Hamilton High West’s Julia Martine at the plate against Hightstown. Photo by Michael A. Sabo
By Rich Fisher
May 8: Don’t look now, but the best-kept secret in Colonial Valley Conference softball is playing shortstop for Hamilton West.
With the Hornets struggling for victories the media coverage isn’t too overwhelming, which means people are missing out on one heck of a player in junior Julia Martine.
Just recently, the shortstop became the first Hornet since Melissa Hodge in 2006 to commit to a Division I program, as Martine gave her verbal to Fordham University.
“I decided a few months ago,” said Julia after hitting a double and making a great diving catch in Hamilton’s 11-0 loss to Hightstown Monday. “I had a recruiting coach with my travel team, he tried to speed it up as much as possible so it would just be done with. He helped a lot and we got it done during my season for travel. It’s off my mind now. I’ve just got to play good for this team now.”
Martine has certainly done that. Through Hamilton’s 4-13 start, she is batting .535 with six doubles, two triples, a home run and 10 RBI, while also playing stellar defense. Along with freshman Gabbie Fonollosa (.485), there is hope for the Hornets future.
But Martine enjoys living in the moment, despite Hamilton’s record.
“Oh yeah, of course,” she said. “That’s where I make most of my friends is through sports. We definitely have the potential, we just don’t put it all together sometimes. We try to make the best of it though, even when we lose.”
Next up for the Hornets is a first-round Mercer County Tournament game with West Windsor-Plainsboro North, which has beaten West twice this year.
“Both games we’ve been ahead and we’ve kind of let it slip,” Martine said. “We have the potential to beat North so it should be a good start for us.”
It would be nice to see Hamilton make a little run so county fans can get a chance to see Martine, who began her career playing baseball in Hamilton Little Lads. She moved to the HGSA before arriving at her current travel team, the New Jersey Cheetahs.
During all that time, she’s never played anywhere but short.
“Ever since I can remember,” Martine said. “My first coach said he thought I’d be a good fit and it’s been like that ever since.”
Give that coach a cigar.
Aside from her glove, Martine possesses a lively bat. After hitting just .175 on varsity as a freshman, she exploded to hit .614 last year and has a career average of .464 after today’s game. She has hit safely in 13 of 17 games this season, which isn’t enough to satisfy her.
“I definitely think I should get a hit every time; but I’ve had games where I’ve had no hits,” she said. “I’ve had my ups and downs but I try to shake off the game if it’s bad and move on to the next one.”
“She’s a strong-headed person who is her own worst critic,” Hornets coach Lindsey Diamond said. “That’s a good thing. You want to challenge yourself every day, and she does. She’s probably one of the strongest players I’ve ever had on the field in the sense of making herself better all the time. She never leaves the field without trying to make herself better every practice.”
That hard work has paid off, as Martine will soon play softball at the college she was hoping to attend from the start.
“That was my top choice and that opportunity was first so I just took it,” Martine said. “Before I was even looking at the softball program I always liked the school. I went to some of their camps and stuff, I really liked the team and the coach so it was a good fit.”
Martine will become the second Hamilton Township female athlete within the past decade to play for Fordham, as Steinert grad Arielle Collins was a member of the Rams basketball team.