By Matt Goisman, Cape Cod Times
October 16, 2016
Three-time defending state baseball champion St. John Paul II will be among the 10 teams playing in the recently announced Compass Challenge, a one-day event set for April 15 at Plymouth North.
SJP II, which has won the last three Division 4 state titles, will face Division 1 West semifinalist Taconic, the Lions’ lone game that day. Other matchups, all of which count toward teams’ regular-season records, include Lincoln-Sudbury facing Plymouth North, West Springfield playing Silver Lake, Westfield taking on Bridgewater-Raynham and Minnechaug battling Whitman-Hanson.
“We’re very much looking forward to it,” Lions coach Mark Santos said. “You’re in for a good level of baseball, which is great. It’ll be a great for opportunity for our kids to see not only where we’re at, but also where some of these other teams are at.”
Santos said the invitation came from Silver Lake, which was the only team to beat the St. John Paul II last season. Silver Lake went on to reach the Division 1 state semifinals, where it lost to Lincoln-Sudbury, who then lost to West Springfield for the championship.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to get out and play teams from out west that we would never have the opportunity to (play),” Santos said.
Plymouth North made the elite Division 1A “Super 8” tournament last season, while Bridgewater-Raynham made the 2015 Super 8. Whitman-Hanson was seeded second in the 2016 Division 2 South sectional, while Westfield and Minnechaug both qualified for the Division 1 West sectional.
SJP II has never been admitted to the Super 8, but Santos said the Lions have been nominated in the past.
“That’s something we would definitely embrace,” Santos said of playing in future Super 8 tournaments. “There’s only going to be one winner, but it’s a pretty good gold standard if you’re considered one of the top eight teams in the state.”
Proceeds from the event will go to the Lupus Foundation. Players will wear purple items of clothing to raise awareness for the autoimmune disease.