It was a thrilling high school baseball season of firsts, lasts, and milestones.
During the debut season of the statewide tournament, Austin Prep (25-0) finished with the only unblemished record, securing a Division 3 crown in its final year in the MIAA before departing for the New England Prep School Athletic Council.
Austin Prep is also the No. 1 team in the final Globe Top 20 baseball rankings of the spring high school sports season.
The Division 1 final saw Taunton edge Franklin in a Hockomock League battle of public schools. The Hock proved to be the toughest league in the state, with five of the eight semifinalists in Divisions 1 and 2, but it was Milton of the Bay State Conference that rode the state’s deepest pitching staff — three D1 commits — to its first Division 2 crown.
Manchester Essex got hot at the right time and ripped through the Division 4 bracket, while Western and Central Mass. dominated in Division 5, where Mount Greylock was the last team standing.
Along the way, Dighton-Rehoboth coach Bill Cuthbertson became the ninth member of the 600-win club and Whitman-Hanson’s Pat Cronin captured his 500th victory during his final season.
Here’s a look at the top teams in the other final Globe Top 20 rankings for spring sports:
Taunton defended its Division 1 title, courtesy of stout offensive output and the pitching duo of senior Liv Mendonca and freshman Catherine Larson, to earn the Globe’s top ranking. No. 2 Amesbury, with a scoring margin of 292-10 in a 24-1 run, allowed one run in the postseason en route to capturing the Division 4 championship.
No. 7 Greater New Bedford triumphed over familiar foes Middleborough and Dighton-Rehoboth to win the Division 3 trophy. Western Mass. represented two of the divisional champions, as freshman pitcher Shea Hurley lifted Westfield to the Division 2 title and Greenfield won Division 5. Lowell senior Giana LaCedra, committed to UMass Lowell, won her fourth consecutive Gatorade Player of the Year award.
All eyes were on Needham, which was unbeaten last year, but the Rockets never felt the target on their backs. They followed up last year’s state title with another pristine run, steamrolling every competitor en route to a 24-0 record and another state championship and the top spot in the final rankings.
There was increasing parity throughout the state as boys’ volleyball rises in Massachusetts.
No. 2 Westford and No. 3 Lowell duked it out in three matchups, each going to five sets and ending with a Westford win in the D1 semifinals. No. 4 St. John’s Prep carried the torch for the Catholic Conference, while Lexington broke out with a stellar spring alongside Winchester in the newly formed Middlesex League.
Westfield reigned atop the new Division 2 as a perennial powerhouse, but North Quincy also emerged as a stalwart out of the South Alliance. Malden took the growing Greater Boston League to new heights in Division 1, and O’Bryant did the same in Division 2 for the small Boston City League.
For years, Norwell lurked as a sleeper in the tournament, but never reached the top of the mountain. But an 11-3 victory over Medfield in the Division 3 final gave Norwell, No. 5 in the final rankings, a seat at the table of champions.
Can there be an encore?
Norwell returns faceoff specialist John Mullen, who controlled 13 of 18 draws at the X in the final, and goalie Ryan Daly, who made 10 stops in the title game. Both will be seniors.
“There’s a little bit of work we’re going to have to put in before that, but I mean, it’s always in the back of everybody’s mind, right?” Norwell coach Josh Stolp said of a path back to the title game in 2023.
Top-ranked St. John’s Prep outlasted Hingham in the Division 1 semifinals and took down rival BC High for a second straight state title. Billerica and Sandwich, respectively, lost heartbreakers in the D2 and D4 state finals; Cape & Islands winner Nauset had the best season in program history and Walpole came on strong late to make the D2 quarterfinals.
No. 1 Westwood capped another perfect season with a 16-1 championship triumph over Wellesley. The Wolverines may have been the No. 2 seed in Division 1, but they were the definitive favorite and steamrolled every opponent along the way.
There’s no reason to believe they’ll slow down, either. Westwood is the front-runner heading into next season as it tries to extend its 49-game winning streak and go for a three-peat. No. 2 Notre Dame (Hingham), No. 3 Medfield, and No. 10 Dover-Sherborn also prevailed in their divisions, as Medfield overcame several injuries to capture its first state title since 2012.
Acton-Boxborough claimed the top spot after snapping the 82-match winning streak of three-time defending Division 1 state champion Brookline with a 3-2 victory in the state final.
“Brookline has won it the last three years, so it was time for a new champion,” A-B coach Kevin Curley said. Brookline finished second, and Division 1 semifinalist Lexington was third. Three-time D2 state champion Concord-Carlisle took fourth, while Weston rounded out the top five after capturing the inaugural Division 4 state title after winning the past four Division 3 crowns.
Lexington secured the top spot after earning a 3-2 victory over Lincoln-Sudbury in the final. It was the first Division 1 state title in more than two decades for Lexington, which posted a 23-0 record after finishing 6-7 in 2021.
“I’m super impressed with the girls,” first-year coach Chance Fechtor said. “They fought hard all year. They all dedicated themselves and had great attitudes.”
Lincoln-Sudbury took second in the poll, with unbeaten Division 2 state champion Masconomet rounding out the top three. D3 champion Newburyport is fourth and D4 state champ Hamilton-Wenham, also unbeaten, cracked the top five.
Globe correspondents Cam Kerry, Ethan Fuller, Nate Weitzer, Trevor Hass, and Brad Joyal contributed to this report.
Brendan Kurie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.