When the first round of the MIAA Baseball Division 1 Tournament kicks off on Sunday, it will do so with a number of teams capable of bringing home the trophy.
While top-seeded Franklin looked like the odds-on favorite just a few short weeks ago, contenders have emerged that are more than capable of knocking the Panthers off the throne. Doing so will not be easy as the Panthers are paced by ace Alfred Mucciarone, shortstop Henry DiGiorgio, and center fielder Ryan Gerety. Defending champion No. 2 Taunton closed the year with six straight wins and has UMass Amherst bound third baseman Brendan Sullivan to go with shortstop Dawson Bryce. Ryan MacDougall at first base is one of the top left-handed power bats in the Commonwealth.
It's impossible to look past the season No. 3 Westford Academy has put together. The Grey Ghosts enter the tournament a perfect 18-0 on the heels of a dynamic 1-2 pitching duo in Jake Cullen and Matt Morash. The two have combined to allow just four earned runs this year.
The Catholic Conference does not enter the tournament with the same amount of pizazz as in years past, but should not be overlooked. Fifth-ranked Xaverian has won three championships under head coach Gerry Lambert for a reason and took home the league crown. Just behind them is No. 6 St. John's Shrewsbury, who boasted an impressive 18-4 record with three of its four losses coming to the aforementioned Hawks and top-seeded Franklin.