Teaneck off to big start by Chris Iseman of The Record
The necessary pieces were all in place for Teaneck to have a big season.
Two stellar pitchers in sophomores Mika Rivera and Kayla Merrow. One of North Jersey’s top all-around players in Ashley Sosa, the Highwaywomen’s only returning senior. And a team filled with young, athletic players determined to build off last year’s strong performances.
It was just a matter of putting it all together on the field.
Through its first seven games, Teaneck has had no problem doing just that.
The Highwaywomen have become one of the biggest early-season stories in North Jersey softball. They have won six of their first seven games, with their only loss coming against NV/Demarest back in its first game of the season.
In a solid Big North National Division that also includes NV/Old Tappan and the Norsewomen, the Highwaywomen have quickly become contenders, outscoring opponents 39-12.
Rivera is 3-1 with a 0.50 ERA, while Merrow is 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA.
Coach Richie Aponte said each pitcher has improved on putting hitters away once they get ahead in the count, something they each struggled to do last season.
Rutgers-bound Sosa and Lauren McGriff each have seven RBI.
Sosa is batting .333, although that average belies how well she’s been hitting the ball. She’s just been hitting them right at fielders.
“She’s like an assistant coach,” Aponte said. “I let her do what she’s got to do with the girls, and she leads by examples.”
Sophomore third baseman Erin Emery leads the team with a .636 batting average with five RBI.
“She’s spraying the ball throughout the whole field,” Aponte said. “She’s moving along beautifully.”
Teaneck earned its biggest win of the season to this point when it defeated NV/Old Tappan, 3-2, on Thursday. Amber Improgo, Janiah Luciano and McGriff each drove in a run, while Erin Emery went 3-for-3 off UCLA-bound Julie Rodriguez.
The Highwaywomen are playing a tough schedule this season, and will draw two tough tests this week. They play Paramus Catholic today, and then go up against NV/Old Tappan again on Thursday.
Aponte said he has a team of disciplined, hard-working playing time who all get along well. In a difficult conference where no game is season, that has been crucial.
For now, the Highwaywomen are just looking to keep improving.
“We’re not at our peak yet,” Aponte said. “I hope it continues so we get better and better every day.”