EXTRA INNINGS Hoboken heads to RBI Softball World Series again

Eighth straight appearance for locals; Washington Park preps for LL states

HEADED TO CINCY – The Hoboken Shockers softball team won the RBI Northeast Region championship last week in Rhode Island and will play next weekend at the RBI World Series in Cincinnati, marking Hoboken’s eighth straight trip to the RBI World Series.
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HEADED TO CINCY – The Hoboken Shockers softball team won the RBI Northeast Region championship last week in Rhode Island and will play next weekend at the RBI World Series in Cincinnati, marking Hoboken’s eighth straight trip to the RBI World Series.

If it’s August this week, then it means that the Hoboken Shockers will be headed to the Major League Baseball RBI World Series.

For the eighth straight summer, Hoboken High School head softball coach Vinnie Johnson will take an All-Star softball team to the RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner-Cities) World Series, heading this time to Cincinnati for the national tournament.

The team comes from the RBI regular season that took place in Hoboken this summer, sponsored by Hoboken Recreation.

“We have an RBI league for girls ages 15 and older,” said Johnson, who has been involved in the Hoboken Shockers program since its initial season nine years ago. “We have six teams in the league. In order to be eligible to try out for the All-Star team, they had to play in 12 of our in-house league games.”

The league is played in Hoboken since the beginning of June, with the All-Star team selected by Johnson a few weeks ago.

The Shockers began play first on the District level, which the Shockers won two weeks ago in Newark. They moved on to the Northeast Regional Tournament last week in Providence, Rhode Island, with the championship game being played on the campus of Brown University.

Ironically, Hoboken faced Roberto Clemente of Jersey City in the regional championship game, with Hoboken coming away with the 13-0 victory.

“We played the game in a pouring rain,” Johnson said. “I thought it hurt them. It’s a shame that the two teams that played in the finals were both from the same area.”

The Hoboken team is blessed to have a roster that is made up by a bunch of All-Hudson County players, including three from Hudson County Tournament finalist Kearny, namely pitcher/infielder Sydney Pace, pitcher/first baseman Emilee Marshall and catcher Tatiana Fermaint.

It’s Fermaint, the Hoboken native, who was the one to get her friends Pace and Marshall to play in the Hoboken Recreation RBI Softball League.

The team also features a host of Johnson’s current and former players, including the Henriquez twins, Alizea and Jaeda, who are headed to Goldey-Beacom University in Delaware next month to begin their college careers in both soccer and softball.

Alizea is one of the catchers on the Shockers’ roster, along with Fermaint and Gianna Flores of Hudson Catholic. Jaeda is the team’s third baseman.

Taylor Barron, the former Redwing great who played last spring at Kean University, is the team’s first baseman.

Dayanara Flores, the former Hudson Catholic standout, is the team’s shortstop.

Victoria Bravo of Hoboken is the left fielder, with Nicole Cabeza of Memorial in centerfield and Fermaint in right.

Others on the roster include Kimberly Flores of Hudson Catholic, a first baseman; Samantha Leon of Memorial, an infielder; and Hailey Mojica of Secaucus, an outfielder.

Former Hudson Catholic standout Kristin Cunning as well as Jade Bracero and April Bracero serve as the Shockers’ assistant coaches.

The tourney will be held in Cincinnati Aug. 6 through Aug. 11. The team will be treated to a welcome banquet as well as other social activities.

Johnson was asked what it meant to have Hoboken represented in the RBI World Series for the eighth straight season at spots all over the country.

“It’s a great accomplishment just to get there,” Johnson said. “But we want to win. We’ve done a decent job in the past, but now we have to get over the top.”

In the sectional title game, Pace and Kimberly Flores each had three hits.

Johnson said that he plans on having an alumni game between now and the Aug. 6 tourney opener.

“We’re bringing back some of the former players,” Johnson said. “A lot of them still play and were willing to come back and play this year’s team to get them ready.”

We will have more on the exploits of the Hoboken team in the RBI World Series in coming editions…

The Washington Park Little League 11-and-12-year-old All-Stars began their quest for a state championship Thursday night, when they faced Holbrook of District 18 (Barnegat) in the first round of the tournament in Kittatinny in Sussex County.

Washington Park spent the week practicing and playing scrimmage games, like one against Hoboken, to get ready for the state tourney. It’s Washington Park’s first-ever appearance in the state tournament and the first for a District 7 local squad since West New York American went to the state tournament in Mercerville in 2010. Before that, it was North Bergen who made the trip to the states in Bergenfield in 2008.

So as you can see, the local teams don’t necessarily get a chance to compete in the state tourney every year.

The other teams in the Final Four are Wayne and Swedesboro-Woolwich. Wayne won the state title in 1970 and went to the Little League World Series and won the overall title that year with the famed “Mop Top Gang.”…

Team Havoc, Hudson County’s top youth softball program, is having tryouts for its teams in the 10-and-under, 12-and-under and 14-and-under age groups.

The tryout dates are Aug. 7 through 9 (10s at 5 p.m., 12 and 14s at 6:30 p.m.) and Aug. 13 (10 a.m. for the 10s and 11:30 a.m. for the 12s and 14s) at the Braddock Park Field in North Bergen. For more information, e-mail teamhavocnj@yahoo.com.

EXTRA INNINGS focuses on the best stories that come from local baseball and softball leagues throughout the area, from Little League action through travel leagues.
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Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com