Tryouts for spring sports take place at NKHS
North Kingstown High’s baseball program held tryouts last week, and Jamestown’s Stephen Cirella has made the junior varsity team, according to coach Kevin Gormley.
Cirella, a freshman, plays infield and catcher. He will compete in his first high school game on April Fools’ Day, when the Skippers visit Barrington at 4 p.m. The varsity team’s season opener is a week later also against the Eagles. The first pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on April 8.
According to Gormley, the varsity team will be led by five seniors – Chris Hess, Austin Barry, Jason Montanaro, Adam Nabb and Billy Young. All are from North Kingstown.
Hess and Barry played on North Kingstown’s varsity basketball team that went to the state championship earlier this month. Hess, who was a co-captain on the hoops team, has signed with the University of Rhode Island to play baseball, according to Athletic Director Howie Hague. Adam Nabb, another standout on the baseball team, is also a two-sport star – he was the leading scorer on the North Kingstown hockey team that lost in the state tournament’s semifinals.
According to Gormley, North Kingstown’s top pitchers will be Young and Dom Grillo. The manager says Grillo had the strongest arm on the Skippers last year. Also, Gormley says Grillo has an assortment of pitches and is left handed, which can be tough on high school hitters.
“It can be because they don’t see them that often,” he said.
Gormley said he is hopeful the team will make the playoffs. Last year the Skippers went 15- 3. However, Bishop Hendricken continued its domination and won the state title. The Hawks have won four of the last five Division- I championships, and 11 since 1997.
The Skippers will not play Hendricken during the regular season this year, but Gormley says the teams meet in the postseason – hopefully in the finals.
Gormley did not want to make a prediction about how far the Skippers can go in the postseason, but he says having experienced upperclassmen will help with leadership. “This can be a really strong group of seniors who help us have a great year,” he said. “On paper, we look pretty strong. But you have to go out and play the games.”
According to Gormley, all the teams in Division-I South are strong, especially South Kingstown, Middletown, Portsmouth and East Greenwich. He says the Skippers will have plenty of competition for the division title.
“Everyone in our division is pretty tough,” he said.
Most other major spring sports teams also held tryouts last week. Several outstanding athletes will return from last year’s playoff teams.
Golf, track and more
In golf, several islanders will try to lead the Skippers to a state championship. The team finished fourth in the tournament last year but had been hoping for a better result after coming in second the year before. Jamestown’s Owen Heath, Adam Southworth and Alex Burke are on the squad. Justin Pratt, of North Kingstown, is also returning. Both Heath and Pratt were on the basketball team.
In outdoor track, Jamestown’s Ben Stewart, who led the team to the state title last year, is working to recover his winning form. Stewart is a junior.
Coach Charlie Breagy hopes the track and field team can stay healthy for the outdoor season. The indoor team was hampered by injuries and illness during the winter season. Breagy blames some of the injuries on the Skippers being forced to practice on the outdoor track for lack of an indoor facility. But, despite the detriment of being less than 100 percent, the outdoor athletes still turned in an outstanding season – the team finished seventh out of 22 schools in the state championship. Breagy expects to be a contender again this year.
Jamestown’s Garrett Bucklin is returning to the varsity boys’ volleyball team. He is just a junior. Garret is the setter.
According to coach Joanne Fitts, the team will have new look in 2013. Along with Bucklin, the only returned players from last season are seniors Bobby Campbell and Andrew Kurdziel. Fitts was expected to have the roster chosen by late last week.
Also, the unified basketball team has already started playing. According to coach Pete Maroni, the Skippers have already played two games from a seven-game schedule. Kerry Kardosz, a junior special-education student, is playing point guard this year. According to Maroni, Kerry is a playmaker and a good shooter.
“Point guard is a tough position to play,” Maroni said.
North Kingstown High has participated in the unified basketball program for three years. The Rhode Island Interscholastic League and Special Olympics Rhode Island teamed up four years ago to start the unified program. This year, two foreign exchange students are also playing. Both are girls. One is from Italy and the other is from Germany.
“I think everyone’s enjoying it,” he said. “The exchange students are kind of quiet, but they’re feeling it out. We made a big effort to include them.”
The team is 1-1, with a victory in the opener against Exeter-West Greenwich. They lost to Coventry, who Maroni says is an experienced team.
“In the past, we have won a lot of games,” he said. “We haven’t won a championship yet, but that’s not our main goal. We’re trying to get everyone to play.”
Maroni said all the teams automatically make the postseason, and by the time the regular season ends, everyone has had an opportunity to get in the game.
The other teams participating this spring include fast-pitch softball and soccer for the girls, lacrosse and tennis for the boys, and the co-ed sailing team.