar Heels, Baptista hopes to make an impact on her new school in the same fashion she's excelled in the past three seasons with the Rams. A three-year starter who is a two- time First-Team All-State player and a Third-Team All-State selection as a freshman, Baptista enjoyed a breakout season as a sophomore. Batting lead- off, she hit .520, scored 20 runs, and added a dozen stolen bases. But last spring, Baptista raised her game to another level. She batted an astounding .688 and collected 33 hits, 19 runs batted in, and 29 runs scored. On the basepaths, she was untouch- able, as she went 34-for 34 in stolen base attempts. And on May 31, when the Rams ended their regular season with a 17-1 mark, she announced her decision on social media to commit to North Baptista inks NLI with North Carolina Smithfield native, La Salle All-State softball player highlights outstanding year with decision to join Tar Heels By ERIC BENEVIDES Valley Breeze & Observer Sports Editor sports@valleybreeze.com Sentinel Striders await return trip to national cross country meet Two boys' teams, several runners qualify for USATF Championships on Dec. 14 Smithfield native and La Salle Academy senior shortstop KAYLA BAPTISTA will be taking her glove and bat to the University of North Carolina softball team after she graduates from high school next spring. 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