The 2014 Hudson Reporter All-Area baseball and softball teams represent the very best that Hudson County has to offer.
It was certainly a year for pitching in the county, both in baseball and softball.
Just the All-Area baseball pitching array features three players who will play NCAA Division I baseball in the fall. That alone says a lot.
In any respect, there are five returning honorees among the All-Area Baseball Team, namely Matt Littrell of Marist, T.J. Ward of St. Peter’s Prep, Jimmy Rodriguez of Memorial, Jeremy Cerda of North Bergen and Brandon Pilovsky of NJSIAA Non-Public B overall state champion Hudson Catholic.
Littrell, Ward and Rodriguez are all three-time honorees, while Cerda and Pilovsky made the team a year ago.
There are many more returnees on the 2014 All-Area Softball Team. A total of nine young ladies made the team last year and have returned for another year. Five are three-time honorees, namely Mackenzie Brown of Bayonne, Kayla Morrissette and Naomi Olacio of NJSIAA North 2, Group I state champion Hoboken, Grace Hill of McNair Academic and Jessica Hill (no relation) of Hudson Catholic.
In softball, the Pitcher of the Year was St. Dominic Academy junior Christina Mezey, whose rapid improvement catapulted her to the top hurler in the county. The Player of the Year was Brown of Bayonne, whose hitting and fielding at shortstop helped the Bees reach the Hudson County Tournament finale.
The overall Hudson Reporter Most Valuable Player was Hill of Hudson Catholic, who batted an astounding .520 with 42 hits, six homers and 20 RBI as the leadoff hitter for the 20-5 Hawks, who enjoyed the best season in the school’s history.
There’s no question that Hill’s contributions to the Hawks were evident, as the team qualified for both the county and state sectional semifinals for the very first time.
“In my eyes, she had one of the best seasons around,” said first-year head coach Jenna Wendolowski, who was also named as The Hudson Reporter Coach of the Year. “I think since she became a scholarship player [Hill is headed to Felician College on a scholarship], it made her want it more. It’s going to be hard to fill her shoes. I knew when she got on base, with her incredible speed, she was going to score. I couldn’t ask more of her. She was the total package for us.”
In baseball, the Pitcher of the Year was Pilovsky, who is headed to NJIT on a scholarship. The talented right-hander was one of only three pitchers in the state this season to win 10 games and pitched to an ERA less than a run per seven innings. He guided the Hawks through their magical run of the NJSIAA Non-Public B state playoffs, culminating in the school’s first-ever state championship.
For a second straight year, the Player of the Year is Ward of St. Peter’s, who graduated as one of the best baseball players the school ever produced. Ward batted .436 after a slow start and got many clutch hits throughout the course of the season while drawing an astounding 30 walks. Ward is headed to the University of Hartford on a baseball scholarship.
The Hudson Reporter Most Valuable Player is Littrell of Marist, who led the Royal Knights to their second Ed “Faa” Ford Memorial Hudson County Tournament championship in the last three years. Littrell lost only one game in New Jersey this year to state-ranked St. Joseph of Montvale, fired a no-hitter against rival Bayonne and won all the big games locally. Littrell had an 8-2 record with a 1.75 ERA and 72 strikeouts in just 44 innings pitched. He graduates as Marist’s all-time win leader with an amazing 28 over four years, surpassing former major leaguer Joe Borowski on the school’s win list.
“Matt was just great,” Marist head coach Ron Hayward said. “He dominated for four years. I think he only struggled twice in four years. He’s an icon in Marist and helped us change the level of where we want to play at. I just always expected big things from him and he did it. He will always be remembered here and he’s raised the bar for others in the future.”
Littrell is off to pitch at Monmouth University in the fall.
The Hudson Reporter Coach of the Year is Alberto Vasquez of Hudson Catholic, who guided the Hawks to their first-ever NJSIAA state championship this season, winning in Non-Public B.—Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.