Hoboken native Cunning enjoys two-sport senior year; heads to Italy with a USA team; Secaucus’ Kirvin, Weehawken’s Colon receive All-NJIC honors

Hoboken native and Hudson Catholic graduate Kristin Cunning laces a single to centerfield for Team USA in the recent AIST trip to Italy.

Kristin Cunning wanted to make sure that her senior year at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut, was going to be a memorable one.

The Hoboken native and Hudson Catholic graduate first went to Albertus Magnus to play softball. Albertus Magnus is a small private liberal arts college that features a student body comprised of 66 percent women and 33 percent men. It’s hard to determine what the other one percent actually is.

There are approximately 1,200 undergraduate students and 500 graduate students at the school. It’s located in New Haven, which is also the home of Yale, but the school has 50 beautiful acres with spacious trees and hills.

So Cunning was content on being a softball player in college, even though she did play soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and then softball in the spring at Hudson Catholic.

“When I first got to into college, I always thought I would play just softball,” Cunning said. “I thought I had to pick one, so I picked softball.”

Cunning played strictly softball for her first two years at Albertus Magnus. She fit in well with her softball teammates, but she still had a love for the game of basketball.

One day, Cunning was just fooling around with her friends, playing basketball.

“I was playing for fun in a pickup game,” Cunning said. “One of the girls I was playing with asked me if I would join the team. She said that they needed more players. I figured I could get great run playing basketball and get in great shape for softball. I realized that I did love basketball and missed playing it. I didn’t realize how well I would do. It was definitely a challenge.”

So Cunning became a two-sport collegiate athlete, a total rarity on the college scene. Cunning majored in human services with a minor in Latin and American studies.

“I’m hoping to get into a hospital and perhaps do social work,” Cunning said. “Maybe health management. I’m on the job search now.”

Cunning enjoyed a great senior campaign. The basketball team posted a 23-4 record with Cunning averaging 8.8 points in 26 games.

“It was definitely a challenge, but the coaches all helped me in a big way,” Cunning said. “We had six freshmen come in. I didn’t know what to expect, but we ended up having a great season.”

The softball team won 19 games and posted a winning record. Cunning was a utility infielder and also ended up pitching 40 innings and had a 2-4 record in 12 games. At the plate, Cunning batted .329 with nine doubles, one home run and 19 RBI in 26 games.

“Albertus Magnus was a great choice for me,” Cunning said. “Playing the two sports, I didn’t know how well I would do. It was definitely a challenge, but it was well worth it.”

Cunning’s year got even better. Her softball coach, Ed Emielita, recommended Cunning to play for a team called AIST, which stands for American International Softball Team. It was a United States national team that was headed to Italy to play four games against Italian teams in 11 days.

“I had never been to Italy,” Cunning said. “I never thought I would be playing softball for Team USA. It was a shock to me. I never thought it would be me. Being involved with Team USA was like a dream come true. To finish my softball career in Italy, it really was like a dream come true.”

Cunning played in all four games for Team USA, who won three of the four games there. Cunning collected four hits in seven at-bats in Italy and she played centerfield in all four games, a position she had not played since grade school.

“All the players were guaranteed playing time,” Cunning said. “We faced all travel teams from Italy. We played games in Rome, Florence, San Marino and Milan. It was a perfect way for me to end my career.”

And every day, the Team USA softball team did something of the tourist variety.

“We did tours during the day and played games at night,” Cunning said. “We did a lot of sightseeing. It was great. I definitely wasn’t expecting this. I’m glad it happened.”…

The North Jersey Interscholastic Conference released its All-Conference baseball teams and two local players earned the year-end honors.

In the Liberty Division, A.J. Kirvin of Secaucus was selected as the All-NJIC Liberty designated hitter by the league’s coaches. The senior batted .412, with 28 hits and an astounding 30 stolen bases. Kirvin also held his own on the mound, posting a 2-2 record with a 3.13 earned run average in 15 2/3 innings pitched.

And in the Meadowlands Division, James Colon of Weehawken was selected as an infielder. Colon’s statistics were inconclusive, but as a junior, he has already been listed by recruiting websites Max Preps, Perfect Game USA and the Baseball Factory, so Colon obviously has a bright future…

It’s a great honor for both young men that somehow got overlooked at the close of the recently concluded baseball season. – Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com.

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