Jennifer Inamoto makes a smooth move for Barrington

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BARRINGTON — It was the beginning of the school year when Barrington softball player Jennifer Inamoto began to feel at home in her new surroundings.

A job transfer by her mother, Loretta, forced her family to move from Annandale, N.J., to Barrington in the summer of 2013. Her parents and twin sister, Caitlin, moved first, and Jennifer Inamoto arrived in early August.

With barely any time to acclimate herself, Jennifer Inamoto was a bit startled by something her physical education teacher, Wendy Sanchez, said in class one day. It was an innocuous comment, but helped solidify for her that Barrington was the right choice.

“She said, ‘we have a great softball team. You have to try out,’” JenniferInamoto said. “Here someone not directly connected to [softball] was talking to me about it.”

On the first day of tryouts in March, she had another revelatory moment inside the school’s gymnasium.

“We were walking in and we see six coaches lined up. One of the first practices, we are getting all the signs and plays. I was like, ‘Oh my God,’” Jennifer Inamoto said. “The expectations of how you have to perform. The newness was exciting, like a [shiny] new toy you want to keep playing with.”

It didn’t take long before Jennifer Inamoto distinguished herself on a rebuilding Barrington team. Possessing excellent infield range and a quick release, Jennifer Inamoto won the third base job. She batted .435 through the first nine games, with many at bats coming from the cleanup position. And she struck out nine in her first eight innings of work as the Fillies’ primary backup to star junior pitcher Keenan Dolezal.

Coach Perry Peterson said he’s not surprised by Jennifer Inamoto’s immediate success, citing previous examples of transfer players who performed at a high level.

“Erin Doyle came in [1996] and was very good. We had Robin Martin [in 1997]. So we’ve had multiple transfers come in,” said Peterson, who is in his 22nd season as the Fillies’ coach. “Success breeds success. They had a choice where to move, and they chose Barrington.”

Having softball as a shared interest made it easier for Jennifer Inamoto and her sister to make friends. Senior first baseman Katie Dehnert remembers meeting Caitlin Inamoto — a right fielder for the Fillies — during the 2013 summer travel season. A breakfast at Egg Harbor Cafe in Barrington was soon arranged, and while eating with a group that included Caitlin Inamoto, Dehnert knew the sisters would fit in.

“We found out she had a twin sister. We started talking about softball and what it was like out east,” Dehnert said. “They are very social people in general. They’ve had no problem adapting to this environment.”

At Barrington, the environment around softball includes winning.

While in New Jersey, Jennifer and Caitlin Inamoto attended North Hunterdon High School. Jennifer Inamoto said the relationship between the school and the softball program was not the same.

“There’s more hype and intensity about softball here,” Jennifer Inamoto said. “The effort level on everybody’s part, the school’s enthusiasm for the school and team, it’s beyond amazing.”

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