In 2004, John Biasi along with Pam McCabe (current Triton softball coach) and Dawn Mader (current Paul VI softball coach) founded a softball program that has become home for the region's most talanted players.
The Jersey Gators were formed and started as a 12U team, moved to 14U and then jumped right to 18U where they continue to rule the diamond as the region's best team.
The concept at the time was simple: provide a high level of training and develop players so they can get prepared to play at the collegiate level. They worked on developing good technical skills along with a strong work ethic which ultimately resulted in a team that competes well with other nationally ranked teams.
Training takes place a few times a week in Laurel Springs and somtimes in a "swamp". The Gator's have a 25' x 25' indoor facility they dubbed "The Swamp," where they work on hitting fundamentals, fielding fundamentals, footwork and basic mechanics. Those sessions are sometimes videotaped and used as a training tool to further develp the girls' skills. They also provide the tape to college coaches as another recruiting tool.
The roster (found below) reads like an all-star team of players who, during the high school season, can be found competing against one another but clearly unite to play at a very high level as teammates the rest of the year.
Several players have smashed records or reached significant milestones this past season like Jessica Hughes of Washington Township High School who got her 100th hit early in the season as a junior, or Valerie Pineiro who matched an Audubon High School record by becoming the school's second girl to score 1,000 points in basketball and smack 100 hits in softball.
"I heard about the coaching staff and their approach to teaching softball skills to help get you ready for college, that's what brought me to this team", said Tori Danner. Danner, who graduated from Kingsway High School this year, will be joining fellow Gator product Kristen Turner at Iona University this fall.
Biasi, who played semi-pro baseball in an Independent League for Florence (Ky.) Freedom and collegiately at Rutgers Camden, found the transition from baseball to softball easy. "It is a more abreviated game, the movements need to be quicker with base paths that are 30 feet less then baseball," Biasi said.
The Gators' season starts right after high school season and continues until late November. Each year they do 13 to 14 high-level tournaments, all designed to get their players recruited to college.
This year the Gators have already played in five tournaments and recorded an 18-5-2 record. This weekend they are travelling to Binghamton, N.Y. to play in an event called the Tournament of Champions. The Gators are the defending champs.
As soon as they return from that, they'll be going to Atlanta to play in an invitational tournament, the Triple Crown Nationals, where they are currently ranked 78th out of 656 teams by Triple Crown Sports.
"Train at a high level, teach the girls to play at the next level, and get them recruited is our main focus," Biasi said.
Biasi personally takes an interest in every girl on the team and contacts well-known programs and has done a tremendous job placing his players.
"This is a great group of girls to play with, it's been a lot of fun and helped me get ready for college this fall," said Brianne Innamorato who just graduated from Bishop Eustace and will attend Florida Gulf Coast University this fall.
Often teams of any sport that have so many committed players struggle to keep a full roster at this time of year. That doesn't seem to be the case with this group, they still have seveal tournaments to go, all far from home, yet they all seem to just want to play together a little longer.
This is indictative of the positive environment Biasi brings to this team.
We'll have full coverage of the Jersey Gators tournament progress throughout the summer. Check out a photo gallery of the team, below.
The Jersey Gators will hold tryouts July 29 and 31. Details can be found on their website, http://www.jerseygators.com/.
|Player||High School||Position - #||Number||College Commitment|
|Sydney Ginsberg||Rye Country||3B/2B||2||Yale|
|Brianne Innamorato||Bishop Eustace||SS/2B||20||Florida Gulf Coast|
|Mandy McCarthy||Pearl River||P/3B||22||Holy Cross|
|Valerie Pineiro||Audubon||3B/1B||26||La Salle|
|Shannon Puther||Clearview||OF/IF||11||St. Joseph's|
|Connor Gilligan||Shawnee||3B/1B||35||Not Committed|
|Taylor Gilligan||Shawnee||C/IF||55||Not Committed|
|Jess Hughes||Washington Twp.||SS/3B||44||Fordham|
|Kaitlyn Konopka||Shawnee||OF/2B||4||Not Committed|
|Jackie Martin||Cumberland Regional||C/OF||30||Providence|
|Cori Pisauro||Merion Mercy||2B/OF||16||Not Committed|
|Carly Testa||St. Joseph's||OF||24||Not Committed|
|Taylor Brown||Pennsville||2B/SS||5||Not Committed|
|Alexis Goeke||The Hun School||P/IF||99||Not Committed|
|Haley Hulitt||Cumberland Regional||P/1B||13||Not Committed|
|Marissa Cappello||Gloucester Catholic||2015||P||44|
|Samantha DiClementi||Washington Twp.||2015||1B/OF||10|
|Hunter Irvin||Egg Harbor||2015||P||27|
|Allison Saul||Cumberland regional||2016||C/1B||9|
|Sam Sack||Paul VI||2017||C/3B||15|