North Bergen looms as legitimate HCIAA title threat
The high school softball season has begun, with a perennial favorite looming as one of the teams to beat in the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic Association.
North Bergen has once again assembled a team to be reckoned with, led by the Hild sisters, pitcher Jodie and catcher Jamie. Jodie made a bit of history last week, when she became the first Bruin to hit an out-of-the-park home run since 1987. It's not known whether Jodie, who has to be considered among the top three pitchers in the area, had her home run trot down pat.
However, veteran North Bergen Head Coach Tom Eagleson can also rely upon the steady play of veterans Cristen Schoener, Denise DiPaolo and Jodie Cutone in the lineup. The Bruins have jumped out to a 4-1 start, so they deserve to be watched throughout the season. Either North Bergen or Holy Family Academy of Bayonne has to be considered the favorite to capture the HCIAA title this year.
Another team to watch is Hoboken. Veteran Coach Carmine Ronga has assembled a powerful hitting lineup once again, spearheaded by the play of Sabrina Foster, Vanessa Vega and Janelle Lopez. But the key to the Red Wings' hopes for a county title will lie on the talented arm of sophomore Chrissy Volaric, who has already pitched a no-hitter over Union Hill this season. If Volaric continues her mound mastery, the Red Wings are a force to be reckoned with.
Memorial has been the big surprise of the early season. The Tigers already own an impressive 4-3 victory over Marist, led by the pitching of Heather Cook and the all-around solid play of Joanna Aquino.
Marist has to be considered in the mix for a playoff berth. Senior Megan Miller has already put her stamp on the season, winning two games on the mound, while collecting five hits in a win over Union Hill. Karen Bradley and basketball standouts Jen Lewandowski and Makeda Gleaton make the Lady Knights a serious threat.
Secaucus has already faced some tough competition in the early going, suffering losses to Holy Family and Kearny. But the Patriots should be a team to watch in the Bergen County Scholastic League, thanks to the play of returning All-Area standouts Kristen Bella and Tiffany Aciz.
Another gigantic surprise has been the play of High Tech, which has exploded out to a 5-0 start, easily the best record after five games the young program has enjoyed. Jessica Hall has been the story for High Tech, pitching masterfully in all five games, including a two-hit shutout against St. Aloysius High. Megan Gale has been a terror at the plate. This is a feel-good story waiting to happen.
St. Dominic Academy stumbled out of the gates, losing its first four games. But the Blue Devils will bounce back, especially with senior slugger Lori Kushnir returning. Nicole Reiner has also been a solid contributor at the plate.
The team that has put up the highest run production totals in the early going of the season is not Hoboken, but rather surprising Ferris, off to a 3-0 start. The Bulldogs have a bunch of talented sophomores and they're all contributing. Stefanie Mafinijad's varsity debut was a beauty, slugging three homers and knocking in six runs. Michelle Ippolito has also been a solid contributor at the plate.
Weehawken has also enjoyed a solid beginning, led by the pitching of Rianne Jodice, who has a no-hitter, a two-hitter and a three-hitter already to her credit, not to mention 32 strikeouts, and the hitting of Ileana Fajardo, who has been getting three hits practically every game.
Dickinson, guided by veteran Coach John Lisa, has a lot of talent, paced by pitcher Heather Torres, slick fielding shortstop Joanna Torres and power hitters Kim McKnight and Delilah Bracero.
Alicia Harding and Desirae Davis are the two top hitters for Coach John Cossolini at Snyder.
Danielle Giunta and Gina Rotundi are two sluggers for St. Joseph of the Palisades, which will try to contend with High Tech for HCIAA Seglio Division honors this spring.