By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
After having a successful softball career that ended at North Arlington High School in 1982, Carol Dorazio always wanted to return to her alma mater as head coach.
When the position opened up last year, Dorazio was a bit reluctant at first, considering her old high school coach, John Galante, had the head coaching slot, until the Board of Education decided last July not to re-hire Galante.
“He was one of the first people I called,” Dorazio said of Galante. “I wanted to make sure he was fine with it. We definitely have some big shoes to fill, because John was here for 35 years. But it was a dream come true for me to coach my alma mater.”
It also helped that Dorazio was bringing along a personal assistant coach – namely her daughter, Samantha Veneziano, who was a standout hurler for the Vikings, graduating in 2007.
“She went through the whole hiring process like me,” Dorazio said of her daughter, who graduated from William Paterson and is now a teaching assistant in North Arlington. “What’s better than having a motherdaughter combo?”
Both Dorazio and her daughter were great pitchers during their days at NA, so it’s only natural that both should work with the Vikings’ hurlers.
“We both handle the pitchers,” Dorazio said.
But it helps when you have a senior pitcher who is already accustomed to the grind, namely senior do-everything Taylor Barth.
“Taylor needs very little handling,” Dorazio said. “She is definitely a seasoned pitcher.”
Dorazio said that she has enjoyed the dichotomy she has had with her daughter.
“We come home now and talk softball all the time,” Dorazio said. “We constantly talk strategies and how to pitch to certain batters. It’s constantly softball. It’s been fun. I respect my daughter so much, because she knows so much about the game. I respect her opinion. In fact, she doesn’t even call me ‘Mom’ at the field anymore. She calls me, ‘Coach.’”
The Vikings have another assistant coach in Samantha Cain.
Barth is the key to the team’s success, both on the mound and at the plate.
“She does a lot of everything,” Dorazio said of Barth, who is the team’s No. 2 hitter and is already getting on base at a .455 clip to begin the season. “She’s very fast and when she gets on base, she does a lot of things. She’s also doing great as a pitcher. She has unbelievable control, yet throws hard.”
The team’s catcher is junior Marissa Piscal, who is off to a sizzling start. Piscal had a homer and six RBI in one win last week and is hitting .600 with three homers and 16 RBI in just four games.
“I’m not surprised at all with what she’s done,” Dorazio said of Piscal, who had two doubles in the Vikings’ 9-3 loss to Kearny last Saturday morning. “I’ve seen this kid play her whole life. I knew this was coming. She’s an amazing hitter and she’s so coachable. She loves the game and loves to play.”
The first baseman is junior Meghan Beyer, who is a great fielder.
“I called her a Hoover the other day, because she’s like a vacuum, scooping up everything,” Dorazio said. “But she didn’t know what a Hoover was. I felt very old. But she catches everything over at first. She’s also a good hitter.”
Sophomore Arielle Castellanos is the team’s second baseman.
“She has a lot of speed,” Dorazio said. “She can bunt and hit, so we look for her to get on base. As a fielder, she has the ability to turn and get the double play, because she gets to the ball quick.”
Sophomore Danica Krawczyk is the team’s shortstop.
“She can handle the responsibilities at short,” Dorazio said. “She’s tough and knows the game. She also pitches, so she’ll get her chances out there.”
Junior Samantha Veloso is the Vikings’ third baseman.
“She’s a good fielder with a strong arm,” Dorazio said. Junior Tiziana Cristiano is the team’s left fielder.
“She’s very flexible and agile,” Dorazio said.
Senior Ashley Meyers is the team’s centerfielder.
“She’s having a great start to the season,” Dorazio said. “She has a .500 on-base percentage and a .455 batting average. She’s also a very good defender in center.” Dorazio has been using a host of sophomores in right field in Alexandria Zaros, Megan Arb and Missy Torres, who has already been the Vikings’ resident jackof- all-trades.
“I can put Missy anywhere,” Dorazio said.
The Vikings are off to a 2-2 start for the season, which takes a tougher road this week with games against Saddle Brook, Hasbrouck Heights and Wood- Ridge.
“We have a lot of talent,” Dorazio said. “The future looks very bright. We have some girls who can hit the ball. I think we opened some eyes with our offense. I don’t want these girls to be afraid to fail, because that’s when they will.”
Dorazio said that she had no problem facing a Group IV program like Kearny.
“I don’t want to be afraid to take risks,” Dorazio said. “I like taking risks.”
So when the season began, did Dorazio think she would actually be coaching with her daughter?
“No, I never thought that would happen,” Dorazio said. “It’s been a lot of fun, but there’s a lot of pressure involved. Everyone is watching now, because I have big shoes to fill. I’m confident these girls will come around and be a strong team.”