Last week on Twitter, I saw an interesting topic to be discussed.
Pilgrim football head coach Blake Simpson posted saying that he felt that the high school football state championships should no longer be held at Cranston Stadium as they are each year. He suggested having them moved to a college facility to give kids that big-time atmosphere.
I really don’t mean any offense to our Cranston readers out there, but I totally agree.
I love Cranston Stadium. It’s well-kept with plenty of seating, abundant parking, centrally located in the state, I totally understand why it is the host site.
However, so many sports compete in the state championship in college arenas, and football should be no different.
Hockey gets Providence College, basketball gets Boss Arena, softball gets Rhode Island College, baseball gets McCoy, so many of these sports get that big-arena feel and atmosphere.
Why not football?
Between the football championships, the normal football schedule, as well as the other sports that take place at Cranston Stadium, it seems like pretty much every high schooler in Rhode Island competes there at one point or another. Not literally, of course, but a pretty high percentage.
Again, this take has nothing to do with Cranston Stadium, it’s more about the other places.
Imagine a night game under the lights at URI’s Meade Stadium, in that beautiful facility? Or seeing an afternoon Super Bowl at Brown? I love that Ivy League atmosphere and that would be a terrific event to watch. Bryant also has a great facility.
This is a lighter topic for me, it is not like I have this burning desire to take the Super Bowls away from Cranston Stadium. It is just a thought, something to chew on moving forward. Again, Cranston Stadium is historic, in great shape and provides all the necessary amenities to effectively host big events, but how exciting would it be for the kids and fans to take the field at one of these larger facilities?
Speaking of championships at college facilities, I am super excited for next month’s softball championships at Rhode Island College.
Last week I had the pleasure of covering the Pilgrim-La Salle game in Providence. Both teams are Division I powers with championship aspirations, and the visiting Pats cruised to a 10-2 win.
Any team in Division I can be beat on any day, so it was not a shocking result, but an 8-point win over the Rams is certainly impressive.
Alyssa Twomey was an All-State player last year as a sophomore and this spring as a junior, I think the case can be made that she is the best overall player in the state.
Twomey did what she seems to always do… she took the game over against La Salle. First inning, she hits a two-run homer to centerfield. Then in the circle, she was lights out for six of the seven innings she pitched. Against a lineup as deep and experienced as La Salle’s, that is no easy feat.
The Division I softball race is always one of my favorites to follow each year. If I had to rank, I’d say it’s 1) football, 2) basketball, 3) softball.
What I love about Division I softball is that these teams are all pretty similar in terms of strength… the top four or five teams, there usually is very little separation. Seedings don’t matter a whole lot, it really boils down to who the best team is in the playoffs.
Look at last year; Pilgrim looked like the odds on favorite to win it all. In my eyes, if it was not Pilgrim, then it certainly had to be St. Ray’s.
In the end, it was Coventry, and those girls really did appear to be the best team at the end of the day.
This race is shaping up to be another dogfight. Pilgrim, La Salle, Coventry, Bay View appear to be the frontrunners, but teams like Cranston West, St. Ray’s and Moses Brown are not far behind them. It should be a blast to watch, especially once we actually do get to RIC and see the gauntlet played out.
In terms of Division II, I’m thrilled to see Toll Gate having the year that it is having to this point. The Titans are right in the thick of things with East Greenwich, West Warwick and Ponaganset. Mt. Hope, Westerly and Prout are also on tears in the other side of Division II.
Admittedly, I am not as familiar with the other teams in Division II. Toll Gate made the playoffs last year, but it still felt like it was a step away from being a true contender. The Titans took that step forward this season, so I am looking forward to getting familiar with those other clubs.
Two playoff brackets to follow in June for softball? Sign me up.
Even beyond Pilgrim and Toll Gate, both Cranston West and Johnston are very much alive in their divisions. They are both in the same boat… they are each toward the top of that second tier, which is not a bad place to be at this point.
We are getting down to the wire here, so each of these teams needs to finish strong and improve with the little time they have left. You can’t enter the playoffs with holes and issues.
At the end of the day though, each of these teams have improved and have picked up some nice, important wins. It would be foolish to count them out altogether.
Softball is such a fun sport to follow, so I suggest doing so.