It was a greatly competitive and balanced baseball and softball season for Hudson County in 2018, proven by the diversity in both the Hudson Reporter All-Area Baseball and Softball Teams.
Usually, the champions of the respective Hudson County Tournaments tend to dominate the year-end awards.
But that’s not the case this year in either baseball or softball.
For example, St. Peter’s Prep won the Ed “Faa” Ford Memorial Hudson County Tournament for the third time in the last four years, but the Marauders, who finished the year ranked No. 8 in the entire state, placed only four players on the Reporter’s All-Area squad.
Hudson Catholic also placed four players on the team. Ferris had three honorees. Bayonne, Memorial and Snyder all had two representatives each.
The Hudson Reporter Pitcher of the Year was St. Peter’s Prep’s Jack Carey, who earned Hudson Reporter All-Area honors for a third straight year. The Duke-bound Carey posted a 6-2 record with a 1.55 earned run average. He was also named All-East Region and Honorable Mention All-America by the Rawlings Corporation. Carey was expected to be selected in the recent Major League Baseball Draft, but the big league teams could not compare with the free education Carey will receive at one of the nation’s finest institutions. Professional baseball will have to wait three more years now.
The Hudson Reporter Player of the Year is Hudson Catholic’s fleet-footed and slick fielding second baseman Tino Salgado.
Salgado batted an even .500 for the Hawks this season with an incredibly balanced statistical line. He collected 27 hits, scored 27 runs and had 28 RBI. Salgado also had 15 stolen bases, five doubles, three triples and a home run. The mighty mite Salgado, who stands about 5-foot-7 and is very reminiscent of Houston Astros’ MVP second baseman Jose Altuve, will have another season to impress the college scouts.
The Hudson Reporter Most Valuable Player is Carey, who added a .455 batting average with two homers and 25 RBI on top of his pitching prowess.
The Hudson Reporter Coach of the Year is Bayonne’s Dave Hoffmann, who guided the Bees to 16 wins, including an 11-1 record inside the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League and a berth in the finals of the county tourney against St. Peter’s. Hoffmann has now established himself as one of the top coaches in the county. He is a brilliant baseball mind.
Five players are repeat honorees from last year’s team, namely Carey, his Marauder teammate Correll Caddle, Salgado, Bayonne’s incredible catcher Shawn Paradine and Joshua Casado of Memorial, last year’s Hudson Reporter Baseball Most Valuable Player.
North Bergen’s Nick Francisco made the team in 2016, along with Carey, and he returns to the elite group in 2018.
The 2018 Hudson Reporter All-Area Softball Team features nine girls who made the team a year ago and repeated their success this season.
One of those girls achieved the feat at a different high school, as Ariel Concepcion earned the honors for the third time in her career, having twice before being honored as an All-Area pitcher from St. Dominic Academy. This year, Concepcion earned the honor playing for her hometown Secaucus Patriots.
Other repeat honorees are Jaylene Sierra and Candie Rodriguez of Ferris, Angelique Rivera, Lauren Cabrera and Keyri Felix of North Bergen, Jillian Ward of Hudson Catholic, Nikole Cabeza of Memorial and Alyssa Perez of Secaucus.
Sierra joins a rare group of earning All-Area all four years of high school. Ward and Arianna Diaz of North Bergen became three-time honorees with Concepcion.
The Hudson Reporter Softball Player of the Year is Cabeza of Memorial who put up incredible numbers. Cabeza batted .646 with 10 homers, 42 hits, 43 RBI, 39 runs scored and 44 stolen bases. Her incredible story is told in this week’s Scoreboard feature.
The Hudson Reporter Pitcher of the Year is Sierra of Ferris, who posted a 20-3 record and had 212 strikeouts in 134 innings pitched. She walked just 20 batters and surrendered just 89 hits. She ended her career with a 53-26 pitching record.
Sierra also batted an incredible .662 with one homer and 33 RBI. She had 51 hits and scored 45 runs. Sierra ended her career with an amazing 138 hits. She had an absolutely incredible career and will take those talents to Towson University in the fall.
The Hudson Reporter Most Valuable Player is Diaz of North Bergen, who returned from a serious knee injury that kept her out of the lineup all of last season. Diaz returned to glory, batting, 493 with two homers and 25 RBI. She scored 34 runs, had five doubles, five triples and 115 career hits, leading the Bruins to the Hudson County Tournament championship.
For an unprecedented second straight year, Shawn Stacevicz has been named The Hudson Reporter Coach of the Year. Stacevicz earned the honor last year leading Hudson Catholic to their first-ever softball title and then moves to North Bergen and wins a county title with the Bruins.
All in all, it was a great spring season – despite the weather – for the local baseball and softball teams. – Jim Hague.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.