For the first time since the 2019-20 academic year, there will be an MIAA state tournament. The drought ends with the return of high school spring sports to the Tri-Town area after the season was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For some Old Rochester Regional and Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical student-athletes, it will be their first opportunity to play high school sports in two years. Others are rolling into the spring from Fall II on little to no rest.
While the state tournament is back for all spring sports, there will be a significant change to the season-ending event for 2021. All schools will be eligible to play in the tournament this year. Schools will merely need to decide whether or not they want to participate. The deadline for notify the MIAA is June 1.
Given the competitive nature of both ORR and Old Colony athletic programs, the schools still expect to be well represented this spring. Below is a look at some of the ORR and Old Colony teams preparing for an abbreviated spring schedule.
Old Rochester Regional Baseball
As is the case every spring, ORR baseball is always going to be a tough team in the South Coast Conference. The stress of qualifying for the state tournament isn’t there, but that does not change the goal for the Bulldogs.
“I want the kids to have a good experience, especially the upperclassmen,” coach Steve Carvalho said. “Try to get kids consistent playing time and feel good about being out there.
“With that being said, the Bulldogs compete in the SCC. We’re still going to be putting a good competitive team on the field. Once they say, ‘Play ball,’ we’re going to be doing our best to execute and be successful.”
As for ORR’s upperclassmen, the senior class features Steven Carvalho, Curtis Briggi, Joe Dumas, Chris Gauvin, Anthony Steele, and Griffin Henriques. Juniors Lucas Mello and Zack Matson should lead the pitching staff this season and next, with classmates Owen Bates, Damon Smead, and Lucas McElroy also expected to contribute in 2021. ORR also hopes to get Ethan McElroy back from his elbow injury before the end of the season.
The Bulldogs open the season with a Thursday-Friday (May 20-21) back-to-back. Both games are at 3:45 pm and at home, starting with Seekonk, then Fairhaven.
Old Colony Baseball
The Cougars are off to an 0-1 start after losing to Diman Vocational on May 14, but the team is prepared for some ups and downs this season. Like other spring programs, Old Colony is dealing with the fact so many of its players lost a year of development.
“We’ve got an inexperienced baseball team,” coach Craig Lincoln said. “It’s almost like going back to start. I’m starting kids who have never played a high school baseball game at all, never mind a varsity game.”
Seniors Ryan McGuiggan and Reese Vandal are the names to watch at Old Colony this season, along with juniors Chris Hedlund and Kyle St. Jean.
Following a May 18 home game against Bishop Connolly, the Cougars visit Atlantis Charter at 4:00 pm on Thursday, May 20. They then host Diman in a rematch at 7:00 pm on Friday, May 21, at Pope Park in Acushnet.
Old Rochester Regional Softball
Meaghan Dufresne is set to play for Southern Maine’s softball program next year, likely as a catcher. However, after playing shortstop last season for the Bulldogs, the senior will now take on the role of pitcher because ORR is lacking in that department.
“We are in a total rebuilding year,” coach Donald DiBiaso said. “We don’t have any pitching, and Meaghan volunteered to do that. She’s sacrificing herself – she’s a phenomenal young lady. But I’m in a rut this year without pitching.”
Senior classmates Carly Drew and Reily Veilleux will continue to power the offense alongside Dufresne.
Following a May 19 season opener at Seekonk, the Bulldogs visit Fairhaven on Friday, May 21, at 3:45 pm.
Old Colony Softball
Diman handed the young Cougars a sizable loss in their first game of the season on May 14, but coach Brandon Mendez is not discouraged.
“I have two seniors with significant varsity experience, the rest of them were all JV players as sophomores so there’s a lot of teaching going on there – just to make the jump up,” Mendez said. “Then I inherited some young, significantly good softball players.”
Junior Abby Orzechowski is Old Colony’s starting pitcher. Senior Ally Pompeo will continue to lead off for the Cougars and patrol the outfield with fellow senior Felicity Cabral. Old Colony up-and-comers to keep an eye on are sophomores Sam Tavares, Felicity Kulak, and Allison Bumpus, as well as freshman Angel Polangcos.
Following a May 18 home game against Bishop Connolly, the Cougars go up against Diman again on Friday, May 21, this time in Fall River at 3:30 pm.
By Nick Friar