All-Area baseball, softball teams display Hudson's vast talent
Another scholastic school year has come to a close, which means that the year-end honors have approached us. The honors begin this week with our annual All-Area baseball and softball teams.
Selecting the players for the 2002 Hudson Reporter All-Area Baseball and Softball Teams was definitely not an easy task, because of the dozens of athletes who competed with dignity throughout the course of the season.
However, we have compiled a list of some very worthy athletes who all excelled on their respective fields of play this spring.
Although there were no state championships to celebrate this season, there were many accomplishments by many individuals who deserve their place to be considered the best that Hudson County has to offer.
The All-Area Baseball Team has three members from Ferris and Weehawken, and two representatives from HCIAA Coviello four-time champion St. Peter's Prep and second place Memorial.
Emerson, Hoboken and Hudson Catholic each placed two members on the team as well.
Some of the statistics compiled by Player of the Year candidates were simply mindboggling.
For example, Weehawken sophomore outfielder Danny Lopez led his team to a second straight BCSL National Division championship by batting .494 with six homers, eight doubles, eight triples and 35 RBI. St. Peter's Prep shortstop John Zaszewski missed four games due to a bout with the chicken pox, but still managed to hit .543 with three homers and 28 RBI, earning All-Area honors for the second straight season.
County Prep's Kevin Wendolowski played for most of the season in virtual anonymity, a senior among the host of talented freshmen. But Wendolowski batted .530 with three homers and 28 RBI and earns his place with the All-Area performers.
In fact, of the 16 position players selected for this year's team, 13 had batting averages of .400 or better. Those are impressive numbers.
The four pitchers selected, Frolian Ramirez of Ferris, Jimmy Comprelli of St. Peter's Prep, Adel Acosta of Memorial and Grevin Rodriguez of Weehawken, combined to win 29 games and lost just four, with an ERA under 1.60.
Add the performances of the three utility selections, namely Chris Lugo of Hoboken, Chris Jodice of Weehawken and Billy Petsch of North Bergen, and you have an additional 17 victories.
But the premier performer of all the 20 honorees selected to the All-Area Baseball team is sophomore Gil Zayas of St. Joseph of the Palisades, who did practically everything for the Blue Jays, carrying them to the HCIAA Seglio title. Zayas earns Hudson Reporter Baseball Player of the Year for 2002.
Zayas batted an amazing .606 with four homers and 33 RBI. He belted 10 triples and six doubles. He also stole 18 bases and scored 29 runs.
But that's not all. Zayas was also a premier relief pitcher as well, pitching 16 innings, striking out 29 and allowing just nine hits. His ERA was 1.74, as he won two games and saved five.
"He's the best player I've ever coached," said St. Joseph head coach Manny Cardenas, who has been around for almost a quarter century.
With two years remaining, the sky's the limit for Gil Zayas.
The Coach of the Year is Ferris' Mike Hogan, who turned around a team that was 9-16 a year ago and made it into an HCIAA title contender. Hogan, who guided both St. Anthony and Marist to HCIAA and Parochial B state titles during his tenure at those schools, never did a better coaching job than this year with the Bulldogs.
In the softball ranks, it was definitely a year for pitchers, as the four All-Area honorees, Leigh Ann Murduca of St. Dominic, Kristin Wilhelm of Secaucus, Ashley Daus of High Tech and Jodie Hild of North Bergen, combined to win a total of 59 games and strike out a total of 687 batters.
Some of the offensive numbers compiled were also just as astounding. High Tech sophomore catcher Megan Gale batted .615 with seven homers, 17 doubles and 46 RBI. St. Dominic first baseman Melissa Manzo batted .475 with seven homers and 47 RBI.
Hoboken catcher Arisel Santini batted .422 with eight homers and 37 RBI.
Dickinson centerfielder Angelica Sepulveda earned All-Area for a second straight year with a .403 batting average, combined with five homers, 28 RBI and 22 stolen bases.
But for the second time in three years, the Hudson Reporter Softball Player of the Year honor goes to North Bergen junior Jodie Hild, who won 16 games for the Bruins, six of which were no-hitters. She compiled a 1.55 earned run average, with 187 strikeouts in 140 innings. At the plate, Hild batted a team-high .438 with two homers and 31 RBI, with eight doubles and three triples, and became the first Bruin since Carol Cook in 1987 to hit a home run over the fence at Stan Newman Field.
The Coach of the Year honor goes to St. Dominic Academy's Dave Majewski, who helped the Blue Devils become a true HCIAA contender this season, winning 18 games. With freshman Murduca leading the way, the Blue Devils should be a driving force in softball statewide next season.
The books are closed for the 2001-2002 scholastic sports season. It certainly was a year to remember in Hudson County scholastic sports, with these worthy honored athletes as prime examples of that.