May 4, 2012
Hudson County Softball Tournament Preview
Naomi Olacio (left) and Hoboken are the top seed in the Hudson County Tournament. (Photo: Jason Bernstein)
By Jason Bernstein Editorial Director
Hudson County Softball Tournament Preview
With a 14-1 record within the county (15-2 overall), Hoboken has emerged as the class of the HCIAL through the season’s first month. With eight seniors seeing extensive playing time, no one can match the experience of a Red Wings team, which has something to prove after last year’s stunning defeat to Ferris in the quarterfinals.
Centerfielder Sybil Lynch and pitcher Jayla Vega lead the group of seniors and are a potent combination at the top of the lineup. Desiree Rivera, Nicollette Martinez, Samantha Maldonado, Jade Bracero add depth to the offense.
But the key to Hoboken’s offense rests in its two underclassmen: sophomore 3B Kayla Morrissette and freshman SS Naomi Olacio. If these middle of the order hitters are on, it can be a long day for opposing pitchers.
The cast may be different for perennial contender North Bergen, but the Bruins remain a threat to win it all. Junior shortstop Nerylix Cerda may be the county’s top all-around hitter and leads an offense which features senior catcher Kayla Muniz and junior 3B Sabrina Reyes. Hard-throwing lefty Jessica Feria averages more than a strikeout an inning for North Bergen, the lone Hudson County team to defeat Hoboken this season.
A year ago, Kearny may have surprised some when they made it to the semifinals as a No. 13 seed. This time the Kardinals won’t be able to sneak up on anyone as a No. 4 seed. Pitcher Ashleigh Amadeo and shortstop Sarah O’Neil power the middle of the Kearny lineup and sophomore Nicole Kelly can create havoc at the top of the lineup.
Union City may not possess the offensive fire power of a year ago when it stormed its way to a Hudson County title, but the Soaring Eagles are still a dangerous group. Senior 1B Jovanique Meneses and sophomore catcher Shalia Rolon are two of the area’s top sluggers and are joined by Samantha Uribe, Erica Ruiz, Adrianna Liverman and Shaela Rodriguez. Union City also returns pitcher Melissa Mendoza.
The Dark Horse:
Don’t let the No. 7 seed fool you; Secaucus is more than capable of making another run in the tournament. Few teams are as aggressive on the bases as the Patriots with centerfielder Lauren Guillen at the top of the lineup. Juniors Jessie Koerner, Danielle Roesing and Ariana Simon along with freshman Julia McClure are power threats in the middle of the lineup. Roesing has had success in the circle against Hudson County competition in the past, tossing a three-hit shutout in last year’s North 2, Group 1 playoffs against Hoboken.
No. 3 seed McNair (15-4) and No. 6 seed Hudson Catholic (12-2) have been the class of the HCIAL White Division. Now these two freshman and sophomore-dominant teams will face the pressure of tournament play.
McNair senior Natalia Estremera is one of the county’s top all-around players and a lethal bat in the middle of the lineup. She leads a group of talented, but young hitters in freshman Grace Hill, sophomore Sarah Beckner and senior Micah Baluyot.
Hudson Catholic is even younger, with just one junior and no seniors on the roster. Sophomore Jessica Hill has crushed opposing pitching with seven homers and Victorio Moyeno and Kristin Cunning have wreaked havoc at the top of the lineup.
The Bracket Buster:
At 4-12, Ferris has had a disappointing season thus far. But an April 18 win over North Bergen is a reminder that Ferris can still compete with some of the better teams in the area. Led by pitcher Victoria Pessolano and shortstop Eddilyn Figueroa, the Bulldogs made a surprise run to the semifinals a year ago.
Hudson County Softball Tournament
Friday, May 4
17-Marist at 16-Harrison 4 p.m.
19-Holy Family at 14-University Charter 4 p.m.
18-St. Anthony at 15-Lincoln 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 5
10-St. Dominic Academy at 7-Secaucus 2 p.m.
11-Snyder at 6-Hudson Catholic 2 p.m.
13-Dickinson at 4-Kearny 2:30 p.m.
9-Memorial at 8-Bayonne 3 p.m.
12-Ferris at 5-Union City 3:30 p.m.
15-Lincoln/18-St. Anthony winner at 2-North Bergen 7 p.m.
14-University Charter/19-Holy Family winner at 3-McNair TBA
16-Harrison/17-Marist winner at 1-Hoboken TBA