"I was extremely disappointed, because my girls were too advanced to play in a Little League," said Quintanilla, a long-time North Bergen resident and father of two extremely talented softball players, namely Natalie, a 12-year-old second baseman, and Melanie, a 10-year-old pitcher. "They had been playing in travel elite programs since they were younger. We had to move on to greener pastures. It is what it is."
So Quintanilla found the closest elite travel program for his daughters to play in.
The New Jersey Diamond Girls are based out of Belleville, but feature players from a host of different municipalities from all over northern New Jersey. Natalie and Melanie Quintanilla are the only two players who came from North Bergen to play with the program.
"They travel all over the state on weekends to different tournaments," Marcos Quintanilla said. "Usually, the tournaments are in southern New Jersey or Pennsylvania, so there is a lot of travel involved with me and my wife (Arely), bringing them all over to play."
Just recently, the Diamond Girls traveled to Rockaway, N.J. for the Rockaway Tournament, where Melanie Quintanilla just pitched her heart out.
"In five games, Melanie had two perfect games, two no-hitters and one one-hitter," Quintanilla said. "She was amazing in that tournament."
A week later, the younger Quintanilla was at it again, leading her 10-and-under team to several wins in the Furyous Frenzy Tournament in Delaware, a tournament that enabled Melanie's team to qualify for the AAU Nationals coming up later this month in Ohio.
Natalie's team, a 12-and-under team, had already qualified for the national tournament.
Both sisters are having summers to remember. Natalie Quintanilla is currently batting .460 for team as the starting second baseman, while Melanie has taken it a step further, batting .550, but has been a devastatingly dominating pitcher.
"She's 15-1 this summer with a ridiculously low earned run average," Marcos Quintanilla said. "She's pitched 57 innings and she's struck out 130 batters and has allowed just 10 hits."
That's beyond comprehension.
"I'm very proud of both of my kids," said Quintanilla, who serves as an assistant coach with the Diamond Girls. "I just wish it wasn't so far from home so that others could enjoy what they're doing. They both have blended in well with their teammates. The rest of the team comes from towns all over the state, so my girls feel a little out of place. But I'm surprised with the way they're coming around together as friends, especially because they're so young."
It's evident that both young ladies have excellent futures and could be the high school softball stars of tomorrow. Stay tuned.
"It's been fun for them to get to meet different people and see different places," Marcos Quintanilla said. "I like it as well. It's been very enjoyable. They've taken a negative and turned it into a positive."
The District 7 Little League tournament kicked off last weekend, so you can be rest assured that District Coordinator Gene Klumpp, Sr. is hard at work organizing the exciting double-elimination tourney.
One of the early stars of the tourney has been Hoboken's Danny Grossi, who registered 12 strikeouts and hit a two-run homer in Hoboken South's win over West New York National in the opening round of the District 7 tourney at Buchmiller Park in Secaucus.
The tourney has always brought out the best in Hudson County's high school stars of tomorrow and it looks as if Grossi will be a player to watch in the coming years...
In regular season Little League action, Secaucus apparently has a star in Dominic Rizzo, who hit two homers, one to left field and another to center, in the same inning, collecting seven RBI in the process, as his team, Secaucus Recreation beat Kiwanis. Rizzo also had a triple in the game and scored four runs. A day later, Rizzo was a pitching star for his team. Looks like someone else to watch...
Hoboken High School stars Devon Inhulsen and Nate Arocho have led their Hoboken Mickey Mantle team to a 6-0 start so far. Looks like the success they had during the high school season is carrying over to the summer leagues...
The EXTRA INNINGS weekly feature focuses on the best stories that come from local baseball and softball leagues throughout the area. If you have any noteworthy information to contribute to the EXTRA INNINGS, feel free to contact Jim Hague by voice mail at 201-798-7800, ext. 751, by general mail at 1400 Washington Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, or via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com. Please include a telephone contact name and number, in order to secure further information for a possible story.