For the last three years, Hoboken has fielded a softball team that has been looking for a home to play in the summer months.
The Hoboken Shockers, an 18-and-under softball team, played in a league in Newark as it tried to get a charter to be part of Major League Baseball’s Rebuilding Baseball in the Inner-City (RBI) program.
This summer, it received the charter to be part of the RBI program and it paid off with tremendous dividends, as the Shockers are off this week to play in the RBI World Series in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The team will face Cleveland in the first round of the tourney on Tuesday and play a team from Puerto Rico in the second round on Wednesday.
The Hoboken Shockers are sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County, the Hoboken PAL, and Hoboken Recreation and are coached by veteran Hoboken coach Vinnie Johnson, who in recent years has been an assistant softball coach at High Tech High School.
Johnson’s Shockers earned a berth to the RBI World Series last week by winning the Eastern Regional tourney that took place throughout different sites in the county.
The Shockers feature a team that is packed with former members of the Hudson Reporter All-Area softball teams, including the best local softball player over the last four years and this past year’s Hudson Reporter Female Athlete of the Year.
Leading the way is super pitcher Erica Colon, who just recently completed her brilliant high school career at High Tech. The four-time Pitcher of the Year and three-time Most Valuable Player, headed for Central Connecticut State in the fall, has been playing on teams coached by Johnson since she was practically a toddler.
“I have a great relationship with Erica,” Johnson said. “We’ve been through a lot together.”
Johnson can also count on Hoboken High pitching ace and fellow All-Area performer Yanitza Santiago, as well as Adrianna Maldonado.
The team is blessed to have two All-Area catchers in Bianca Arroyo of High Tech and Ashley Barron of Hoboken, who was the 2009-2010 Reporter Female Athlete of the Year.
“It’s great to have two catchers, especially when you’re going to Florida to play in that heat,” Johnson said. “They also know each other very well. Ashley can play everywhere, from catcher to shortstop to third base and first base.”
First base duties are being shared by Colon, Barron and another All-Area performer, Natalia Estremera of McNair Academic.
Justine Mateo, a former All-Area performer from High Tech who just recently completed her first year of college softball at Felician College, is the team’s second baseman.
Angie Nieves, yet another All-Area honoree, is the team’s shortstop. Barron or Estremera play third base.
In the outfield, the team features Sybil Lynch of High Tech, Natalie Classen of High Tech and Jade Bracero, also of High Tech. Jazmin Palma of North Bergen, Alyssa Guzman of County Prep and Janissa Cardona of the former Caritas Academy are capable reserves, as is catcher Kiary Pantoja of Newark.
Needless to say, it’s a talent-packed roster that is heading to Florida this week.
The team had a chance to be honored at Yankee Stadium last week at the RBI Baseball Regional championships.
“It’s been a big thrill,” Johnson said. “They are so excited to be going to Florida. RBI is a great program and we were so happy to be able to play in the program this year. They’re really going to enjoy themselves.”
Johnson has received assistance from Ricardo and April Bracero and Jen Martinez, who was supposed to be on the team before suffering a knee injury, as assistant coaches…
The West New York American Little League All-Stars’ dreams of winning an overall state championship ended over the weekend, when the locals dropped both of their games at the New Jersey State Little League championships in Mercerville outside of Trenton.
The WNY Americans dropped a tough 9-7 decision in eight innings to Northfield in the opening round on Friday night, then lost 11-3 to eventual state champion Toms River National in the second round a day later.
Manager Henry Saurborn said that his team had nothing to be ashamed of, considering that it went further in the state tourney than any other West New York team since 1967.
“We feel great about what happened this season,” Saurborn said. “Of course, the kids are a little disappointed that they didn’t get to move on to the Eastern Regional, but overall, we’re very happy with the season. We didn’t have things break right for us and we had an opportunity to win the first game. Toms River had a great team and they have a great program. We actually had a lead on Toms River, but couldn’t hold it.”
Added Saurborn, “Our kids have nothing to be ashamed of. We just ran into some offensive juggernauts. I don’t think we could have done anything differently. The kids from Toms River can all hit. They had too many weapons and really hit us hard.”
Saurborn said that there were no regrets.
“We went to the state tournament for the first time in over 40 years and held our own,” Saurborn said. “I think we represented both West New York and Hudson County well. People will remember us. I had all the state officials come up to me and remarked about how well behaved and respectful our kids were. That was wonderful to hear. It was the biggest compliment we received. It’s not always what you do on the field. We went down there, fought hard, played hard, and played well. And we did it with class. That’s all you can ask for.”
And the kids from WNY American certainly made their mark with a great and thrilling run…
The New Jersey Falcons, a 17-and-under fall baseball team under the direction of respected baseball coach Ed Ward, will hold tryouts for the travel team at the Gunnell Oval in Kearny on Aug. 28-29. For more information, contact Coach Ward via e-mail at email@example.com or call (908) 347-6485…
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Please include a telephone contact name and number, in order to secure further information for a possible story…. -- Jim Hague Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.