By Dylan Butler and William Hernandez
John Bowne coach Bruce Bitterman said the realignment in PSAL is all about pitching.
“Having a windmill pitcher is the key to everything,” he said. “The addition of the B division is a longtime coming. I’ve been doing this the last eight years and we haven’t made the playoffs because we didn’t have a windmill pitcher.”
Bitterman’s praise of the decision to add a B division was echoed by every other softball coach in Queens.
The Wildcats, who were a respectable 7-7 last year and defeated quarterfinalist Cardozo, only lost to the elite teams in their division last season, Bayside, Cardozo, Francis Lewis and Van Buren.
Based on their previous success, Bowne should be one of the favorites in Queens B-III this year. Standouts include sophomore shortstop Marissa Singh, senior Nyoka Pierce, a four-year player who will move behind the plate after playing first base last season, and sophomore Krystin Mendes will probably be one of the top third basemen in the division, but may have to pitch.
Richmond Hill was also 7-7 last year and has several key players returning this season.
Senior pitcher/third baseman Eva Pardo is a second-year player and should bat cleanup. Junior Janiri Barias will play first base, Jaspree Kaur, a junior catcher, is also being trained to be a windmill pitcher and senior Lisa Cubair, who is the MVP of the volleyball team, is also competing to become a starting pitcher.
After finishing 6-7 last year, Flushing coach Dionisio Tolentino can’t wait to start this year.
“Everyone is back this year,” he said. “This is probably one of the strongest teams in my nine years here.”
Leading that core of returning players is one of the borough’s most underrated players, senior centerfielder Rosandy Morel. Last year she batted .447 with nine home runs and 46 RBIs. Also back are four-year players Gisselle Spencer and catcher Wing Se Har, who batted .435 last season.
Also back is junior shortstop Jillian Mudryk, who batted .357 last season and senior Lizbetty Torres, who will be looked upon to provide the pitching.
Maybe it’s the change of atmosphere, but James Gildea also this may be the best team ever at Robert F. Kennedy.
Cleanup hitter, junior Maritza Hernandez is back for her second year on the team. She batted .722 last year, had six home runs and 23 RBIs in 14 games.
Four-year catcher Jessica Mermelstein will bat second after batting .481 last year with 23 stolen bases, including 10 in one game.
Jamaica was 6-16 last year, including 2-10 in division. Head coach Michael Pallisco believes if his hard working team, featuring junior pitcher Kedesha Farquahrson, junior first baseman Nichole Daley and Chirstine Simone-Cave, can cut down on the errors, the playoffs are a possibility.
Thomas Edison will likely will take its lumps this year in its first season and many of the players are still learning the basics of the game.
But head coach Rod Schatt, who also coaches the Springfield Gardens football team, says there is some potential there, especially in sophomore shortstop Marianna Marinez, sophomore pitcher Tonya Meikle and sophomore pitcher Sasha Villanueva.
Forest Hills hopes their winning ways in Queens A-I last year will follow them into their new division, Queens B-II.
Last year Forest Hills made the playoffs for the first time in four years, falling to Jane Adams, 5-3, in a first round game cut short by bad weather. Led by junior Jessica Chow, who is the team’s top pitcher and bats cleanup, the Rangers have tremendous offensive pop and with much of their lineup intact this year, should be the team to beat in Queens II-B.
“We’re just building upon last year's success,” said Forest Hills coach Jonas Garelle, whose team scored 10 or more runs in each of its 10 wins and finished in second behind Bryant in Queens A-I. “We felt we got robbed [in the first round of the playoffs] and we want to get back there this year.”
Franklin K. Lane will have something to say about Forest Hills taking the division. They went 11-3 last year while finishing second behind John Adams in Queens A-II last year. The Knights will be lead by senior Kaliopi Massalis and junior pitcher Angela Cuizio.
Newtown coach Wayne Crawford will rely on the arm of junior pitcher Monica Pahl to help his team rebound from last year’s disappointing 3-11 record in Queens A-I.
Pahl missed last season due to a left knee injury and the team struggled without her. Newtown will also look to senior centerfielder Diana Martinez, senior Yoneidy Carreno and catcher Ally Zarate to help keep pace with Forest Hills.
Grover Cleveland looks like another up and coming team after going 6-6 in division Queens A play.
Giuliana Miyashiro believes that a fundamentally sound team will push Cleveland past the .500 mark.
Seniors Laura Melo (second base) and Aurora Troche (center field) will help anchor a team with four newcomers.
The bottom half of the division will have Long Island City (3-11), Queens Vocational (2-11) and Renaissance, in its first year, looking to make a name for themselves in what is looking like a competitive division.
Campus Magnet returns just three players after a 4-10 year in Queens A-III last year. It helps though, when one of those who is back is senior pitcher Daylissa Rodney, the team’s best all-around player.
Also returning is senior Kimone Rodrigues, the Bulldogs leadoff hitter, and junior shortstop Nadricka Knight.
Head coach Abigail Michel says freshman Jissett Rodriguez is a great prospect, as is sophomores Clarissa Thomas and Renee Patton.
Diana Frank, who batted .410 last year, is one of the few returning players for Springfield Gardens, which finished 4-10.
Hillcrest hopes to improve on a disappointing 1-12 season last year and August Martin, coached by Marcelo Baez, will begin its inaugural season.
Rounding out the division are Far Rockaway and Beach Channel.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.