By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Mike Flynn may be the busiest high school coach in the area. In addition to coaching the Queen of Peace girls’ soccer team in the fall, he’s the junior varsity coach for the QP girls’ basketball program and assists with the varsity duties.
Come spring, Flynn puts on another hat and is the head softball coach at the school as well. Now that’s a hectic schedule.
Last season, Flynn’s team posted a 5-17 record with an extremely young team. Despite starting the 2013 season with setbacks against Ridgefield and Kearny, Flynn is hopeful that the Golden Griffins can show some improvement over a year ago.
“We’re making progress, but we’re just not hitting the ball yet,” Flynn said. “I still think it’s a work in progress. But we have five seniors and they’re hungry this year. They want to win.”
Flynn said that the addition of assistant coach George Steel has been a plus.
“We brought him in for his knowledge of the game,” Flynn said. “Every day, we want to get better.”
There is a slight obstacle this season. Because of the major rebuilding and refurbishing project ongoing at Riverside County Park in Lyndhurst, the Golden Griffins will be without a home field this season.
“We’ve been finding any spot of green grass we can find for practice,” Flynn said. “We’ve been all over the place. Sure, it’s going to be difficult, but we’re not making any excuses. The girls have been pretty good about it.”
The key returnee is junior right-handed pitcher Gabriella Lombardozzi, who has been in the pitching circle for the Golden Griffins since her freshman season.
“She’s getting much better,” Flynn said. “Her confidence is getting better. She’s pretty mature now, because she’s been through so much. She keeps her cool and stays composed and that’s a key.”
The catching duties are being shared by a pair of seniors, Lorrenis Regal and Aisha Perez.
“They’re both very similar,” Flynn said. “We have to see who gets the chance to start.”
Senior Jessica Cella is the first baseman.
“She’s new to the position, so she’s coming along,” Flynn said. “She’s picking it up pretty well.”
The second baseman is junior slugger Nikki Sammartino, who is the team’s cleanup hitter. Sammartino hit .327 last year and can put the ball in play.
“She’s our long ball threat,” Flynn said.
Senior Sofia Fernandez is the team’s starter at shortstop, where she played last year.
“She always has a smile on her face,” Flynn said of Fernandez. “She’s doing a great job.”
Senior Karina Cosme is the third baseman.
“She’s a really good athlete,” Flynn said. “She might be the best all-around athlete on the team. She has a great arm at third.”
Senior Lindsay Monal is the starter in left field, returning to that spot again this season.
“She played there most of last year,” Flynn said. “She’s a steady fielder.” Junior Raychel Piserchia is the new starter in centerfield. “She played right field last year and we moved her to center this year,” Flynn said. “She has excellent speed. She’s our leadoff hitter and she has to be the one to get us going.”
Senior Amanda Reid is the right fielder.
“She was a utility player who played almost every place on the field last year,” Flynn said. “Now she gets to be the everyday right fielder.”
Jaime Nemeth is this year’s utility player.
Despite the two setbacks, Flynn is confident that this year’s team will be improved over 2012.
“We have good senior leaders,” Flynn said. “They’ve been around for a while and they want to see things change. We have a good attitude and that helps.”
However, being road warriors for most of the season won’t be easy. The Golden Griffins will also play some of their home games at Matera Field in Lyndhurst, the former home for Lyndhurst softball and the current home for Felician College softball.
“We’ll take whatever we’re given to play there,” Flynn said. “We have a veteran team and we should make progress.”