SCOREBOARD Red Wings enjoy offensive explosion

Olacio spearheads Hoboken’s incredible barrage

The Hoboken High School softball team lost their first two games of the season in non-descript fashion to Hudson Catholic and Kearny. The Red Wings pretty much slept through those two setbacks, scoring a total of four runs.
“We didn’t hit,” said second-year Hoboken head coach Vinnie Johnson. “So we lost. It was that simple.”
What happened next isn’t as simple. In fact, it defies logic.
The Red Wings started to tear the cover off the softball. Every single batter in the lineup began to mash it. They scored 12 runs against perennial local power North Bergen. They scored 15 against Memorial. To top it off, they scored 22 times against Ferris.
These are football scores, not softball totals. Just to keep everyone sane, the final score against Ferris was 22-15. That’s not a misprint.
“I just for the life of me can’t figure it out,” Johnson said. “Honestly, I’m a little tongue tied by it all. I don’t understand it.”
Johnson, who has been coaching softball on all levels from Little League to recreation to high school for the past 30 years, said that the win over Ferris was like nothing he had ever witnessed.
“Before the game, I was a little nervous, because Ferris always has a good team,” Johnson said. “I knew they had been close in a lot of their games, so I didn’t want to sleep on them. But we went up 12-0 in the third inning.”
The Red Wings pushed the lead to 17-5 in the fourth inning and were on the verge of winning by the 10-run mercy rule, when the Bulldogs mounted a comeback.
“Our pitcher didn’t have a good day,” Johnson said. “She hit four batters and then all of a sudden, it was 17-11.”
And the final score was a ridiculous 22-15, a score that you don’t generally find in the lowest of Little League, never mind the defending NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I state champions.
The Red Wings then went out and defeated Memorial, 15-2.
So after scoring just four runs in their first two games, the Red Wings exploded for 66 runs in the next four games.
That just doesn’t happen.
“I think beating North Bergen the way we did was big,” Johnson said. “It just clicked from there. I’ll say it again. If we hit, no one can beat us. We’re hitting the ball right now.”
And it’s not just one player. Every single regular is contributing to the barrage, but none more than senior shortstop Naomi Olacio, who has collected an astounding 13 hits in her last 15 at-bats and has more than 20 RBI.
“The first two games of the year, Naomi hit the ball hard, but it was right at someone,” Johnson said. “They made the plays on her. Now she gets a hit almost every single time she’s up at bat.”
Johnson was asked if he ever remembered having a player on such a hot streak.
“Maybe Angelique Nieves [when she played for Johnson and head coach Ravon Anderson at High Tech],” Johnson said. “But even Angie never had a streak like this. She worked hard all winter with hitting coaches and her father. Everyone is trying to get Naomi into college.”
More than likely, Olacio will take the junior college route upon graduation.
“If she continues this way, she can definitely break some records,” Johnson said.
Another torrid Red Wing hitter is senior outfielder Destini Gidden, who is also swinging a hot bat.
“She’s another one on a tear,” Johnson said of Gidden, who had five hits in six at-bats against Ferris. “She’s our power hitter.”
Olacio bats No. 3, Gidden No. 4. Now that’s the Mile Square City’s version of Murderer’s Row.
The Red Wings are also blessed with a 1-2 power punch from a sensational set of sisters, namely sophomore twins Jaeda and Alizea Henriquez, the daughters of former Hoboken High grid star Anthony Henriquez.
Jaeda Henriquez is the third baseman, with Alizea a fixture behind the plate. Jaeda is the team’s No. 2 hitter and Alizea bats No. 5.
“The twins are doing very well,” Johnson said. “They really help us out.”
Freshman Natalie Viton is the team’s starting pitcher and leadoff hitter.
“She’s been pitching for me since she was 11 years old,” Johnson said. “She just keeps getting better as she goes on. She’s constantly working. She had a bad day against Ferris and came back strong. When she’s on, we’re very good.”
Viton did contribute in the Ferris win, belting a home run.
Junior Taylor Barron is the team’s first baseman.
“She’s been coming around lately,” Johnson said.
Haven’t they all?
Alicia Nazario is the starter in right field. She has also been a terror at the plate of late.
“I would say that with the numbers they’re producing, it’s one of the best lineups I’ve ever seen,” Johnson said. “From 1 through 6, they’re all hitting the ball.”
Junior Vianna Ortiz is the team’s left fielder and sophomore Rayza Lopez rounds out the starters at second base.
Johnson is not about to cry about the Red Wings’ offensive prowess.
“I can’t complain at all,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to say a word. It is crazy. I have no idea what they’re going to bring to the park every day. We have proven now that we can hit the ball against anyone. As long as we keep winning. If we win convincingly, who cares? It makes you relax. It’s a lot of fun because you never know who’s going to show up.”
Johnson said he doesn’t remember any team having a lineup with the potency of the Red Wings.
“Nothing this good,” Johnson said. “Maybe you have one or two hitters, maybe three the most. But we have at least six. And when they’re all hitting, that lineup is scary. If we hit the ball, no one can touch us. We’re hitting now and everyone’s hitting.”
Johnson has been around the sport long enough to know that the hot hitting pace doesn’t always stick around.
“I hope we don’t go into a slump,” Johnson said. “I just hope we can remain consistent.”
Like the last four games and not the first two, that’s for sure.

Jim Hague can be reached at
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