High Tech High School softball coach Vince
Nardiello was asked if he was amazed at the fact that the Lasercats have
now won 53 consecutive HCIAA Seglio Division games, in a span that has covered
four full years.
However, it is not the first time that Nardiello had enjoyed such an impressive streak of success.
Back in the late '70s and early '80s, Nardiello was the golf coach at Ramapo College in Mahwah. During that time, Nardiello's links masters won an NCAA-record 94 straight matches, including the 1982 NCAA Division III national title. The Roadrunners didn't lose a single golf match for five full years.
"I told them that I had been through all of this before," Nardiello said.
However, even winning a national title can't compare to the euphoria that Nardiello is enjoying these days. His team is undefeated, sitting atop the Hudson County softball world at 23-0, after defeating Hoboken 15-4 to capture the school's fourth straight HCIAA Seglio Division title last Saturday.
"It's been very rewarding," Nardiello said. "It's nice to be able to start this program, see it grow and then bring it to a fruition."
While Nardiello has had some nice teams in the past, this one is clearly the best. The reason: April Jacob.
The freshman hurler has been downright dominant all season, winning 10 games of her 20 victories via shutout.
"Because of all that she's done, it's really like having a senior out there," Nardiello said of Jacob, who was the winning pitcher in the title game against Hoboken. "Even though she's a freshman, she pitches like a senior. She's pitched all the big games and worked her whole life for this. Nothing bothers her. Even if someone makes an error, she doesn't even react. She just keeps throwing."
Even though the Lasercats rolled through the HCIAA Seglio again without a scrape, Nardiello reminded his players of one thing before they took the field last Saturday.
"I told them that I was proud of what we've been able to accomplish, but if we lost the game, then it would be like the whole season didn't matter," Nardiello said. "We sat down and talked together. I told them that they could beat themselves if they weren't careful."
They were more than careful. Megan Gale, the slugging catcher, delivered three RBI, as did statuesque first baseman Michelle Bartoli. Freshman Lauren DeGrushe also knocked in three runs. The Lasercats left no doubt. Dynasty was in the making. Not many teams have won four county crowns in a row.
But there are other goals at stake, like the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group I playoffs. The Lasercats are the top seed in the bracket, but High Tech has never won a state tournament game.
"Our goal is to win a state championship," Nardiello said. "We have to see what happens. It would be nice to get our first win. Hopefully, we'll be successful this year."
And then, there's the proposed showdown with the other HCIAA champion, the Coviello queens of St. Dominic Academy.
"They have a real fine team," Nardiello said. "We feel we're the No. 1 team in Hudson County and I know they think the same way. We won our division and beat some quality teams. I know they have as well. We're a little disappointed that the game hasn't been played. I still think it's a possibility. I'd have no objection to playing the game."
It certainly would end all debates which team was truly No. 1. We'll have to see what transpires in the coming weeks. - Jim Hague