Indian Hills has faith in Sarah Stocker by Darren Cooper of The Record
OAKLAND – If it’s a piano performance you desire then Daniel Stocker is your man.
When Indian Hills needs a base hit or a stellar play at first base, they turn to Daniel’s younger sister Sarah.
Sarah Stocker, a junior first baseman for the Braves is one of the top players in North Jersey. She has committed to Boston College, which is great and all but a problem for her brother. He goes to Boston University.
“I committed and he said look, I love you and I’ll support you and cheer you on, but I can’t stand your school,” Sarah said laughing. “I’m OK with that, you know, we have that family rivalry going on and we’re not even there yet.”
Sarah said that playing baseball/softball is the family tradition, but while Daniel became enamored with the piano (Sarah does not play and instrument), Sarah got hooked on sports. She played a little bit of soccer growing up, then switched to softball full-time. She also bowled this past winter for the Braves.
“There is this aspect of softball where you’re an individual because when it’s just you and the pitcher, but you always have your teammates there cheering you on and always there to pick you up,” said Sarah, 17.
Veteran Indian Hills softball coach Joe Leicht said he first heard about Sarah in fourth grade when assistant coach Neil Malmud told her she was a good hitter. Sarah started attending Oakland Softball Summer Camp.
SOFTBALL: North Jersey Top 25 rankings for April 9
“Every swing she takes in practice – and we take many swings – is done 100 percent,” said Leicht. “She never takes a lazy swing. So she perfects her swing, her craft, with every swing she takes.”
Stocker says her father was her first batting coach, but she gives credit to Leicht and assistant coach Phil Lomenzo for helping her along the way. She batted .532 last season with 15 doubles and 36 RBI. The biggest lesson they have taught her is to have a bit of patience.
“I am the biggest perfectionist I know,” said Sarah. “So when you get down 0-2, you have to think that you have three strikes for a reason, so just focus on the next pitch. Also, Coach Leicht’s daughters pitched, so he knows a little bit about how a pitcher thinks, so if you see an outside pitch, he teaches you to think what is coming up next?”
“She has great confidence in her ability, regardless of how great the pitcher is that she’s facing,” said Leicht. “She can take a joke, laugh at herself and give it back to us, but when she’s up at bat she is as lethal as anyone I have ever coached at the plate.”
The Braves were 6-0 heading into Friday’s game against Pascack Valley and are currently ranked No. 2 in the North Jersey Top 25, and are scheduled to face No. 1 Ramsey in the final game at the Emerson/EDSAF Tournament Sunday. It’s a big early-season showdown between two public school powers, and could also be a preview of the Bergen County Tournament final.
Sarah swears she isn’t thinking about that just yet. She knows a concert builds to a grand finale, so does the softball season.
“You have to play all seven innings,” said Sarah. “Everyone can make predictions, but at the end everyone will know where you stand.”