Athlete of the Week — The hits keep coming for Belleville’s Ayden Carrero

At 5-foot-9 and 130 pounds, Ayden Carrero knows that power hitting is not currently a part of his game. But Belleville’s sophomore shortstop is ok with that and instead just takes a different approach at the plate, one tailor made for his skill set.

“I definitely can’t hit it as far as some others,” Carrero said. “I just go for base hits.”

To say the strategy is working is an understatement. Carrero has six consecutive multi-hit games for the surprising Buccaneers. During this streak, Carrero is hitting .667 (14-for-21) with four walks, 14 runs, 10 RBI and 10 stolen bases to help lead Belleville to seven consecutive wins.

Carrero’s incredible hitting streak makes him The Observer Athlete of the Week. He is the first recipient of the spring season.

For the season, Carrero is hitting .536, his 15 hits and 15 runs both currently rank among the top 10 in the state per If that wasn’t enough, Carreo is 1-0 in two starts on the mound, with six strikeouts in seven innings and a fine defender at shortstop.

“I feel very confident right now,” said Carrero. “I’ve been hitting every game so I’m feeling great heading up to bat. (The baseball) looks huge in my eyes right now. I’m not striking out and I’m getting a base hit nearly every time.”

“Ayden’s been doing a lot of good things. Offensively, he’s been batting No. 2 and we bat him there because he has really good bat control,” head coach Joe Sorce said. “He’s a guy we can do a lot of things with. He’s dropped a few good bunts for us and is a threat in that regard. He’s a good all-around hitter. He can hit a good off-speed pitch, he jumps on fastballs, he’s a really good base runner and we can hit-and-run with him.”

Carrero’s bat control, ability to play within himself and staying composed in the moment all came together in Saturday’s 8-5 win over Verona when he hit a two-run single in the top of the ninth inning. One at-bat earlier, he had a hustle double as part of a three-run top of the seventh to force extra innings.

“He’s had some real clutch hits,” said Sorce. “(Saturday in the ninth inning), that was a real clutch hit. He also had a hit in the seventh inning when Crismel De Leon led off the inning with a hit and then Ayden hit a blooper down the right field line. He’s such a smart player that read the ball and he took second and got himself in scoring position, he’s really playing great.”

Last year, Carrero played almost exclusively on the JV level, appearing in two games late in the season. Even before opening day, Carrero was penciled in to start at shortstop and hit in the second spot, a testament to his skill and a baseball IQ beyond his years.

“It’s not common (at this age), but Ayden’s got a good baseball IQ and he listens well,” Sorce said. “He’s a real student of the game for a 16-year-old. He loves the game, he works hard. Ayden’s definitely further along than we thought, but I’m not surprised that he’s playing well.

“I really think he’s going to be one of the better infielders we’ve had in the 17 years I’ve been here. He’s a really smooth fielder, he’s playing well offensively. I think Ayden has the potential to definitely play college baseball somewhere. He can play and he’s going to get better.”

Now that Carrero’s firmly established himself on varsity, his goal is a pretty simple one – just keep hitting.

“I just plan to keep hitting this way,” Carrero said. “I want to get two hits every game and limit the errors (defensively).”

Carrero’s teammates have pointed out that such a pace would mean a 50-hit season. While it’s certainly ambitious, with the way Carrero’s currently hitting, such a goal suddenly seems more in reach.

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)