Before we get to the Mondos for 2008, I apologize to Al Taliaferro, I dont believe he was 'blackballing' me from the county seeding meeting and I was wrong for saying so. I should have checked the by-laws (although, when I asked the other coaches if it was ok, they said it was, so I guess they didn't know the by-laws either). I had pleasant conversation with Mr. Stevenson yesterday and will submit a letter asking the BCWCA to amend its rules. As far as Al, he is an outstanding coach of whom I have much respect.
Now, the first Mondo (the mid-season awards) goes to....
Well, the first has to go to Mondo himself. The King of Fried Oreos in the spring, and what a game they played against Paramus Catholic in the first round of the Bergen County Tournament. An Honorary Mondo to Mondo.
The Pitcher of the (Mid) Year: Allison Schraer of Paramus has been the catalyst for a young team, taking them to the BCT quarterfinals, so has Ali Vagianos of Ridgewood but I am gonna go off script here...that's what the Mondos are all about. Holy Angels has a pair of pitchers, Krissi Gorsuch and Danielle Cuglietto who have helped make the Angels relevant and important again. The Angels did get bounced from the first round of the Bergen Tournament, but still, they have shown they are on the way back. Honorable mention to IHA sophomore Christina Miquel. Here is an exact transcript of our first conversation at the IHA Tournament.
Me: Hi Christina, nice to meet you, I'm Darren Cooper from the Record where are you from?
Me: (clearly joking) Never heard of it,
Her: Oh, its in Bergen County....
Me: (looking in disbelief) I. Was. Just. Kidding.
Her: Laughs nervously.
Special commendation to Rachel Cannata of Paramus Catholic, much has been said, and will continue to be said, but the girl has game.
Hitter of the (Mid) Year: You know, across the board, I feel like hitting seems down, I really dont have a slam dunk favorite for Hitter of the Year. Here, of course, I really like Candice Beards of PC, and I think every time I see IHA that Kelsey Trujillo has a big hit, but I will go with Ridgewood's Meg Morris here. I just like the way she plays, she can bunt for a hit, slap one by ya and run, run, run. She is quite a weapon.
Coach of the (Mid) Year: If we covered Belleville, I would give it to him, and I always appreciate the job that Andy Hauser continues to do at Passaic. Joelle Della Volpe at Hackenack has a tough job too, but I will throw some love at Brian Hay at Paramus. Brian was replacing just about everyone on the fly, but the Spartans have remained competitive.
The Pitcher of the (Mid) Year: Good lord, where do you start? Julie Shaw? Jenna Stoller? Jessica Iuliano? Katie Enright? Brittany DeMaio? Again, lets go off script, Jen Capazzi of Old Tappan has really developed into a quality starter and the Golden Knights are once again formidable in the NBIL. And look out for Wayne Hills freshman Erica Wills, I am still jazzed about that game with Pompton Lakes the other day.
The Hitter of the (Mid) Year: This Strittmatter girl at Indian Hills has had a bunch of big hits for the Braves, but I think the girl who may have become the most feared hitter in the league might be Julie Shaw of Ramapo, even with her pitching duties, she is a line drive machine. Also, commendations to Karen Ullmann of Ramsey, I just love the way she plays, and Jessica Peracky of Ramsey too, Peracky might just be the best C I have seen this year.
Coach of the (Mid) Year: Hey, let's hear it for Jen Ferrara up at Mahwah, and Sue Benjamin of Fair Lawn for keeping their girls into this season. Both face tough odds in the NBIL, but both coaches have done a darn good job of getting their girls ready to play. I mean, seriously, at this point, are we surprised at all when somebody beats somebody in the NBIL?
The Pitcher of the (Mid) Year: I know HS (Howard Stone, Varsity Club member) is a big-time Michele Graham fan. I am sorry to say I haven't seen Emily Karr pitch this season for E. Christian (contrary to popular belief, its pretty hard to see 80 teams in one 60 day stretch, but its fun trying!). Michelle Moat has had an outstanding year, and Kim Prevedel has been simply fantastic for Saddle Brook, especially recently, but it has to be Otter, I mean, doesn't it?
The Hitter of the (Mid) Year: The girl I really like here is Stephanie Gilronan of Saddle Brook, I am a big Christina Esposito fan (and I love it when Charlie yells 'Espoooooo' during games) but Gilronon really gets them going. She can hit for power and run....if we're talking pure power....Steph Pasquale of Pompton Lakes. I was also impressed with Jordana Centauro of Waldwick...also, when I showed up at the game, she gave me a big smile. That was nice of her.
The Coach of the (Mid) Year: This is an easy choice, Ryan Ramiccio of Waldwick. He lost one of his pitchers....as we all know, but all the Warriors did was reel off 11 straight after a 1-4 start.
The Pitcher of the (Mid) Year: Well, sentimentally, I could pick Queen of Peace P Jill DeMarco for coming back after getting hit in the head last year, and Dumont P Missy Fernandez, whoa, she is a fierce competitor, but the winner here has to be Jessie Shevins of Tenafly, even with the loss in the counties to Park Ridge (at Park Ridge) she has become the most feared P in the league.
The Hitter of the (Mid) Year: We'll have to double here and pick the Goldsack sisters from Rutherford...but also, I only saw her once, but Erica Cochenour of Westwood should be a 1st team All League pick, and I know River Dell has plenty of girls who can rake, but, unfortunately, I haven't seen them but for a few innings in the Mondo Tournament (see how it all comes back to Mondo?)
The Coach of the (Mid) Year: Mike Garibell of River Dell...throwing a freshman P at Ridgewood in the BCT and almost winning the game? Wow. I also love Bob Aughey of Fort Lee, when I was at the FL-Westwood game, Aughey was openly applauding the Westwood players after nice plays....which was funny because I love it when parents say "Throw it away!" (Classless) and here is an opposing coach telling the other team 'good job.'
The Pitcher of the (Mid) Year: This league is kinda top heavy, Secaucus has used a bunch of pitchers and it seems like each one is better than the next, so I give it to their whole staff, Andi Nunziato of Becton has had a good year too.
The Hitter of the (Mid) Year: Its just fun to watch JessKnapp play, she can do everything. I loved talking to Demarest coach Keith Johnson about her grand slam in the first round county game, he was amazed by her ability. But you know who wins this award? I think Michelle Moskal of Wallington is a tremendous player and hasn't gotten enough respect.
The Coach of the (Mid) Year: Hey, John Galante has done some good things at North Arlington this year, and give Jill Clementi some props for the job she has done at Wood-Ridge (Jill had me in stitches at the IHA-Dumont game, telling me stories of her first year on the job), but I have said it before, I will say it again, I think the job done by John Galka and staff at St. Mary has just been terrific.
The Pitcher of the (Mid) Year: This is a funky, fun league, you know why? There aren't really any dominant pitchers in the league, it makes for an exciting brand of softball. The Little General, Gabby Balmaseda has had her moments for Dwight-Englewood, so has Kelly Madan of Emerson, but I guess the award goes to Jackie Masterson of Park Ridge, she has come up big for the Owls.
The Hitter of the (Mid) Year: New Milford has a ton of good hitters, Rebecca McClure may be the best. I cant believe that Kelsey Wimmershoff of Park Ridge is only a frosh, what a player she will be, but the hitter of the (Mid) year has to be Julia Schneider from D-E. I think she is the 1 girl that every team tries to pitch around in that league.
The Coach of the (Mid) Year: For the second year in a row, its not even close, Mike Doto of Cresskill. What an amazing turnaround for the Cougars, who are now in the thick of the league race. Brad DiRupo of Bogota always gets the most out of what he has as well.
(special note...our realm of "North Jersey" only covers a few of the teams in this league)
The Pitcher of the (Mid) Year: Can I make it Amanda Stacevicz of Mount St. Dominic? Well, I guess I can, but we dont really cover the Mount...she is fantastic though. Its gotta be Megan Brain of Pequannock, although as I write this, today is the day of the Morris County Tourny semis....I dont want to be too flip here or anything, but its the biggest game of her HS career to this point. Special commendation to Lauren Shaw of Wayne Valley, the Indians are on fire lately.
The Hitter of the (Mid) Year: Tara Earley of Pequannock gets the nod, good story today by Andy Vasquez on her. (Stacevicz could win this award too). I also like Brittany Evanick of West Milford, she just gets the job done. I hope this doesnt turn into a lost season for West Milford with all of their injuries....they are still alive in both counties...and will make states, but we will see.
The Coach of the (Mid) Year: I think Lonnie Smith has done a tremendous job at Lakeland this year, last year, he went through some issues on and off the field, but Lakeland...is still young...but they are playing at a high level and their ceiling is tremendous.
Thus endeth the 2008 Mondos. Fried Oreos, for everyone! (ice cream for me)