Thursday, May 23

Three Secaucus characters: from left, shortstop Julia McClure, catcher Jessie Koerner and pitcher Danielle Roesing.

Three Secaucus characters: from left, shortstop Julia McClure, catcher Jessie Koerner and pitcher Danielle Roesing.

Secaucus softball coach Cheryl Bott said her team of unique characters is like “having 15 daughters.”

A loose and close-knit bunch was working hard — but having fun — during Monday’s practice, two days after capturing the first Hudson County title in program history with a 4-2 win over top-seeded North Bergen.

There were water fights in the dugout, lots of laughs, and star shortstop Julia McClure dealing with another one of her frequent equipment dilemmas — looking everywhere, but unable to find her batting gloves.

“If it wasn’t for me, Jules would have probably missed 10 games,” said Bott, who sometimes has to play McClure’s personal equipment manager. “They’re all a mess, but they win. We’re definitely loose, that’s for sure.”

It’s Bott’s job to make it all work. After a county title and a first-round win in North 2, Group 1 over 12th-seeded Dayton, 11-0, on Tuesday, it seems as if the seventh-year coach has the 21-win Patriots on the right track. They have won 11 straight and are playing with the most confidence they’ve had all year.

“I look at Coach Bott like a second mother,” said senior catcher Jessie Koerner, who delivered the go-ahead RBI single in the county final.

“She doesn’t get upset if you try but get beat,” said McClure, a sophomore batting over .500 with four home runs and 31 RBI. “She’ll tell you we’ll go out there and get the win next time. But if we lose by beating ourselves, that’s what gets her down and upsets us, too. We don’t want to let her down, because she gives us so much.”

The Patriots have rallied behind their team motto — The Party Crashers.

After losing out on a league title, Secaucus has thrived in the spoiler role and doesn’t envision slowing down any time soon.

Secaucus is three wins away from a sectional title, with a quarterfinal matchup against fourth-seeded Belvidere today.

“That’s our motto,” Bott said. “We don’t like being the top seed. We like to crash the party. We crashed Lyndhurst’s party in the league. We crashed North Bergen’s party in counties, and we hope to crash a few more parties soon. I said to them, ‘You’re not a good team until you beat a good team.’ Now they know they can play, and win, against good teams. And sometimes, that’s all it takes.”

In the middle of all the Pats’ success has been senior pitcher Danielle Roesing. Pitching every game, Roesing has a sub-1.00 ERA and 220 strikeouts in 169 innings.

The always composed and levelheaded ace has fallen victim to some hard-luck losses this year because of errors, but Roesing never lets it get to her.

“That’s why she’s such a good captain,” McClure said.

“That’s just the type of kid she is,” Bott said. “She never says a whole lot, but after some of our losses, the kids started to feel bad for her because she was pitching so well, but not getting any help.

“Like the first Lyndhurst game, we were up, 3-1, in the seventh and then make five errors and lose, 5-3. She just comes off the field, doesn’t say anything, and comes out the next day and does her job. She’s definitely one of the big keys to our success.”