Tag: Ben Bilotti ’23
Men’s Hockey Update
by The Cowl Editor on November 4, 2021
No. 8 Ranked Friars Staying in the Moment
The Providence College Men’s Hockey Team began their 2021-22 campaign on an upswing, defeating Army West Point 7-0 in their season opener. Since this victory, they haven’t turned back.
The Providence Friars have an overall record of 5-2 with a conference record of 2-0. Their impressive record has rewarded them with being ranked No. 8 overall in the country.
There have been many positives in the short season, most recently when the Providence Friars took on the No. 8-ranked Denver Pioneers.
The matchup against Denver has been the highlight of PC’s young season. The Friars defeated Denver 6-5 in a late night thriller. In the first period, goalie Jaxson Stauber ’23 was the star of the show. He stopped all 19 shots he faced, including several shots that came during a two-minute, five-on-three power play for the Pioneers. Stauber ended his night with an impressive 39 saves.
The Denver Pioneers scored early and often in the second period. Justin Lee and Cole Guttman gave the Pioneers a quick and early 2-0 lead. The lone highlight from the second period came when Max Crozier ’23 appeared in his first game of the 2021-22 season and scored. Unfortunately for the Friars, Denver scored two more goals in the second period, making it a 4-1 game.
The third period of the game is when things really got exciting. In the first five minutes of the third period, Providence exploded with three goals, including two from Nick Poisson ’24 and one from Jamie Engelbert ’23, who recorded his first goal of the season. Poisson and Engelbert made it a 4-4 game not long into the third period. It had turned into a shootout. Not long after, Denver’s Carter Savoie made it a 5-4 game on a Pioneers power play. Luckily for the Friars, Poisson responded with his own power play goal, tying the game at 5-5.
Brett Berard ’24 scored the game-winning goal with only 1:01 left on the clock. Berard’s sixth goal in six games capped off an amazing PC comeback victory.
Poisson was named the Hockey East Player of the Week on Oct. 25. A native of Vancouver, B.C., Poisson is one of the main reasons Providence was able to make a comeback against Denver. His third period rally against the No. 8-ranked opponent on Friday, Oct. 22 was by far his most impressive game of the season; Poisson had a hat trick and an assist. Poisson leads the Friars in scoring with 10 points, which ranks him second among all Hockey East players.
Another Friars honor was given to Men’s Hockey head coach Nate Leaman and Friar Director of Hockey Operations Theresa Feaster, who were both selected to be a part of the 2022 U.S. National Junior Team. Coach Leaman will return as the head coach of the team while Feaster returns as a video coach. The U.S. National Junior Team will take part in the 2022 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship on Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. Team USA looks to collect their sixth medal in seven years.
Looking back at the Men’s Hockey Team, the Friars currently sit in second place in the Hockey East Standings, only behind the University of Connecticut. The Friars look to move up in the standings this upcoming week as they have three matchups against the University of New Hampshire, followed by matchups against University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Connecticut.
Boston University and the University of Connecticut look to be Providence College’s toughest opponents early in the season. UConn is currently 2-1 and Boston University is right behind PC with a record of 2-2.
PC takes on UConn on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Schneider Arena. In order to keep the Huskies at bay, PC will have to keep senior forward Jachym Kondelik under control. Kondelik leads the Huskies with six points. He has two goals and four assists on the season. Another player to keep an eye on is UConn’s rising talent, sophomore forward Ryan Tverberg. The Ontario native sits right behind Kondelik with five points, including three goals and two assists.
The Huskies should not be too much of a challenge for the Friars. When looking at the statistics, one can gather that PC has the advantage. On average, the Friars are scoring four goals per game while the Huskies are only scoring three. The Friars are also well adapting to capitalize during power plays. When given the opportunity to use a power play, the Friars are 10-29 in goal opportunities, while limiting opponents to only three goals in 25 opportunities.
For PC to defeat the University of Connecticut and all other tough opponents, they will have to stick to their game plan and continue to do what they do well. They will most definitely have to continue to capitalize during power plays. Goalie Jaxson Stauber has been performing extremely well all season. The Friars can look to Stauber and a well-rounded defense to limit opposing goals. If the defense does their job, Providence’s top scorers Bernard, Poisson, and Parker Ford ’23 will do their best to give the Friars the advantage.
Make sure to keep up with the PC Men’s Hockey Team; do not miss the great season that awaits!
Minor League Baseball: A Hopeful Start for Change
by The Cowl Editor on October 28, 2021
MLB Providing Housing for Players
Ben Bilotti ’23
On Oct. 17, 2021, ESPN reporter, Jeff Passan, reported that Major League Baseball will now require all teams to provide housing for minor league players starting in 2022. MLB has yet to lay out a formal plan, but many teams are already forming their own arrangements.
Over the years, Minor League Baseball players have complained about rough working and living conditions. Players and fans alike have criticized organizations for low salaries that leave many players living below the poverty line. Low salaries and insufficient housing provisions are the main causes of players living below the poverty line.
This new rule is a huge step for Minor and Major League Baseball. The executive director of Advocates of Minor Leagues, Harry Marino, was quoted saying, “This is a historic victory for Minor League Baseball players.”
This truly is a historic victory; when housing is provided, players are able to focus more on their development on and off the field. The extra money saved can go towards training, healthier meal options, and overall better well-being.
Up until last year, MiLB players were criminally underpaid. One story is of Shane Kelso, a Low-A player in the Los Angeles Angels organization. Kelso retired in the middle of the 2021 season. Kelso claimed that he was losing $1,000 a month and would be broke by the end of the season. Kelso was receiving a salary of $1,600 a month, earning less than $26,225 a year. A person cannot comfortably live with a salary this low.
There is a serious mental strain that comes with living in poverty. Many players live together with four or five roommates in one-person apartments or even camper vans. There are not luxury utilities in the minors like there are in the majors.
Players have to find ways to pay for rent, gas, groceries, and every other necessity. With little money, players often find themselves unable to eat or train right, especially at the lower levels of the minors.
The total cost for a team to provide housing for minor leaguers is less than $1 million. Not all organizations treat their minor league players the same.
For example, this season the Houston Astros provided furnished homes to all of their minor league players. The Astros are the first team to do so, and many believe they paved the way for this new rule. While no other team previously provided housing, the Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Phillies, Nationals, Giants, and White Sox all provide housing stipends, pay for extended spring training, and provide two to four meals per day.
Major League Baseball says they are seven months into a plan that will improve the conditions and pay for minor leaguers. Salaries have already been raised from 38-72 percent for 2021; however, this is still not enough money for some players to live above the poverty line. Providing housing allows more leeway for players to be paid less.
This is just one example of the new rules and programs that Major League Baseball is coming up with to improve the Minor League lifestyle.
Vice President and Special Assistant to the commissioner, Billy Bean, said that MLB is working on a mental health initiative called Ahead the Count. This program will foster dialogue in the clubhouse and provide mental health resources to Minor Leaguers. These are all great steps, but MLB has a long way to go with regard to improving their organization.
Women’s Soccer Update
by The Cowl Editor on October 7, 2021
Friars Picking Up Key Wins
Ben Bilotti ’23
The Providence College Women’s Soccer team is having a very nice season so far. Since the start of the season, the team has improved their record to 6-3-1. This amounts to a winning percentage of .650. The team has been especially successful at home, winning five of their six games.
The Friars’ most recent win came against the Creighton University Blue Jays. This marked Providence’s first win in Big East Conference play. The Friars won the match with a score of 1-0.
Kyla Gallagher ’23 scored the winning goal in the 94 minute of the match. Goalkeeper Emma Bodmer ’24 earned her third shutout of the season. In the match she had four saves. Creighton’s goalkeeper Keelan Terrell had four saves of her own. However, the one goal against would ultimately decide the match and send the Friars home victorious.
Creighton University is currently 6-5-2 on the season and in preseason play looked to be one of the top teams in the Conference. However, in Conference play this season, the Blue Jays are 0-3-1. The Blue Jays’ lone tie in conference play came against Georgetown University, who is currently sitting on top of the standings with a record of 2-0-2.
Providence College took on #23 Georgetown University on Sunday, Oct. 3, drawing 1-1. They did well to silence Hoya junior Gia Vicari, who entered the game having seven goals coming on 11 shots on goal. The Hoyas also had a talented goalkeeper Allie Auger, who has 34 saves and only seven goals against. Friar forward Gillian Kenney ’25 was able to slide one past Auger in the second half to equalize against the Hoyas, only nine minutes after Georgetown took the lead in the second half. The game would end level and was not a bad result on the road against a talented opponent.
The Friars have one of the top goalkeepers in the Big East in Emma Bodmer. Bodmer was named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll on Monday, Sept. 27. For the week Bodmer posted a save percentage of .889. Opponents averaged fewer than one goal against the junior, averaging a 0.48 goal against percentage. In one week, she had eight saves and only one goal allowed. While Bodner has three shutouts in the short season, her shutout against Creighton University was her first individual shutout performance.
This season, Bodmer has a save percentage of .793. She has made 46 saves: only allowing 12 goals in 10 games played. While Georgetown goalkeeper, Allie Auger, has allowed fewer goals against, Bodmer has 12 more saves on the season.
Bodmer has been a very big part of the Friars’ success. She is averaging 1.19 goals against. So far, the sophomore has only allowed more than one goal against twice. The only time this occurred was against No. 5-ranked Wisconsin and No. 22-ranked Rutgers. It’s safe to say when the Friars score two or more goals, they achieve a win with Bodmer in net.
Meg Hughes ’24 and Kyla Gallagher ’24 have been another crucial key to Providence’s success. Hughes has six goals and two assists on the season. Her best performance came against Monmouth University on Sept. 5,, where she led the charge with two goals. The Friars won the match 3-1. Gillian Kenney ’25 also scored her first collegiate goal that match. Gallagher has four goals, and one assist on the season so far. The sophomore’s best performance of the season came against Creighton when she scored the game-winning goal late in the game. Gallagher and Hughes are Providence’s leading goal-scorers thus far.
Providence heads to Villanova, PA to take on the Villanova University Wildcats on Thursday, Oct. 7. In conference play this season, Villanova has come up short with a record of 0-3. The Friars will most certainly look to capitalize and gain some ground in the Big East standings.
After their matchup with the Villanova Wildcats, the Friars will take on Marquette at home on Oct. 10. Then they head to Indianapolis to take on the Butler Bulldogs. Both Butler and Marquette currently sit atop the Friars in the standings. Butler is tied for first along with Georgetown and St. John’s, who all have a conference record of 2-0-2. Marquette sits one place ahead of the Friars with a record of 2-1.
These will be two tough matchups for the Friars. However, do not count them out. Although the team is currently 1-1 in conference play, they showed early that they are a competitive team and are never out of a match.
After their two matches against Marquette and Butler, Providence travels to Queens, NY to take on a tough opponent in first place, St. John’s University. St. John’s looks like they are one of the top teams in the Big East. Like Providence, they play extremely well at home with an overall record of 3-0-2.
The top of the Big East is strong with heavily competitive teams. Strength of schedule does not favor the Providence Friars in the middle of their season. Over their next five matches, the Friars will go up against four of the top teams in the conference. However, the Friars have proven they are a strong and capable squad.
Be sure to mark your calendars for Oct. 21 when the Friars will be playing their Pink Out Game against the University of Connecticut.
by The Cowl Editor on September 30, 2021
What It Means Now for College Athletes
Ben Bilotti ’23
On Jun. 30, the NCAA approved a policy known as names, images, or likeness (NIL), a deal that will allow college athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness.
The president of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, was quoted saying, “This is an important day for college athletes since they are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities.”
Since the approval of the policy, many college athletes all over the country have profited in some way or another. Many athletes are partnering with local small businesses while others are creating their own merchandise lines or getting involved in commercials.
Jackson State defensive end Antwan Owens was the first to take advantage of the new policy. As soon as the clock struck midnight and the policy was official, Owen signed a deal with Three Kings Grooming.
Some believe female athletes will have more chances to profit off of NIL given many of their impressive social media followings.
Hanna and Haley Cavinder, known as the Cavinder twins, are a perfect example of female athletes who have a major opportunity to make the most of the NIL policy.
Across TikTok and Instagram, the twins collectively have over 3.8 million followers. They have since been able to partner with Boost Mobile and Six Star Pro Nutrition.
LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne is another female athlete who is expected to make a lot of money from the NIL rule changes.
She has 4.4 million followers on TikTok and 1.3 million on Instagram. Dunne is likely going to earn more compensation than any other athlete.
In August, Dunne signed to be represented by WME Sports. Not long after, on Sept. 14, she announced her first NIL Brand Deal with an activewear company, Vuori, with whom she will take part in marketing campaigns over the next two years.
The Vuori deal includes promotional photoshoots, social media takeovers, and in-person events. It is rumored that the deal is in the “mid six-figures.” Many believe Dunne will be the first student-athlete to reach $1 million in NIL deals.
Providence College is doing their part to help student-athletes reach their full earning potential.
On Aug. 8, the Providence College Athletic Department launched a program to assist athletes with education, protection, and monetization of their name, image, and likeness.
The platform is called AdvantEdge and is powered by Opendorse. The platform will be administered through the Friar Edge student development program.
PC’s Women’s Basketball head coach Jim Crowley said, “Our players will be positioned well in this new environment with the education and resources they need to build their brand and take advantage of the opportunities that are ahead of them.”
PC’s Men’s Basketball head coach Ed Cooley also stated how pleased he was with the addition of Opendorse.Providence College Men’s Basketball center Nate Watson is a student-athlete who is in a great position to be compensated for his NIL.
Watson has over 51,000 followers on Instagram and over 680,000 followers on TikTok. Watson has already partnered with PSD Underwear and Playmaker. He has also launched an account on Cameo where anyone can request a personalized video from Watson.
The new NIL rule changes are a huge step in the right direction for student-athletes.
Even athletes from smaller schools have the opportunity to be compensated and partner with brands.
These partnerships are expected to be beneficial to both student-athletes and the brands with which they sign; student-athletes will be compensated for their hard work and companies will expand their name-recognition.
The future is bright for NCAA athletes.
Field Hockey Looks to Continue Fast Start
by The Cowl Editor on September 16, 2021
Field Hockey Update and Preview
Ben Bilotti ’23
The Providence College Women’s Field Hockey team is enjoying a strong start to their season. The team won their first two games against Bryant University and Boston University. The Friars outscored their opponents 6-1 in the first two matches. After losing their next two games, they beat Long Island University on Sunday, Sept. 12, 5-2 to improve their record to 4-2.
The Friar’s early success indicates that the team has great potential to make big strides in the BIG EAST Conference. The team currently has the fourth best winning percentage in the league.
In the season opener against Bryant, the Friars set the tone by besting the Bulldogs with a score of 4-0. Roos Michiels ’24 and Celia Preveza ’25 each scored the first goals of their collegiate careers to aid the Friars in their win. Both of the goals were scored in the second quarter. Six Providence players collected at least one point by a goal or assist.
PC continued their success in their second match against Boston University, defeating the squad 2-1. Olivia Ward ‘21GS collected her second goal of the season, giving the Friars an early lead in the second quarter.
The game was a regional battle. It remained scoreless until Ward scored in the second quarter. BU tied it up shortly after that and the game remained tied until Niamh Gowing ’22 scored early in the fourth quarter. The Boston University Terriers pulled their goalie shortly after, but the Friars defended well to hold out for the win.
The Friars collected their fourth win of the season this Sunday when they beat Long Island University 5-2. Ward and Gowing led the charge with two goals each. The match started off fast-paced as LIU scored two goals early in the first and second quarters. Goalkeeper Asia Porter ’24 helped the Friars maintain their late lead with six saves.
Porter has had great success since joining the Friars last season. In the COVID-19-shortened season, Porter had a save percentage of 0.756. She had a career day against Boston College on Apr. 14, notching a career-high 17 saves.
In order to continue with their early success, the Friars will rely on Porter’s goalkeeping ability. With a strong goalie in the net and leading scorers Ward and Gowing at the charge, PC has victory in their sights.
The Friars are in good shape to stay in the top or middle of the pack of the BIG EAST. Their toughest opponents appear to be undefeated Liberty University and Temple University. PC takes on Temple Oct. 8 at Lennon Family Field. They then take on Liberty Oct. 22 at Liberty’s home turf. These two matches will definitely be ones to circle on the calendar.
Providence College’s next match-up is set for Friday, Sept. 17 when they take on Villanova. The Friars will face the Wildcats in Pennsylvania at 5:00 p.m. Villanova is currently 2-4 and will look to inch closer to .500 when they play the Friars. PC will have to watch out for Meghan Mitchell ’24, Villanova’s leading scorer.
Be sure to stay updated on Friars Field Hockey; it looks like a promising year.
by The Cowl Editor on September 3, 2021
The Providence College Men’s Soccer team took on Saint Peter’s University at Chapey Field Sunday, Aug. 29, to improve their record to 2-0-0. Providence College beat Saint Peter’s with a final score of 6-2. Davis Smith ’21GS and Thomas Tuglar ’25 each had a goal and an assist. Miguel Candela ’21 and Brendan McSorely ’24 also each had goals in the match. For the first time since 2011, the Friars scored six goals. The last time was against Seton Hall University.
The Providence College Women’s Soccer team shut out Sacred Heart University on Aug. 25 with a score of 4-0. Fifth-year Amber Birchwell scored early for the Friars. Shortly after, Maria Paveglio ’25 scored her first career goal to make it 2-0. In the second half, Angie Suaza ’23 scored her first career goal, followed by a goal by Kyla Gallagher ’24. Emma Bodmer ’24 earned her first career shutout in net for the Friars. Providence College travels to Piscataway, NJ to take on Rutgers University Sunday, Aug. 29.
The Providence College Field Hockey Team faced Bryant University on Friday, Aug. 27. The Providence Friars bested the Bryant Bulldogs beating them 4-0. Goals were scored in the first, second, and third quarters by Olivia Ward ’21GS, Roose Michiels ’24, and CeliaPreveza ’25. Sunday Aug. 29, the Friars took on Boston University. Providence beat Boston with a score of 2-1. Ward scored early in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter Niamh Gowing ’21 scored to give the Friars the lead back. Sophomore goalkeeper Asia Porter had an impressive second quarter making four saves in the frame.
The Providence College Women’s Volleyball team took on Iona College Aug. 28. The Friars took down Iona winning the match 3 sets to 1. In set on Allison Barber ’21GS led the Friars with 13 assists while Maryanne Boyle ’24 and Shaliyah Rhoden ’25 led the set with fourkills apiece. Iona took the second set of the match, but the Friars would come back to win the third and fourth sets. Barber shined in the third set as well with 10 assists and five digs. In the fourth set, Providence led for the majority. Rhoden recorded seven kills on 10 total attacks, and Barber added 15 assists, while leading the team with seven digs.
Best Friar Moment/Storyline of the Year
by Jack Belanger on May 6, 2021
Providence College Investigates: PC Athletics
Women’s Hockey Makes NCAA
Joseph Quirk ’23
There have been a lot of impactful events that have happened in Providence College Athletics this year, but few are as impactful and program-defining as the PC Women’s Ice Hockey Team’s run to the NCAA tournament. The Friars made the national tournament for just the second time in program history, and their first appearance since the 2004-2005 season when they lost to the University of Minnesota 6-1 in the first round.
That year, the Friars, led by Bob Deraney, went 21-11-5, finished second in Hockey East, and won the Hockey East Conference Championship. But that was then, and now the Friars are under the tutelage of head coach Matt Kelly. In a shortened season caused by COVID-19, Kelly’s squad boasted a 12-8-1 record. The Friars had a fantastic season all around, highlighted by the performances of forwards Bailey Burton ’23, Sara Hjalmarsson ’22, and Caroline Peterson ’22, defenseman Brooke Becker ’24 and Claire Tyo ’24, and goaltender Sandra Abstreiter ’21.
They would ultimately reach the Hockey East Championship game against Northeastern University. The Friars would fall in that game 6-2, but luckily their season would not end there.
The second-place finish at the hands of an elite NU squad would earn the Friars the No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The women’s ice hockey tournament is only eight teams deep, making it incredibly difficult for teams to qualify, and the Friars were just able to edge in at the seven spot. The Northeastern team that had defeated them in the Hockey East Championship would earn the number one seed, and Boston College, who had been upset by the University of Connecticut in the Hockey East Quarterfinals, would round out the Hockey East representation at the tournament. The Friars would match up with the number two seed, and the eventual champions, the University of Wisconsin Badgers.
Unfortunately, the Friars would be blanked 3-0 by the Badgers, who would go on to defeat Northeastern in the National Championship 2-1. While the outcome was not much different than the last time they qualified for the tournament, making the tournament under this new coaching staff and fielding a team capable of doing so is not only the biggest moment of the year for PC Athletics, but also a vital building block for the program for years to come.
With COVID-19 affecting so many sports on campus—limiting teams’ preseasons, practice, and travel, as well as cutting games out of the schedule—many teams struggled to find consistent success this season. However, the women’s hockey team rose above, having one of their most impressive seasons in recent memory, attaining a goal that had only been accomplished once before in program history.
David Duke Enters NBA Draft
Ben Bilotti ’23
Providence College Friars guard David Duke Jr. ’22 has always had a bright future ahead of him. The 21-year-old already has a very impressive resume and is looking to add one more accolade to his growing list. Concluding this year’s college basketball season, Duke declared for the NBA Draft. Overall, Duke’s performance this year and subsequent entry into the NBA Draft is the highlight of the year for Friars athletics.
Duke’s first season for the Friars was not one to scoff at. Heading into the 2018-19 basketball season, Duke was named the Preseason Big East Co-Freshman of the Year. In 34 games he averaged 7.1 points and made 38.7 percent of attempted field goals, an impressive line for a freshman. Concluding Duke’s inaugural season, he earned the team’s Coca-Cola Most Promising Prospect Award.
David Duke’s success continued in his sophomore campaign. On top of being awarded the team’s Ryan Gomes Most Improved Player Award, and being named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-District I team, Duke also competed as a member of Team USA in the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, where he helped the squad earn a bronze model. During PC’s season he improved his field goal percentage to 40.9% while making 42% of his threes.
Duke’s success peaked in his final season. The junior ranked first in the Big East in minutes played, averaging 37.1 minutes per game. He ranked second in the league in assists and finished second on the Friars for scoring. On Feb. 24, Duke scored his 1,000th career point. On that day he became the 52nd Friar to reach the 1,000-career-point mark. He earned USBWA All-District I honors again and was named to the All-Big East Second Team.
Despite all the success on the court, what makes David Duke’s looming selection in the draft so special is that he grew up right in Providence, RI and has always given back to his community. This past February, Duke helped to publicize a GoFundMe that he and his classmates made for a class project, with the goal of raising $5,000. The money donated would go to Crossroads Rhode Island, the leader in homeless services organizations in Rhode Island. Duke and his classmates surpassed the goal of $5,000 with ease, raising over $14,000.
The NBA Draft will take place on July 29. Many suspect Duke will be selected in the 60-player, two-round draft, and coming off a breakout junior campaign, Duke certainly has much to look forward to in his basketball career. Friar fans will be glued to the TV, waiting to see where Duke lands next as he leaves behind a substantial legacy in his city.
MLB The Show Gives Pitchers a New Way to Prepare
by Jack Belanger on April 22, 2021
Chicago’s Giolito Uses Popular Video Game To Study Opponents
By Ben Bilotti ’23
The 2021 Major League Baseball season is off and running, and so far, it has lived up to the hype. Players and fans alike are excited to be back at the ballpark. It is still early in the season, but the level of competition thus far has been high.
Despite being far too early in the season to determine the game of the year, the recent matchup between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox will certainly be a contender. On April 13, the two teams faced off with each throwing their aces. The Tribe threw 2020 Cy Young Award winner, Shane Bieber, while the White Sox threw their ace, Lucas Giolito.
If you love a pitcher’s duel, then this game was for you. Both players pitched extraordinarily well. In a dominant showing, Bieber threw nine innings and struck out 11, allowing just three hits and one walk. Giolito countered by going seven innings, striking out eight batters, and only giving up three hits and two walks.
One key to Giolito’s success is a surprising one: video games. Specifically, MLB The Show, the most popular MLB video game on the market.
The 26-year-old ace has done several interviews with Rob Friedman, the Pitching Ninja. In these interviews Giolito breaks down his impressive pitching repertoire and pitch grips. He was also featured in a recent episode of the popular YouTube series Baseball Bits.
The format of Baseball Bits is unique as it uses a video game aesthetic to break down interesting baseball storylines. It is the perfect mix of baseball statistics and fun. During his sit-down, Giolito was asked a question which first surfaced on the internet last season: “You use MLB The Show as preparation sometimes, can you talk about that?” Giolito lit up and responded, “Yeah, [before] pretty much every start.”
During the video, Giolito talks in detail about his preparation for his starts. Every pitcher on a Major League roster is given scouting reports. These reports are extremely detailed and include information on everything from what pitch a batter does not like to what pitch a batter will swing at 60% of the time on a 1-2 count.
Indeed, it is an overload of information. Giolito explained that he has never enjoyed studying, dating back to his time in grade school. To maximize his preparation, the ace pitcher had to get creative, taking his friend’s suggestion to utilize MLB The Show to prepare for starts. He now does exactly that before every game.
The day before a start, Giolito sits down with his scouting reports and fires up his PlayStation 4. He does his best to project what the starting lineup for both squads will be the next day. Then he loads up a game, playing as himself pitching against his upcoming opponents. As Giolito mows down virtual batters, he takes notes and uses his scouting reports. To make the game more realistic, he goes through both rosters and updates all of the settings and presets.
Although his method is definitely abnormal, Giolito certainly has the stats to back it up. Since he began studying his scouting reports on the virtual diamond in 2019, his numbers have been stellar. His ERA is 3.38, and he has thrown four complete games, including a no-hitter. Based on Giolito’s success, perhaps more pitchers will soon begin to incorporate MLB The Show into their game day routine.
PCI: Who Will Win the 2021 World Series?
by Jack Belanger on April 22, 2021
Providence College Investigates: The MLB
The New York Yankees
By Margaret Maloney ’23
In 2020, the New York Yankees lost a tough battle against the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series, losing three games to two. The Yankees largely missed out on the World Series last year because of their weaknesses in pitching and hitting. These deficiencies have been accounted for in the offseason and will help lead the Yankees to victory in the World Series in 2021.
On April 1, Yankee Stadium came alive again to watch the Yankees face the Toronto Blue Jays. The game went to 10 innings, and New York fell short with a 3-2 loss. But this first loss of the season does not reflect the potential that the team has to make it all the way. The Yankees’ starting pitcher for this game, Gerrit Cole, has won many games for the team in the past because of his unstoppable pitching.
Sarah Langs of MLB.com puts Cole at the top of tier one in her 2021 starting pitcher rankings. “Cole has 696 strikeouts since the start of 2018, 61 more than any other pitcher in that span,” reported Langs. “He’s posted a sub-2.90 ERA in each of the past three seasons, including a 2.84 mark in 73 innings in his debut season with the Yankees in 2020.”
While Cole did not perform to the best of his ability on Opening Day, this does not mean the rest of his season will continue this way. Gerrit Cole has great potential to be the best pitcher in the league and to carry his team to the World Series in 2021.
Another key player for the Yankees this season is starting second baseman, DJ LeMahieu, who has been their most valuable player for two years running. LeMahieu signed a six-year, $90 million deal with New York in January. He is coming off a season in which he led the American League with a .364 batting average, a .421 on-base percentage and a 1.011 OPS, also pacing the league with a 177 OPS+.
LeMahieu, so far in 2021, has a batting average of .300, a .382 on-base percentage, and a .799 On-base-plus-slugging-percentage, which predicts a very promising season for him as a baseman and as a batter. LeMahieu will play a crucial role in leading the Yankees to the World Series, and considering his performance so far, he will execute to his full potential.
There is much talk of the Los Angeles Dodgers winning for the second year in a row and continuing on their hot streak. However, the Yankees have a retooled roster of talented players, which will allow them to take home a World Series win.
The Philadelphia Phillies
By Ben Bilotti ’23
The common picks to win it all this season are the Dodgers, Yankees, Padres, Braves, Mets, and White Sox. While these are all strong choices, I am going to go a different route. My pick to win the Fall Classic this year is the Philadelphia Phillies, a true “dark horse.”
Simply put, the Phillies were not great last season. In a shortened 60-game season, the Phillies finished below .500 with a 28-32 record. However, this was largely due to a flawed bullpen. Last season the bullpen was historically bad, posting a 7.06 combined earned-run average. That is the second-worst bullpen ERA in Major League history.
The Phillies’ front office recognized this was a clear problem and took action. In the offseason, they acquired Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, and Brandon Kintzler, who are all relief pitchers who have had success in the past. The bullpen was not the only area improved, as key pieces were added to the starting rotation as well, such as veterans Matt Moore and Chase Anderson.
It is still early in the season, but, so far, all offseason acquisitions have contributed in a positive manner. These new additions, paired with rotation staples Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Elfin, make up a very serviceable rotation. If all goes well, it could be one of the best in baseball.
The pitching staff is well-rounded and improved, which brings us to the lineup. When everyone is healthy, the Phillies’ lineup is prolific. Players such as Rhys Hoskins, Didi Gregorius, and Andrew McCutchen are all looking to bounce back and contribute. Gregorius and Hoskins have already shown their power strokes are back. The Phillies also have the best catcher in baseball, J.T. Realmuto, who is a top-tier defensive catcher and the best hitting catcher in the game. He can also move down the base paths, proving that he truly impacts the game on all levels.
The Phillies also have Bryce Harper. The narrative over the years is that the $330-million man is overrated. I believe the opposite. Advanced statistics (as well as the eye test) prove that Harper is an above-average player. His average exit velocity, walk percentage, and advanced metrics such as expected batting average all put Harper in the 90th percentile or higher. These statistics are impressive and prove that Harper is going to be a key contributor to the Phillies’ offense.
In the end, even though the Phillies’ odds of winning the World Series to begin the year were very low, I believe they have what it takes to pull it off. Their starters can get quality starts and go long into games. The bullpen has also significantly improved, and the team’s role players look to be filling their spots just fine. When all is said and done, the Philadelphia Phillies will be the 2021 World Series champions.
The Cowl Sports Staff Picks Its Winner
by Jack Belanger on March 18, 2021
Gonzaga Bulldogs Will Take Home Their First Championship
By Jack Belanger ’21
Members of the sports staff put their heads together to come up with the third official The Cowl March Madness bracket. Thanks to Luke Sweeney ’24 for his analysis of the South region, Leo Hainline ’22 for the West, Ben Bilotti ’23 for the East, Joseph Quirk ’23 for the Midwest, and to everyoneelse for helping make the picks. Here is our breakdown of each region, the semifinals, and the championship.
In the South region, things should get exciting as the first round boasts multiple strong teams and potential upsets. No. 3 seed University of Arkansas will squeeze by the surprisingly explosive offense of No. 14 Colgate University, before advancing all the way to the Elite Eight.
Villanova University at the No. 5 seed should dominate No. 13 Winthrop University even with all of the Wildcats’ injuries, but they will face a tough road in the later rounds. The 8-9 seed matchup will see the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill beat the University of Wisconsin-Madison after what should be a very competitive, high-scoring matchup.
Creighton University is one of the tournament’s biggest question marks. The Bluejays are incredibly inconsistent but can out-shoot just about anyone in the tournament if they are on their game. It does not help that the team got embarrassed by 25 points in the Big East Championship and has been dealing with off-the-court issues.
The University of California, Santa Barbara has a star player in JaQuori McLaughlin, but the Gauchos have yet to be tested by elite competition.
The University of Kansas, University of Virginia, and Creighton could all very well pack their bags early this year, but the Kansas Jayhawks are in the most trouble.
Eastern Washington University is a team full of balanced scoring. They have seven guys who all contribute and are a strong free-throw shooting team. Kansas has multiple players returning from COVID-19-related absences and may naturally get off to a slow start. The Eagles will be attacking from the start and will likely grab an early lead.
It is difficult to envision Luka Garza’s Hawkeyes struggling with any team before the Elite Eight. The University of Oregon Ducks could be competitive against the University of Iowa in the Round of 32, but Iowa has too much talent both inside and out to suffer an early exit.
When all is said and done, Gonzaga University is simply the most dominant team in the country and will represent the West region in the Final Four.
There are several upsets in the East region of our bracket. In the first round, No. 11 Michigan State University (pending a First Four win) will upset No. 6 Brigham Young University.
From there, they carry their momentum all the way to the Sweet 16, where they will be taken down by the University of Connecticut. The Hoyas will use the momentum from their 73-48 victory over Creighton University in the Big East Championship Game to beat the University of Colorado.
In the end, an elite Florida State University squad gets in the Hoyas’ way, as the team, moving all the way to the Elite Eight, will face off against UConn with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
The main story in this section is the No. 1 seed, University of Illinois. Illinois is expected to be one of the title favorites. That being said, they may have the most difficult road to the Final Four, facing a loaded side of the bracket.
The Midwest region features a number of threats, some obvious and some more underrated. We, as a staff, have Illinois making it through the gauntlet, beating out teams such as Loyola University Chicago, Oklahoma State University, the University of West Virginia, and the University of Houston.
There should be a number of wildly entertaining games in the first round alone from Loyola vs. the Georgia Institute of Technology, San Diego State University vs. Syracuse University, and Clemson University vs. Rutgers University.
Florida State may give Gonzaga its toughest matchup of the tournament. With a strong interior defense and one of the best teams crashing the offensive boards, the Seminoles are one of the more physical teams this year. The Bulldogs will have to hit their threes early, which is what they have been doing all year. They have proved they can beat top teams this season, and FSU is no exception.
If it were not for Gonzaga, Baylor University would be the best team in the country this year. Taking on an underdog West Virginia team, the Bears should have an easy time making it to the finals. Star players Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell were both named to the All-Big 12 First Team. Mitchell was also named the conference’s defensive player of the year. Despite their best efforts, the Mountaineers will not have the defense to stop the Bears.
This matchup is perhaps a little anticlimactic, but Gonzaga and Baylor are simply a tier above the rest of the country. The championship game should come down to the final minutes. Both teams are efficient on offense and both have good defenses. Gonzaga came up short a few years ago against North Carolina—that team was good, this team is better. Mark Few is one of the most underappreciated coaches of all time. This is his chance to put his name among the greats. Lottery pick Jalen Suggs will lead the Bulldogs to their first title ever.