The 2004 All-Area baseball team features seven players who earned the honor a year ago. Hudson Catholic, the HCIAA Coviello Division champion, had two repeat performers in catcher Rick Tauber and pitcher/second baseman Chris Lugo, who earns the nod as the Most Valuable Player for the season.
In all, four Hawks earned All-Area honors, as outfielder Frank Flynn and pitcher/infielder Rubiel Mercado joined Tauber and All-Area MVP Lugo.
Coach Derek England earns the nod as the Hudson Reporter Coach of the Year.
The repeat performers on the All-Area baseball team include Danny Ramirez of St. Mary's, Gil Zayas of St. Joseph of the Palisades, Danny Lopez and Chris Jodice of Weehawken and Kris Gonzalez of County Prep.
Zayas and Lopez join Lugo as three-time All-Area honorees. Zayas was named the Reporter Player of the Year, with Scott Van Es of Secaucus earning the honor as the Reporter Pitcher of the Year.
It also marked the first time that Bayonne has honorees on the All-Area squad, since the town of Bayonne joined the circulation area of the Hudson Reporter newspaper chain. With that in mind, four members of the Bees, namely pitcher Mike Vitale, infielder Henry Santana, outfielder Dave Lewandowski and catcher Chris Castlegrande earn inclusion to the 2004 All-Area team.
The Hudson Reporter All-Area softball team has a few more returning performers, 10 in all. Two performers, namely Player of the Year Megan Gale of High Tech and standout pitcher Kristin Wilhelm of Secaucus, earned All-Area honors for the fourth straight year, becoming only the fifth and sixth players to ever earn All-Area accolades for all four years of high school. It's quite a remarkable feat.
The Most Valuable Player and Pitcher of the Year, Lacey Skowronski of Holy Family Academy, is a newcomer to the column, again because the Bayonne school just recently joined the Reporter's circulation area. But the HFA senior would have been a sure-fire four-year honoree.
Holy Family Academy had two other All-Area honorees in first baseman Jessica Klein and shortstop Jenna Wendolowski.
HCIAA Coviello Division champion St. Dominic Academy headed the All-Area team with four honorees, namely standout pitcher Leigh Ann Murduca, catcher Roxanne Schneider, outfielder Holly Fagan and pitcher/first baseman Lauren Canonico.
Schneider earns All-Area honors for the third straight year and ironically, she makes the team in her third different position. In 2002, Schneider, headed to Princeton University on an academic scholarship, earned All-Area honors as an outfielder. Last year, she made the team as a shortstop and this year, she's on the team as a catcher.
Hoboken, which reached the state sectional final, in this case, the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II title game, also had four honorees, with standout pitcher Natalie Lugo leading the way, along with outfielder Sabrina Foster, shortstop Somaira Serrano and outfielder Jennifer Albuja.
High Tech, the HCIAA Seglio Division champions, also had four honorees in Gale, pitcher April Jacob, second baseman Kamilla Rodriguez and third baseman Lauren DeGrushe. Jacob and DeGrushe are repeat honorees, as are Wilhelm, Murduca, Schneider, Foster, Serrano, Lugo and Mercedes Nunez of Memorial.
Head coach Vince Nardiello, who has guided the Lasercats to an unfathomable 67 straight wins inside the Seglio Division, earns Coach of the Year honors - as a fitting farewell. Nardiello announced that he was retiring from coaching after winning the school's fifth straight Seglio Division crown. - Jim Hague