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Softball success of Monmouth University’s Kayla Rosado comes from stellar work ethic and her father’s teachings

The Hawks first baseman is a River Dell High School grad.

While growing up in Oradell, New Jersey, Kayla Rosado enjoyed the balance of both academics and athletics. She attended Oradell Public School, where she was able to flourish. Rosado praises three particular teachers in helping her reach her achievements; Mrs. Elinor Romer (Mrs. Goeller), Mrs. Boccanfuso and Mrs. McGill.

While she also played soccer and basketball, Rosado developed a true passion for softball. This was in large part due to her father (Fernando Rosado) who also played the sport and was involved in the softball program in Oradell.

“Hoffman Field is right down from my house, my Dad and I would go down there and swing the bat,” said Rosado. “That was the field I grew up playing when I was a little girl, going to Memorial Field with my Dad and swinging and hitting the ball with him all the time.”

At River Dell High School, Rosado made an immediate impact on the field. As a freshman, Rosado earned a varsity spot and saw enough success that she received postseason Honorable Mention honors. There would be no sophomore jinx, as Rosado was named to the All-League First Team and All-County Third Team the following season.

The biggest jump of Rosado’s career would come in her junior year. Rosado tore the cover off the ball with a sizzling .534 batting average, three home runs, 38 RBI, 10 doubles and three triples.

Despite an ankle injury that sidelined her for her senior season with the Golden Hawks, Rosado finished her career with a .460 average and 63 RBI.

“I remember being coached by former players Kobie Owens and Stacy Kufel who were great for River Dell,” Rosado remarked. “Being role models to me when I was a young girl. I couldn’t wait to get to high school and play with girls that were so good. I made varsity my freshman year and I was comfortable playing with a lot of girls growing up so it wasn’t really that new in Allie Ostuni, Brianna Gangemi and my best friend Kaitlin Principato and other teammates (Cathy Antonelli, Alexis Krass, Danille Debendetto, Bridget Cahill, Cat Satterly, Lauren Brown) I did not worry about the stats, All-League and All-County and going out there and doing the best I can. To have the foundation of people that wanted to be successful and in my senior year teaching the younger girls. My senior year did not go as planned, ended up spraining my ankle but it didn’t matter to me. Any athlete that goes through an injury gets upset but seeing my best friend play at third base was rewarding in itself and that’s why I played. I was not here for the accolades but to play for the team.”

“I think we are one of the luckier districts, the middle school introduced me to kids from River Edge and some of my best friends’ are from River Edge. Two towns coming together to make a great team and doesn’t get much better than that. My class was very close and I knew everyone and what ‘s great about it. You don’t appreciate it until you are gone. Coach (Mike) Garibel was a pretty relaxed coach, loved the game and playing for him for four years he put the best team forward.”

After graduating from River Dell, one of Rosado’s most important decisions of her life would be which college to attend and instantly Monmouth University became the number one choice. “Academics was first for me, Monmouth the perfect fit and was a  win-win situation,” she said.

On the softball field, Rosado appeared in 54 games her freshman year at Monmouth. That season she hit .243, tallied 19 RBI and 37 hits. Steadily improving in her sophomore year, Rosado batted .288 with three home runs and finished third on the team with 26 RBI. Once again making a big leap in her junior year, Rosado hit. 383 with five home runs, 32 RBI, 10 doubles, 19 runs scored and .537 slugging percentage. Believe it or not, Rosado was even more impressive on the defensive side as a first baseman with a .992 field percentage. In her two previous seasons Rosado registered .973 and .1000 averages.

“As far as my softball success, I owe it all to my father,” Rosado said. “He taught me everything about the game since I was a young girl and been part of every moment that has to do with softball in my life.” He has been my hitting coach my entire life and he is the reason where I am today. Going into my junior year I was super hungry after not reaching my goals sophomore year and hit like I did when I was younger in high school. Practiced and practiced all winter with my Dad and keeping it simple hitting off a tee and why I saw so much success.”

“As far as hitting goes, it has been my favorite aspect of the game since I was a young girl and I try to have a fearless mindset,” she added. “I’m not perfect by any means and definitely try to put in as much as work as possible. I feel like hitting is an art and something that is a fluid thing and changing so you have to change with it. My Dad tells me all the time to take one swing at a time and everything will work out. I try to do my best, take a good swing, good cut and hit the ball and go from there.”

“I feel there is a stereotype from the softball/college community when it comes to people from the Northeast and we’re not good as the big teams’ and one of the things that pushed me to train as hard as I can. I don’t care if you are SEC, PAC 12 or ACC I’m going to hit you and that is my mentality when I step on the plate. You are just a pitcher throwing the ball to me and I’m going to do my best to score my runners, move them over or get on base for my team and it’s your basic Mamba Mentality. I’m fearless and before I go up to bat I point the bat at the pitcher and something my Dad taught me and let them know this is my time to shine and opportunity.”

“I have been playing first base since I was a young girl and it’s a position my dad taught me,” Rosado remarked. “People think it’s an easy position that just catches the ball, but there is so much behind it and just as important as any other position. Ever since I was a young girl my dad said bad luck comes when you look at your stats during the season so I try to ignore them.”

After Monmouth went 25-31 in 2017, the Hawks righted the ship led by head coach, Shannon Salsburg. The past two seasons the Hawks won a total of 68 games, back-to-back MAAC Conference Tournament championships and received back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.

“She gave me a shot to play at the best level and owe that to her,” Rosado said. “She taught me the first base position, helped me transform from a high school to collegiate first baseman and groomed me to be the best player I could be. After losing freshman year, we came hungrier and the team was tight. We learned a lot about ourselves as softball players. Everything that pushed us to be champions in 2018. Winning the first MAAC a huge honor and not a lot of people believed in us. She is probably the best coach I have ever played for and that says a lot.”

“I was just a high school graduate coming into college and she turned me into a woman. She taught me lessons about life and things were not always easy. When I came in, I can say 100 percent she changed my life and made me a better person. I remember freshman year getting homesick and she told me she was here for me and didn’t want me feeling this way. If I needed to go home she had no problem with that, spoke to my parents and made sure I was okay at all times. She wanted to make sure I got an education and flexible if I got super stressed out and can’t handle practice and work one on one.”

Majoring in Marine Biology/Environmental Policy has kept Rosado very busy in her four years at Monmouth University she has definitely relished in the opportunity presented to her.

“Definitely not an easy major, a lot of hard classes, Biology, Organic Chemistry, Ecology, Physics and Zoology,” said Rosado. “A lot of hard classes, labs in the field and sampling water and organisms. Definitely had to juggle but my professors (Dr. Daneshgar, Dr. Adolf, Dr. Tiedeman, Dr. Dunton) and mentor Kelly Hanna specifically for my department are absolutely amazing and have close relationships with all of them. They help me out with quizzes and homework and are there to help me succeed and something you don’t see especially at big schools.”

“I have learned so much from my major, Monmouth offers a great marine biology program and wanted to do since I was a young girl and one of the main reasons I chose the school because of this program. I was in Washington State this past summer, working in the San Juan Islands close to Canada and off the waters of Seattle.”

“I was studying fish, worked all summer and received a scholarship to go out there and it was an amazing experience in the area where the movie Free Willy was filmed. I saw orcas, seals and whales every day. It was through the University of Washington and I would have not been able to have that experience it was not for my professors, mentors and classes that helped and pushed me to apply to these programs.” A fun major that has been very rewarding.”

With Monmouth’s recent success especially at home by winning 38 out of 48 games has translated into more fans coming out to support the team as well as the administration led by Director of Athletics Dr. Marilyn McNeil.

“When I first came in it was just the parents’ in the stands and few friends you invited,” Rosado said. “Throughout the years our success has drawn a big part of our school to come out and support us. Athletics here are amazing across the board. As far as women’s athletics, Monmouth sees a lot of success. Our Athletic Director Marilyn McNeil is awesome and really cares about us and wants us to do our best. She comes to our games all the time and really respects us as people. She wants to hear our opinions and how we can better our program.”

What is more meaningful for Rosado is cherishing the memories of dramatic wins in the conference tournaments and traveling around the country with her teammates and coaches. “The semifinals in the MAAC against Fairfield and Alex (Holzman) whacks the ball out of the park in the 15th inning and we won,” said recalled. “People were just screaming, all of us throwing our gloves up in the air, running in and embracing each other. We defied the odds and pushed through so many obstacles. My dad was so proud and I had never had seen him cry.”

“One out last inning in the semifinals (vs. Marist), man on first and second and if we lost have to play three more games. DeAngie Jiminez can really bunt, misses the first and second pitches, the next pitch she whacks a home run over the fence. Just like the year before and I have never been prouder of my teammates in that moment and coming through in the clutch. We were screaming and running out of the dugout.”

“By the end of the season we joke around we can’t feel our bodies and people ask how many games do we play and we say 54 or 55 games and their jaws hit the floor and say what. We have been doing it for so long and sometimes play 10 games in a weekend. Going out to Colorado and down to Florida competing in these huge showcases. When you get to college it’s a different beast and they do a really good job of grooming us and training us with the off-season conditioning and preparing us for moments when we’re in a game. It’s the 16th inning, you are super tired abut just want to find some peace and want to keep pushing forward and do it for your teammates.”

“There are challenges in managing our schedule when traveling around the country for showcases, the coaches (Shannon Salsburg, Marisa Destasio) do a great job of making sure we stay on top of our school work. As far as traveling it has been fun, an opportunity most people don’t get to have and cherish it and realize how blessed you are.”

Ready to dominate in her senior season, tragedy would strike Rosado, losing her grandmother in the summer. “We were extremely close and she was my best friend and came to all my games since I was a little girl and been a part of everything in my life,” Rosado said. “Losing her last summer rocked my worked and basically losing another parent. It broke me, she couldn’t see me graduate this year and my last season of softball. Four years ago I lost my grandpa so he never got the chance to see me graduate from high school. The main thing every time I step on that field I just have the belief she is sitting me in the stands watching play and putting a show on for her and dedicated to her.”

Helping Rosado through this difficult process was an experienced team that lost just one senior from last year’s squad and six seniors on the 2020 team. Furthermore exuding a ton of confidence after losing by just two runs to LSU and single run to Louisiana Tech in the NCAA Tournament Regionals last season.

“Our team is pretty tight, I live with most of the seniors and really good friends,” Rosado said. “We have girls on last year’s team (DeAngie Jiminez, Amber Wozniak, Sam Tomasetti, Erika Coreth, Alyssa Irons, Lindsey Baron, Kate Harrington, Amanda Hopeck, Morgan Maziarz, Christine Frazee, Antonia Browing, Tommi Stowers, Danielle Dominick, Heather Lally, Riley Riendeau) that were freshman rookie of the year, sophomores that made the first team and transfer from Hofstra that was pitcher of the year. Everyone contributes to our success whether you are a starter or not and that’s the beauty of our team.”

With Monmouth off to an 11-9 start, Rosado put up phenomenal numbers at the plate, hitting .438, four home runs, 23 RBI, 28 hits, 11 runs scored, .507 on base percentage and career high .688 slugging percentage. On the defensive side, registering a .994 field percentage with 153 putouts. However, the season would be turned upside down with the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“We came back from a tournament at George Washington on Sunday, everything was normal Monday and then Tuesday I was supposed to go see my academic advisor to drop organic chemistry and take it in the summer and graduate in the summertime and start as a grad. assistant in the fall,” said Rosado. “Literally right before I met my advisor there an e-mail sent out that school was canceled.”

“The next day we get a text message from Coach (Shannon Salsburg) about an emergency meeting. As we are walking down the hall you can’t ignore the faces, seniors getting emotional and compliance guy comes in and sitting in front of us saying the season is not canceled but all non-conference games across athletics at Monmouth. Not even at hour late we called in again and knew it was over right away. Coach (Salsburg) said I wanted you to hear this from me first but we’re canceled for the rest of the season along with other MAAC games.”

“I just blacked out, don’t remember what was said after that. I was the first person to leave the room and couldn’t stand in there and needed to clear my head. It was very bad and collected myself at my locker. For the people who don’t’ understand sports and may sound dramatic, everything you worked so hard for comes crashing down so easily. It literally felt like my heart was ripped from my chest.”

Despite not completing the 2020 season, Rosado’s career stats are spectacular, .322 average, 12 home runs, 100 RBI, 171 hits, 53 runs scored, 29 doubles, 452 slugging percentage and .986 fielding percentage with 875 putouts. Meanwhile. earning All-MAAC Rookie Team in 2017, All-MAAC Second Team in 2018 and All-MAAC First Team in 2019.

Relying on the support of her family, Rosado recognizes the importance of graduating from college as well as setting example for other girls and her hometown of Oradell. Of all my cousins I will be the first to graduate from college. Crazy how close I’m to graduating and making my dreams come true. I want to show girls no matter where you are from, Oradell is a small town and nobody knows but if you work hard your dreams come true. You don’t need to be from the West Coast and on the best team but if you work hard, put your head down and give everything you got there will be room for you somewhere. I made dreams come true here at Monmouth that we’re not possible but we made history in winning championships and not something everyone gets to do.”

“My Mom (Lisa Rosado) came to all my games, washing my jersey and pants to make sure they were all white again. She wanted me to succeed, a great support system and I love her. I have a brother Marcus who I love too and he always said I have the fire in me and said he knew you were going to be great.”

“When I was younger, more naïve to leave the town (Oradell) but don’t realize how special River Dell and Oradell are. It’s home and we have a tight knit community that want to see people succeed and really important. I love where I grew up and would not trade it for the world and made me the person I’m today and always will call Oradell home.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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