Harrison softball looks to continue to improve


It hasn’t always been an easy process, but the Harrison softball continued its steady progress a season ago when it won seven games including its first Hudson County Tournament victory in six years.

And while quite a few of the players that helped the Blue Tide go from two wins to four and then seven have graduated, there is still a strong veteran core, which combined with some promising underclassmen, who are looking to continue to build upon the program’s growth in recent years.

“We’ve always had a little bit of (veterans teaching the younger girls) over the last two years and you see it more as the girls are starting to grow in the program,” head coach Keith Mair said. “Every year we’ve gotten a little better and hopefully that continues.”

A big reason why Harrison believes it can continue its upward trajectory is the one-two tandem at the top of the Blue Tide lineup in juniors Rebecca Sardinha and Hailey Scocco. Sardinha is expected to leadoff for Harrison with Scocco currently set to hit second.

“They set the tone for practice and they set the tone for the lineup,” said Mair. “They’re expected to lead off and get on base.”

Scocco made an instant impact at shortstop a season ago, her first at Harrison when she hit .413 with four homers, 22 runs, 18 RBI and 23 stolen bases. Combined with a big arm at short, Scocco is one of the hidden gems in North Jersey.

Said Mair, “she can take over a game with her bat, her speed and her glove.”

Sardinha meanwhile moves from second base to third this year after hitting .342 with 17 walks, 18 runs, 13 RBI and 18 stolen bases.

“Her confidence has changed, especially the confidence in her approach (at bat),” said Mair. “She’s going up there fully locked in, ready to go.”

Sardinha isn’t the only one of the Blue Tide’s four captains changing positions this spring as Elizabeth Faulk (15 runs scored) moves from left field to first base.

The fourth of Harrison’s captains is a mainstay in the circle as Danica Carr begins her fourth season as the team’s top pitcher. Carr, who nearly cut her ERA in half last season, struck out 74 batters in 85 innings, while significantly improving her control. That continual improvement and offseason work with a pitching coach has Mair optimistic that another leap forward is in her future.

“She always tries to add a pitch,” Mair said. “She has a pitching coach who works with her so she always tries to add something to her arsenal.

“(In her first scrimmage) she came in and she pretty much dominated. She didn’t have her velocity going until later in the game, but she had everything else working pretty well.”

Madison Morales and Ally Carbajal will also see some spot innings in the circle as well.

They’ll be pitching to a new catcher in 2024 as senior Yulenny DeLeon takes over behind the plate after serving as the backup the last two seasons. Junior Helen Martinez will also see time at catcher as the backup.

Sophomore Breaghan Toal takes over as the starting second baseman.

Harrison will sport an entirely new outfield this spring. Senior Yamile Bermudez, who didn’t play last season, is back and takes over as the starting center fielder. Freshman Kyleen Galarza has emerged in preseason and will be the starter in left field. Right field is currently a three-way competition with Morales and freshman twins Thalia and Romina Sosa.

Mair is hopeful that the outfield will be bolstered later in the spring as Samantha Guerrero works her way back from an injury suffered at the start of last season.

Freshman Daniela Gutierrez will also find herself in the outfield mix as well as at first base, while senior Yanirys Amador is set to see time at several positions across the diamond.

Harrison started its season on Monday, April 1 with a home matchup against Manchester Regional. It is the first of five home games to start the year for the Blue Tide, which will host Paterson Charter on Wednesday and concludes with an April 11 matchup with Kearny.

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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 (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)