BELLEVILLE, NJ – The Belleville High School varsity softball team, under head coach Chris Cantarella, returns a strong group this season, led by its six seniors: pitchers Kaila Freid and Kara Sica, first baseman Gianna Benacquista, first baseman/designated player Victoria Bruno, shortstop Luciana Gilfone and third baseman Jasmine Latorre.
The Bucs, who finished with an solid 14-10 record last spring, will begin the season on April 3 against Morris County Tech on the road.
Other returning players are sophomore catcher Cherylann Nicosia, sophomore outfielder Jehann Dabon and junior outfielders Sydney Gomez and Agustina Garrido.
Other potential candidates for playing time include junior second baseman Alyssa Welter, sophomore second baseman/shortstop Krystal Medina, sophomore outfielder Christina Gibson, and sophomore outfielder/second baseman Jennifer Garrido.
Some freshmen also are getting a look to potentially gain some varsity time.
The Bucs’ strength is their experience, with a good returning group that played both large and small roles last season, noted Cantarella.
The Bucs, who compete in the Super Essex Conference-Colonial Division, will move from North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 to North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 for the NJSIAA state tournament.
The SEC-Colonial Division features Montclair Kimberley Academy, Newark East Side, Bloomfield Tech, and Glen Ridge. MKA, Glen Ridge and East Side have moved to the SEC-Colonial.
“Our goals and expectations are always the same,” Cantarella said. “We would like to win the conference and win a game or two in the county (tournament) and make a run in the state tournament. We will see some new teams in the league and a new section in the state, so it be a challenge as always.”
The weather has gotten better lately and the team has been practicing outdoors for the past few days. The Bucs completed just two scrimmages, and have a few more, so it’s been a challenge for the past few weeks, said Cantarella.
Cantarella has praised his seniors’ leadership.
“The six seniors have been great leaders and been outstanding role models for the younger girls,” he said. “We had a great turnout and will have three levels of teams with full schedules, so the girls will get plenty of game competition. They are really looking forward to the season and are expecting big things.”
The coaching staff consists of junior varsity coach Anthony Cianciulli, freshman coach Amanda Veniero, and varsity assistants Alexa Veniero and Jaclyn Giangrande.
April 3, at Morris County Tech, 4 p.m.
April 4, Montclair Kimberley Academy, 4 p.m.
April 6, Memorial of West New York, 4:15 p.m.
April 7, at Newark East Side, 4 p.m.
April 10, West Orange, 4 p.m.
April 11, Passaic, 4 p.m.
April 13, at Bloomfield Tech, 4 p.m.
April 17, Westwood, 4 p.m.
April 19, Rahway, 4 p.m.
April 22, Glen Ridge, 11 a.m.
April 22, Verona, 1:30 p.m.
April 24, East Orange Campus, 4 p.m.
April 25, at Montclair Kimberley Academy, 4 p.m.
April 28, at New Providence, 4:15 p.m.
May 1, Newark East Side, 4 p.m.
May 2, Kearny, 4 p.m.
May 4, Bloomfield Tech, 4 p.m.
May 8, at Caldwell, 4 p.m.
May 11, at Nutley, 4 p.m.
May 12, at Glen Ridge, 4 p.m.
May 15, Millburn, 4 p.m.
May 16, at Saddle Brook, 7 p.m.
May 20, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, 11:30 a.m.