Justin Patrick and his Cumberland teammates host Middletown in their Division I playoff opener on Tuesday afternoon. (photo/Ernest A. Brown)
For some high school sports like baseball and softball, the road to postseason glory begins this week. For other sports such as lacrosse, the action continues with teams setting their sights on reaching the finals, set for next weekend at Rhode Island College.
With the exception of softball, all of the brackets have been released. In an exercise geared toward setting the record straight, we present a brief overview of whatâ€™s in store for the local teams fortunate enough to still be competing in meaningful games at this time of year.
Play in this double-elimination regional qualifying format commences Tuesday afternoon with eight Division I games. Cumberland and Lincoln are grouped in the same region, meaning thereâ€™s a chance these I-North rivals could cross paths at some point.
The Clippers, seeded eighth among the 16 qualifiers, host No. 9 Middletown. Lincolnâ€™s reward for sneaking into the postseason as the No. 16 seed is a date with North Providence, the top overall seed. First pitch for both games is set for shortly after 4 p.m.
Cumberland did not play Middletown during the regular season while Lincoln and North Providence will square off for the third time. The Cougars took both games by scores of 6-3 (April 13) and 6-1 (May 14).
Regardless of how things play out Tuesday, all Division I teams will return to action Thursday with higher seed serving as the home team.
Play for most Division II squads gets under way Wednesday. The one exception is the game that features the most local flavor with No. 13 seed North Smithfield traveling to face fourth-seeded Woonsocket. That game is on tap for Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Barry Field. Part of the Region II faction, the Northmen and Villa Novans met twice during the regular season with Woonsocket winning on both occasions â€“ 4-3 on April 3 and 3-0 on May 2.
In a Region III scheduled for Wednesday, third-seeded Tolman plays host to No. 14 Hope in a matchup of II-Central rivals. The division champion Tigers swept the season series with both games unfolding in decidedly different fashion â€“ 8-5 on April 11 and 22-3 on May 11.
In Region IV, No. 15 Burrillville travels to No. 2 Prout, a squad that has appeared in the last four title series.
For those curious about what lies ahead once regional play is through, the Final Four in Division I gets underway June 7 at West Warwickâ€™s McCarthy Stadium, with Division II teams taking the field the following day at the same venue. The finals in each division are June 13-15 at McCoy Stadium.
Mount St. Charles earned a spot in the Division II semifinals after defeating The Prout School, 12-10, in the quarters. In order to reach the finals, the sixth-seeded Mounties will have to navigate past No. 2 South Kingstown in a game set for Thursday night at Curtis Corner Middle School. East Greenwich and PCD make up the other side of the bracket.
There will be a local team representing the Blackstone Valley in the finals, as Cumberland and Lincoln lock horns in a Division II semifinal tilt set for Wednesday afternoon at Tucker Field. The top-seeded Clippers and No. 4 Lions took care of business in their respective semifinal contests to set up this much-anticipated contest. Cumberland and Lincoln ranked first and second, respectively, in goals scored among II-North outfits with the Clippers capturing both regular season contests.
The victor of the Cumberland-Lincoln tilt will face the surviving team of the Narragansett-Tiverton matchup Saturday afternoon at RIC.
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The two-day, 36-hole state tournament gets underway Tuesday morning at Cranston Country Club. Lincoln and Mount St. Charles are the only local teams to feature a six-player lineup, the result of each squad finishing 13-1 in the North during the regular season.
From an individual standpoint, keep an eye on MSC senior Brad Auclair, who tees off at 10:06 a.m.