SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

June 21, 2013

Early tournament ousters for local squads this spring

It was a tough year to be a North Shore softball team in this spring’s postseason dance.

Seven of our Salem News area teams made it into the state tournament — but all were eliminated after their first game.

Danvers was the top seed in a 12-team Division 2 North field, but was upset by Tewksbury in extra innings in the quarterfinals. The other local squad that was higher seeded than its opponent, No. 6 Peabody, was blanked by an 11th seeded Acton-Boxboro team that wound up reaching the sectional semifinals.

It begs the question: do our local teams see enough variety and competition during their regular season in order to get them properly prepared for the playoffs?

It’s most definitely a topic that’s up for debate; there’s some talk about reorganizing the Northeastern Conference by possibly a few new schools in the coming years, including the possible addition of another Div. 1 school in Masconomet. Without diving too much into the politics, it seems as though all of the local teams would benefit from such additions, not just in softball but in soccer and baseball as well.

The new proposal would also allow for teams to have more non-league matchups in the regular season schedule. It’s a chance for the NEC softball teams to play stronger opponents such as St. Mary’s and/or Concord-Carlisle in preparation for the state tournament.

Bishop Fenwick is one of those teams that benefits from being in a strong conference. The Crusaders play the likes of St. Mary’s, Arlington Catholic, Archbishop Williams and Austin Prep in the Catholic Central League; by facing top talent during April and May, they’re better prepared when the June playoffs roll around.

It’s definitely something to think about during the offseason.

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