Veteran North Bergen softball coach Tom Eagleson knew that he was going to have a solid squad this season, so he did the best thing to showcase the Bruins.
He’s taking them to Disney World.
Thanks to a major off-season fundraising campaign, the Bruins will head to Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando next week to play three games in Florida against some of the top teams in the country.
The Bruins will face Verona of Wisconsin on April 5, Boardman of Ohio April 6 and Waterford Union, also of Wisconsin on April 8. It took some moving and shaking with the regular season schedule to get the trip done, but the Bruins will be ready.
“Most of the New Jersey teams go to Florida before the season officially begins,” Eagleson said. “These games will count for us. But this is one of the strongest teams we’ve had in quite a long time. If we were going to Florida, it would have been for practice and scrimmages, but not real games. I took the chance with this team.”
The Bruins did a little of everything and anything to raise the necessary funds to get to Orlando, collecting around $19,000 in the process.
“You name it, we did it,” Eagleson said. “We had about three pie sales and cookie sales. We sold T-shirts. We sold candy. It started last June, when a couple of the girls talked about going to Florida. That started the ball rolling. We spent almost the last full year fundraising.”
The Bruins lost only one starter, third baseman Andrea Jijon, to graduation from last year’s HCIAA Coviello champions that won 23 games.
Leading the returnees is junior pitcher Carla Arismendi, who has been a two-time Hudson Reporter All-Area selection. Arismendi was 23-4 on the mound last year and batted .456 for the Bruins in their championship run. She has not been harmed at all by the pitching mound being moved back three feet this year, from 40 feet to 43 feet.
“Now her pitches can really move around,” Eagleson said. “She’s strong enough to handle the distance. She’s pitched a lot since last summer at the new distance and she’s been solid in her outings in scrimmages thus far.”
Arismendi just received another honor recently, as she was named to the Puerto Rican Junior National (Under 18) team and will play with that group this summer.
The catcher is senior Jocelyn Cabrera, who played there last year, also earning All-Area honors. Senior Tiffany Lorincz returns at first base.
Junior Tiffany Garzon, a sure-handed fielder who hit .321 last year, returns at second base. Junior Jazmin Palma, also a two-time All-Area honoree, will miss the beginning of the season due to a broken hand suffered during basketball season. In Palma’s absence, three girls, senior Chenade Rey and freshmen Sabrina Reyes and Natalie Rodriguez, will share duties between third base and shortstop.
Senior Crystal Torres will be in left field, with returning All-Area centerfielder Ashley Heredia and basketball standout Ashley Vazzona in right. Heredia hit .437 as the Bruins’ leadoff hitter last year and Vazzona has become a more polished softball player.
Senior Stephanie Herrera is a key player who will see time in the outfield or will serve as the Bruins’ designated player.
The Bruins will play in a new fangled division of the North Jersey Tri-County Conference, in a league based on school size and past performances. The division includes High Tech, Hoboken, St. Dominic Academy, Bayonne, Holy Family Academy, Union City, Ferris and Kearny. Most of those have been the most successful softball programs in Hudson County in recent years.
“There are no easy games anymore,” Eagleson said. “There is a lot of quality in the league.”
But the Bruins should begin the 2010 season this week as the team to beat…
Speaking of softball, the Felician College softball team definitely has a heavy local flavor, with four former All-Area performers now gracing the Felician roster, as well as a former local coach.
Lauren DeGrushe of Guttenberg and High Tech, Grace Keller of Hoboken and Holy Family Academy, Justine Mateo of Hoboken and High Tech and former Reporter Female Athlete of the Year Nicole Degenhardt of Secaucus are all playing softball at Felician, with former St. Dominic Academy head coach Dave Majewski serving as an assistant there now.
After nine games, DeGrushe and Keller are hitting .375, with Mateo hitting .364, so the local girls are performing well at Felician…
Also at Felician, Secaucus native and former Marist basketball standout Janelle Biamonte recently became the first Felician athlete to earn Academic All-America honors.
And former Secaucus standout athlete Amber Butler was recently named as the head women’s volleyball coach at Felician, joining men’s basketball coach David DeFerrari as the school’s Secaucus coaching connection…
Three local products will represent Hudson County at this year’s New Jersey Scholastic Football Coaches Association’s North-South All-Star Classic, namely Gianni McLaughlin of St. Peter’s Prep, Joshua Ford of St. Anthony and Bryant Worts of Ferris. The North-South Classic will be played at Rutgers Stadium June 30.
Also, Prep quarterback Raphael Ortiz and defensive back Corey Davis will be part of the New Jersey All-Star squad that will take on the Northeast All-Stars, also at Rutgers, on June 6. That game used to be known as the Governor’s Bowl…
Speaking of All-Stars, St. Anthony’s Derrick Williams scored 30 points and St. Peter’s Prep’s Ronald Roberts added 20 in the annual North-South All-Star basketball game last Saturday night. Williams earned the game’s Most Valuable Player award.
Roberts has not decided yet whether he will still head to St. John’s, now that former coach Norm Roberts has been dismissed.
“I’m very disappointed by that news,” said Roberts, who is not related to the former Red Storm coach. “It’s too early to tell what I’m going to do. He [Norm Roberts] was one of the main reasons why I chose St. John’s. I have to see what happens.”…
The decision by Hudson County’s mayors to unilaterally stop the funding to the Hudson County Schools of Technology in terms of athletics is a huge blow and could spell the end of the programs at County Prep and High Tech.
It’s not known yet whether it is the end for both of those programs, but if there is no agreement reached, then this will be the last season for both… -- Jim Hague Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.