NA softball team is hitting in bunches


The North Arlington softball team is enjoying its best season in recent years, posting a 10-4 record as the season nears the halfway mark.

According to head coach Carol Dorazio, the Vikings are doing so well this season because they are simply mashing the ball.

“Our bats have been carrying us,” said Dorazio, the former standout Viking pitcher who returned to take over the program three years ago. “We’re getting hitting throughout the lineup.”

It’s true. The Vikings are batting better than .370 as a team. They have several players batting better than .400. It’s a group of mashers wearing Viking uniforms.

Leading the way is senior Marissa Piscal, who is doing a little bit of everything for the Vikings these days.

Piscal, one of the top hitters in northern New Jersey, is usually the Vikings’ catcher. But an injury to starting pitcher Danica Krawczyk forced Piscal to move from behind the plate to the pitching circle last week and she pitched brilliantly.

“The last time she pitched was in middle school,” Dorazio said of Piscal. “I guess sitting behind the plate for as long as she has helped her to learn how to pitch. She naturally knew what to do.”

Piscal hurled nearly nine scoreless innings last week, helping the Vikings win games against Paterson Charter and Becton Regional.

Piscal is also batting a team-high .440 with two homers and 10 RBI. The senior is headed to Montclair State in the fall and will play softball for the Red Hawks.

“She’s just a phenomenal athlete,” Dorazio said of Piscal.

Another key contributor is junior shortstop Arielle Castellanos.

“Arielle was our second baseman last year and we moved her to shortstop this year,” Dorazio said. “She’s been a great leadoff hitter for us. She provides great leadership for a junior. She makes things happen.”
Castellanos is batting .429 with a team-high 19 runs scored and 20 RBI. She also leads the team with 14 stolen bases. She does a little bit of everything.

“She’s also turned three double plays this year from shortstop, so she’s excellent in the field as well,” Dorazio said.

Krawczyk has been a solid pitcher all season, before the injury last week.

“She has good velocity on her pitches,” Dorazio said of the junior hurler. “She’s a good leader. She’s not committed to the sport as much as I’d like her to be, but that will come. She knows the game.”

Meghan Beyer is the first baseman. Headed for Drew University in the fall, Beyer is batting .421 with one homer and 12 RBI.

“She can play third base as well,” Dorazio said. “She’s very versatile.”

Junior Missy Torres is the team’s second baseman.

“She does everything for us,” Dorazio said. “She is a phenomenal defensive second baseman. She gets to balls that no one else would think of catching. She makes solid plays.”

Torres is hitting .371.

Senior Samantha Veloso is the third baseman. Veloso has a knack of getting on base.

“She’s the queen of the base on balls,” Dorazio said. “She takes a lot of walks. She had 16 walks all of last season and she’s already reached that mark this year. She’s a very disciplined hitter.”
Junior Megan Arb is the left fielder. Arb adds a lot of character and color to the team. She’s also another solid hitter, batting at a .368 clip.

Senior Tiziana Cristiano is the centerfielder. She started last year for the Vikings and this year, Cristiano has flourished, batting .408 in the No. 2 slot in the lineup.

“She’s very quick and sacrifices herself a lot,” Dorazio said. “She’s a good bunter.”

Junior Allie Zaros is the team’s right fielder. Zaros is batting .341 with four homers and 18 RBI.

“And her homers go over the fence,” Dorazio said. “She has a load of power.”

The designated player is usually sophomore Alyssa Miller, who also pitches.

Miller has thrown 31 innings this season and struck out 40 batters. Miller is also left-handed, which gives the Vikings a different look.

Junior Samiah Taylor never played softball before this season, but Dorazio is working with the speedy Taylor to become a slap hitter.

“She’s lightning fast, so we have to teach her how to slap, how to bunt and how to steal,” Dorazio said. “She’s so raw, but she’s learning a lot.”

Taylor has six hits in 11 at-bats and has seven stolen bases.

“She’s putting the ball in play,” Dorazio said.

Another key contributor is sophomore Alessandra Pronti, who doesn’t have a set position.

“We can play her anywhere,” Dorazio said. “She plays second base and the outfield for us. She’s going to be a permanent fixture for us down the road.”

The Vikings have 10 wins already. They won 14 all of last year. It looks as if the Vikings might get a berth in the Bergen County Tournament this year. They have already clinched a berth in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I playoffs, so it has been a successful campaign to date for Dorazio and the Vikings.

“We’re having a great season,” Dorazio said. “We were hopeful to do better this year. I just hope we keep it up right now.”

As long as Piscal keeps hitting and leading the team, the Vikings should be in good shape.




The North Arlington softball team has been led by the clutch power hitting of senior Marissa Piscal (left), who won two games pitching last week, and junior Arielle Castellanos, who is the team’s sparkplug and leadoff hitter. Photos by Jim Hague



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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”