BELLEVILLE, NJ – After winning the Super Essex Conference-Colonial Division championship last season, the Belleville High School varsity softball team has moved up to the LIberty Division of the SEC.
The Bucs, under longtime head coach Chris Cantarella, hope to continue their success this season.
Belleville opens the season April 2 at Caldwell.
The three returning seniors are infielder Alyssa Welter and outfielders Sydney Gomez and Agustina Garrido. The other seniors are pitcher Genneys Colon, catcher Chantal Murdock and outfielder Mariah Martinez.
The other returning players are junior catcher Cherylann Nicosia, junior outfielder Jehan Dabon, junior infielders Krystal Medina and Jennifer Garrido and sophomore outfielder Fiorella Samaniego.
Agustina Garrido, Jennifer Garrido, Nicosia, Dabon and Samaniego are returning starters.
Sophomore infielders Nathlie Marin and Janelle McCann; sophomore pitchers Charlotte Colon and Shannon Walsh; sophomore infielder AnneMarie Smith and junior pitcher Olivia Velez also will vie for playing time.
The starting lineup will feature Nicosia behind the plate, Smith at first base/designated player; Medina at second base; Jennifer Garrido at shortstop; Marin at third; Agustina Garrido in left field; Dabon in center field and Samaniego in right field.
Belleville will probably use three pitchers throughout the year with Charlotte Colon, Walsh and Velez.
Welter is battling an injury but will see time at first base as well.
“Our outfield and catcher are a strength for us as they all return from last year’s team,” said Cantarella. “The infield and pitching are all new so there will be some growing pains, however all the girls had good springs last year either on JV or freshman levels and worked hard this offseason.”
Among the goals for the Bucs are to win another division title; achieve better results than the past two years in the Essex County Tournament; and make a run in the state section tournament.
“We will see some new teams (familiar foes) in the league and our section is very strong with Fair Lawn, Morris Knolls, Ridgewood and Bloomfield to name a few,” Cantarella said.
Cantarella, indeed, is excited about the season.
“The weather finally cooperated and we have been outside the last couple of days,” he said. “We completed two scrimmages and I was happy with what I saw. We made some mistakes but learned from them. We swung the bats well and pitched fairly well. The six seniors have been great leaders and been outstanding role models for the younger girls. 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 Danielle Labriola as the JV coach, Amanda Veniero as the freshman coach, and Alexa Veniero, Jaclyn Giangrande and Erica Barbosa are the varsity assistants.
The SEC-Liberty Division includes Caldwell, Millburn, Montclair, Newark Academy, and Columbia.
April 2, at Caldwell, 4 p.m.
April 4, Millburn, 4 p.m.
April 6, Montclair, 4 p.m.
April 7, at Westwood, 11 a.m.
April 9, Bloomfield Tech, 4 p.m.
April 11, at Newark Academy, 4 p.m.
April 14, Glen Ridge, 11 a.m.
April 16, at Bloomfield, 4 p.m.
April 18, Columbia, 4 p.m.
April 20, Caldwell, 4 p.m.
April 23, at Millburn, 4 p.m.
April 25, at Montclair, 4 p.m.
April 27, at East Side, 4 p.m.
April 30, Newark Academy, 4 p.m.
May 1, Memorial, 4:30 p.m.
May 7, at Kearny, 4:!5 p.m.
May 9, at Columbia, 4 p.m.
May 11, at West Orange, 4 p.m.
May 19, Montclair Kimberley Academy, 11 a.m.