Move over, Nazareth girls basketball. There’s room for more than just one successful female team at the East Flatbush school.
After not winning a single game last year, Lady Kingsmen softball has won five straight games and is 6-2 (as of press time) in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division II – their best start in coach Oggie Quiles’ four years at the helm.
“I think with the girls basketball team winning it’s contagious, not only with softball but with all the teams,” Quiles said after his team beat St. John’s Prep, 11-8, on April 25 in Astoria. “Boys basketball did great. Our baseball team is off to a great start. Everybody wants to win now. Everybody saw what it is and they wanna be part of that.”
Nazareth’s girls basketball team won the New York State Federation Class AA championship last month. The softball squad has the modest goal of winning its division title. The Lady Kingsmen stand in second place currently behind St. Saviour with a rematch against the Pandas looming Wednesday.
“I think our basketball team influenced us to win our championship this year,” catcher Bianca Dorsinvil said. “Hopefully we can get it running. When they win, we win too.”
Two girls from that basketball title-winning team – Brianna Sidney and Shanice Woodson – have traded in their sneakers for cleats and made a pretty smooth transition. Sidney has been Quiles’ regular first baseman from the start and is producing with the bat. Woodson played one of her first games last Monday and ended up with the game ball after throwing out a girl at first from right field, snaring a line drive at second base and coming up with an RBI single.
“Both of the basketball girls are athletic, so they’re picking it up pretty easy,” Quiles said.
Those two have added to one of the team’s greatest strength: its speed on the basepaths with girls like Arnell Murray and Joi Ann Williams. But the star so far has been in the circle – ace Stacy Peralta. The senior only began pitching last year, but has now rounded into form as one of the division’s top windmillers. She struck out 10 and didn’t allow an earned run against St. John’s Prep on Monday.
“Stacy is dynamite,” Woodson said. “She’s nice. You see how she pitches? She got heat. She’s really impressive. She can go real far with this softball stuff. She’s really good at it.”
Peralta said it was hard to take last year. She plays travel ball with Quiles and the OLS Hustlers over the summer – the only Naz player who competes on an outside team – and she wasn’t used to that kind of losing or playing with inexperienced players.
“We had to keep our head up,” Peralta said. “I had to keep my head up because I was the captain. Everyone was new. I had to keep my head up for them.”
Those newcomers have gained experience now and learned to trust one another. Peralta sees more dedication, too, with less girls missing practice and games.
“I didn’t envision this kind of start,” Quiles said. “They’ve impressed me at times and I’m not usually one that gets easily impressed. They have exceeded my expectations and I hope they continue to.”
With its hot start, Nazareth has a chance to bring another banner back to its school. The blueprint has already been set by the girls basketball team.
“Everybody,” Quiles said, “wants to be the next one to bring a championship home.”