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Harrison’s Dolaghan develops into top line pitcher

Photo by Jim Hague
Harrison senior pitcher Tommy Dolaghan.

 

 

By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer

Ever since he joined the Harrison High School varsity baseball program three seasons ago, Tommy Dolaghan always had the makings of being a top pitcher.

But this season, with Dolaghan now a senior, things have changed a bit.

“He’s been pretty much pin point with his pitches,” said first-year Harrison head coach Jairo Mendez, who worked with Dolaghan the previous two seasons when Dolaghan’s uncle Sean was the head coach. “He’s now an actual pitcher now. He used to just throw, but now he’s smart and knows that he’s doing. He changes speeds and locations and throws all of his pitches for strikes.”

Mendez, a former standout pitcher in his heyday at Kearny High and later Montclair State, said that Dolaghan has been an excellent student from the minute Mendez arrived.

“From Day One, he’s always been one of the most coachable kids,” Mendez said. “He has listened to what I tell him and sticks with the things that we worked on together.”

Dolaghan said that it was easy to listen to what Mendez had to say.

“I knew he was a good college pitcher and he said the key is to try to stay ahead in the count,” Dolaghan said. “So that’s what I’ve focused on, throwing strikes. It’s hard to come back in the count, because you can’t throw the pitches you want to throw. It also keeps your pitch count down and enables you to stay in games longer.”

Added Dolaghan, “Throwing strikes is a big key, because if you don’t throw strikes, you lose your players behind you. If you do throw strikes, it keeps the defense on their toes and ready to make a play.”

Dolaghan is not worried about trying to blow the ball past opponents.

“I’m just pitching my game,” Dolaghan said. “It’s nothing special. I just go out there and do my best. I’m fine with everyone hitting the ball, as long as it is to one of my players.”

Dolaghan said that he’s using four pitches – a fastball, curveball, changeup and even a knuckleball – to get batters out.

A knuckleball? That’s rare for a high school kid.

“I just picked it up somehow and started to use it,” Dolaghan said. “I was goofing around with my friends, worked. So I kept throwing it and now I use it in games. It’s basically when I’m ahead in the count and I know I can surprise batters with it. I’m comfortable with every one of my pitches and I’m not afraid to throw them at any time.”

“I’d say the development of his knuckleball has been surprising,” Mendez said. “It’s become a good out pitch. He mixes it in here and there and it has become one of his out pitches.”

Lately, Dolaghan has been getting his fair share of out pitches. In his last two starts, against local rivals Lyndhurst and Queen of Peace, Dolaghan has been devastating on the opposition.

The senior right-hander threw a one-hitter against Lyndhurst, defeating the Golden Bears, 2-1. In that game, Dolaghan struck out only four, but more importantly, walked just one batter.

Last week, it was more of the same against Queen of Peace. Dolaghan pitched a four-hit shutout in the Blue Tide’s 1-0 victory.

In that game, it was more of the same, as Dolaghan struck out only three, but more importantly, walked just one to improve to 4-0 on the season.

For good measure Friday, Dolaghan had two hits and two RBI in a 5-1 win over Wallington, helping the Blue Tide to improve to 12-5 overall. He also had two hits and two RBI in a win over New Milford. For his efforts, Dolaghan has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

Mendez likes the way Dolaghan has been throwing for the Blue Tide.

“He pitches to contact,” Mendez said. “He’s confident with a good defense behind him. That’s huge for a pitcher to have confidence in the team’s defense. But more importantly, Tommy throws his pitches. He knows what’s working. We tell him before the game what to work on and he does what he has to do. That’s been a big key to his success.”

Mendez said that Dolaghan has been the Blue Tide’s jack-of- all-trades when he’s not on the mound.

“He’s basically our utility guy,” Mendez said. “We can play him at third, shortstop, left field. We’re mixing him up, depending upon the lineup. He handles that well.” “Coach Mendez treats me well, so I’ll do whatever he needs,” Dolaghan said. “It helps a lot that he has a lot of faith in me.”

Dolaghan had a no-hitter going against Lyndhurst, but it was broken up in the seventh inning.

“As long as we got the win, that’s all that mattered,” Dolaghan said. “But that was one of the biggest wins of my career. The game is coming easier to me now. I understand what I have to do in key situations. I have to make the right call.”

Dolaghan isn’t sure whether Mendez will give him the ball this weekend, when the Blue Tide will play Ferris in the opening round of the Ed “Faa” Ford Memorial Hudson County Baseball Tournament.

“I’m not quite sure,” Dolaghan said. “If I do, I’ll just go out there and pitch my game. I’d be thrilled if I got the chance. The county tournament will be big for us this year.”

Dolaghan said that he would love to pitch on the college level. Mendez thinks he has a shot.

“He can compete at the next level,” Mendez said. “He wants to get into one of the NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference) schools and I believe he can pitch there. He has great composure on the mound and that’s a big plus in a pitcher. I think he could develop a little more velocity. But if you can’t throw strikes, you’re in trouble, and Tommy throws strikes.”

“I’ll just see what the coaches have to say,” Dolaghan said. “I would absolutely consider it.”

If a local college baseball coach wants someone who can throw strikes and get batters out, then they have to look no further than Tommy Dolaghan.

Kardinals’ softball squad on a big-time roll

Photo by Jim Hague
The Kearny High School softball team recently enjoyed a 10-game winning streak that pushed the Kardinals to the top
of the HCIAL standings. Kneeling, from l., are seniors Spiridoula Dimou, Gabriella Robles, Lacey Burton and Sandra Lopez.
Standing, from l., are head coach Jimmy Pickel, Kelly Wilkinson, Elizabeth Marflak, Nicole Kelly and Amanda Seda.

 

 

By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

Before the 2014 high school softball season began, Kearny head coach Jimmy Pickel thought he had the makings of a good team.

“We had our top pitcher (Caralynne Rivera) and some of our main players back,” said Pickel, who is in his fifth season as the head coach of the Kardinals. “I thought things would go well.”

But Pickel never anticipated the Kardinals snapping off 10 straight victories and catapulting themselves to the top of the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League standings. “I didn’t things would go this well,” said Pickel, whose team started the season with three straight losses, then won 10 straight before falling to St. Dominic Academy of Jersey City last Friday.

Pickel was asked why there was such an improvement from last year, when the Kards won only 12 games for the entire season.

“I think basically it’s because of the work they put in during the offseason,” Pickel said. “The kids played a lot in the summer and fall to get ready for this season. They put in a lot of work on their own during the offseason. They went to speed training and took lessons. I think it’s because they did a lot of out-of-season work.”

When the season began, the Kards dropped consecutive games to Hoboken, Lyndhurst and Hackensack.

“After the three losses, it wasn’t like they put their heads down and felt sorry for themselves,” Pickel said. “They knew that they made some mistakes that were correctable. In the case of Hackensack, every ball they hit just found a place to fall for a hit. We had three losses, but we kept it positive.”

The Kardinals then defeated St. Dominic to get their first win.

“It was a great game and everyone felt better about themselves,” Pickel said. “We were able to keep ourselves in games and won 10 in a row.”

What has also helped the Kardinals is depth at pitching – young depth at that.

Rivera, just a sophomore, returns to the circle. She was a game competitor last year as a freshman and has only improved.

“I think because Caralynne knows she doesn’t have to pitch every game, she’s even more reliable,” Pickel said.

Freshman Sydney Pace is the Kards’ other pitcher. Although Rivera still gets the bulk of the workload, it’s refreshing to have two quality hurlers.

“Sydney was definitely a good addition,” Pickel said. “She’s come in further along than most freshmen. She has experience. We knew what we had with both of them and that’s been a big help.” Junior Arianna Scrimo is the team’s catcher.

“She’s done a real good job catching and handling the pitchers,” Pickel said.

Junior Amanda DeSousa is the first baseman who has stepped up nicely after spending last season with the junior varsity.

“She leads the team in RBI with 13,” Pickel said. “She’s doing a nice job.”

Second base duties are being shared by two seniors, namely Kelly Wilkinson and Lacey Burton, as well as Pace.

“It’s really hard to juggle when you have three in there,” Pickel said. “Wilkinson and Burton are now splitting most of the time.”

Junior Daniella Echevestre is the team’s starting shortstop. Echevestre played shortstop last season, gaining valuable experience.

Sophomore Laura Vilar is the team’s third baseman. Vilar leads the team with hits (17) and doubles (six).

“At the beginning of the year, Laura didn’t have a position,” Pickel said. “We moved her to third base and she hasn’t come out of the lineup.”

Senior Spiridoula Dimou is the starting left fielder.

“She’s really improved with her defense,” Pickel said of Dimou. “When she first started with us, she had a tough time in the outfield, but now, she’s doing an outstanding job. She’s also developed as a slap hitter.”

Dimou leads the Kardinals with seven stolen bases.

Nicole Kelly, the soccer standout, returned to the softball diamond after not playing last year and is the Kardinals’ starter in centerfield.

“She’s really helped us tremendously,” Pickel said. “She is someone who was out there in center before and knows what she’s doing. With her speed, once she gets the ball on the ground, no one is going to throw her out.”

Rivera sees time in right field, along with senior Elizabeth Marflak. Pace and Rivera also share duty as the team’s designated hitter.

“It depends on the situation and who’s pitching,” Pickel said.

So the Kardinals are in the thick of the fight for the league title, not to mention the upcoming Hudson County Tournament, which will be seeded later this week. With no true favorite among the county teams, the Kardinals could very well come away with the top seed.

“We’re playing well,” Pickel said. “We’re playing confidently and the girls believe in each other. Things are going pretty good right now.”

And definitely better than expected.

Ridiculous auction last sad chapter for Newark Bears

Photo by Jim Hague
The once-majestic Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium will be dormant this
summer, as the Newark Bears are now officially out of business.

 

 

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

It was a bright, sunny Saturday in April, the kind of day where baseball should have been played at a majestic and magnificent ballpark such as Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark.

After all, it was the kind of Saturday in April where baseball was played at the ballpark every year since 1999, when the Newark Bears rose from the ashes of an era long gone and brought professional baseball back to the Brick City for the first time in almost 50 full years.

Sure, Rutgers-Newark and NJIT have also called Riverfront Stadium home since the $34 million facility was opened 15 years ago. The Greater Newark Tournament, one of the oldest high school tournaments in New Jersey, has played its championship game there as well, not to mention the championship of the Newark Public Schools tourney.

Predominantly, the Newark Bears called the stadium home since its grand opening, playing more than 1,000 games there over the years. The Bears, first in the Atlantic League, then later in the Can-Am League, brought excitement to local baseball fans in the form of some former major league greats like Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson as a player and sure-fire Hall of Famer Tim Raines as a manager.

It was a great concept with a great facility in a great location.

So why did it come to this silly ending last Saturday, with the current owners of the moribund Bears franchise hosting this ill-organized and poorly run auction of practically everything that wasn’t bolted to the floor?

That’s what took place Saturday at the oncemajestic stadium. The last owners of the Bears, already declaring bankruptcy and pulling the plug on the operations, tried holding an auction of everything that was left, including kitchen equipment, landscaping equipment, the team bus and yes, even the team’s name.

But much like everything that current owners Dr. Doug Spiel and his former fiancée Danielle Dronet did after they took charge of the Bears’ franchise in 2012, this auction was bungled and poorly handled.

Just how bad? Well, without telling anyone beforehand, the organizers of the auction tried to pry $100 per interested bidder, regardless of what the interested person wanted to bid on.

That’s right. If you wanted to bid on a piece of memorabilia, like a photograph or an old jersey, you had to fork over $100 to the auctioneers.

It was not advertised prior to the event that there was such a fee to bid on the items.

It certainly was enough for many of the interested people to turn around and walk away. Many people who attended were fans who were hoping to hold on to the final few pieces of a time gone by. Others were people looking for bargains, on equipment like balls, bats and helmets.

Just the idea that the current owners would try to pull a fast one like that on their last fans standing is appalling enough.

But three hours into the proceedings, Spiel decided to pull the plug on the entire auction, when he wasn’t getting close to the prices listed in the auction.

On the biggest item, namely the team bus, Spiel was hoping to get $350,000, but the highest bidder came in around $100,000, so Spiel pulled it back.

When the auction came to an abrupt end at approximately 1 p.m., none of the kitchen equipment, like stoves, sinks and ovens, was on the auctioning block. That angered many in the restaurant business who paid the $100 auction fee, but never got a chance to bid on the items they wanted.

So recapping, there was an auction fee for Joe Average Fan who was hoping to bid on a jersey once worn by Armando Benitez or Edgardo Alfonso. There was an auction fee for the business person looking for a bargain on restaurant and landscaping equipment, but who never got a chance to make a bid, because the owners stopped the auction.

“It’s their prerogative,” the auctioneer told the people who were turned away. “It happens a lot in auctions, when the seller isn’t getting the price they asked for. So they just pull everything back.”

Will there be another auction? If there is, who will go? It was astounding how much media attention this auction received. The CBS Evening News-Weekend Edition, the national broadcast, had a portion of its broadcast focusing on the auction.

There were also articles in the New York Times, focusing on the owners and what they did in an attempt to save the team.

However, sad to say, those articles were pure fiction, because Spiel and Dronet both wanted to blame the city of Newark, blame the government bodies in Essex County, blame the location itself for the demise of the franchise.

The reports also said that Spiel and Dronet tried hard, did everything they could to make baseball work in Newark, and couldn’t do it. That idea is pure fiction, more than the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland combined.

I happened to work for the Bears on several occasions for many different owners from 2002 through 2012. I was the official scorer and public address announcer. I handled press releases and news conferences.

No one did worse for the Bears than the ill-fated tandem of Spiel and Dronet. They were in way over their heads when they got involved and had no idea how to run a professional baseball franchise whatsoever when they had to take over on their own.

Here’s proof: They wanted to hold a Pop Warner football night, with youngsters getting into the ballpark on a discounted price if they wore their football uniforms to the game. There’s only one problem with that. Football season is in September, not July. It would have been better to focus their attention to area Little Leagues, which prior owners did.

They were holding a beer pong tournament on the same night where Mothers Against Drunk Drivers were being honored. You can’t make that stuff up.

They wanted to film a reality television show involving the Bears players, trying to force them to sign release forms for the show as part of their baseball contracts.

Dronet announced ticket sales for a proposed Justin Bieber concert in October, in a 6,200-seat building, when Bieber was already headed to the 20,000 seat Prudential Center two months later. Dronet then blamed the Bieber snafu as a “lack of communication.” No, it was more that the Bieber concert was never real.

Did baseball fail in Newark?  In the end, it failed because of the owners and the organization.

But it did work in Newark at one point. I worked for the Bears in 2010, when Frank Boulton owned the team and Charlie Dowd was the general manager. Spending was sliced to the bare minimum, but the team made money that year because the ownership and administration knew what they were doing.

Not so with the chiropractor and his ex-girlfriend, a former New Orleans stripper.

So it’s with deep sadness that I report that there will be no baseball in Newark this summer, that Riverfront Stadium will be vacant for the entire summer. Of course, with vacancy comes decay and with decay comes urban blight like graffiti and vagrancy.

And the once-proud $34 million ballpark will become an eyesore.

That’s the saddest part about what took place Saturday – or at least tried to take place. The bumbling Bears ownership took away a summer of enjoyment and entertainment and tried to auction it all off for a few sheckles. Shame on them.

Lyndhurst’s Kelly emerges as Golden Bears’ ace hurler

Photo by Jim Hague
Lyndhurst junior pitcher Nolan Kelly.

 

 

By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

After enjoying a bit of a breakthrough season last year as a sophomore, Lyndhurst High School junior right-hander Nolan Kelly was looking for even more success this season.

“I think that Coach (Butch) Servideo was expecting me to be the ace this year,” Kelly said. “I was hoping that I could do a good job.”

Kelly didn’t let last year’s success go to his head, as he worked diligently in the offseason to improve.

“I did a lot of lifting to get bigger and stronger,” said Kelly, who physically grew about three inches since last year.

Kelly also sought outside help.

“I went to pitching lessons once a week,” said Kelly, who was mentored by former Rutherford High School standout and former New York Mets farmhand Jim Wladyka. “That definitely helped me a lot, working on mechanics. It was definitely keeping me on track.”

So the expectations were there before the season began.

However, no one could have ever imagined how much of a workhorse Kelly would become, both as a starter and a relief pitcher.

“I was hoping he could become our ace,” Servideo said. “We had other pitchers, but Nolan had the most experience. We had a couple of arms coming up from the JV (junior varsity), but I was counting on Nolan.”

As the season moved on, Kelly found a different role, starting some games, relieving in others.

“I was feeling pretty confident,” Kelly said. “But I still had to work hard. I also counted on my defense behind me to make plays.”

“Nolan’s fastball improved by about 5 or 6 miles per hour,” Servideo said. “I also noticed that if I gave him five days rest, he wasn’t as sharp. So I decided to use him in relief in the games where he didn’t start.”

The move turned out to be a stroke of genius, as Kelly has proven to be an ace as a starter and as a closer – sort of like CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera all rolled into one.

Kelly started off the season with a four-hit shutout win over Harrison, going the distance. His second start against Leonia came with the full rest and Servideo noticed that Kelly wasn’t the same.

“He got the win, but he just wasn’t sharp,” Servideo said.

Then came Kelly’s week to remember.

Kelly came in relief in the Golden Bears’ game against Park Ridge at Cal Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Md., pitching the final three scoreless innings in a 5-3 Lyndhurst win, earning the save.

Two days later against Secaucus, it was more of the same. Kelly came into the game in the sixth inning with two runners on and pitched the final 1 2/3 innings to secure the Golden Bears’ win, earning another save.

On Thursday, there were more late-inning heroics for Kelly. He came in and got the final out in a 6-4 win over New Milford with the tying runs on base, securing his third save in four days.

A day later, Kelly went the distance on a fourhitter against Wood- Ridge, striking out five and allowing no earned runs in a 6-1 Lyndhurst win.

For the week, Kelly had three saves and a win, pitching 13 1/3 scoreless innings.

For the season, Kelly now has a 4-0 record with four saves, quite a rarity in high school baseball.

For his efforts, Kelly has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

“I never figured he would become this much of a workhorse,” Servideo said. “He’s done very well.”

Kelly thanks his coach for the chance to do both jobs.

“Coach Servideo has treated me well throughout high school,” Kelly said. “It’s good to know that he has confidence in me and gives me the ball. I still look at myself as being a starter, but it’s definitely cool to get the saves like that, especially all in one week. I’m able to do whatever Coach Servideo wants me to do. It really wasn’t a lot of work. My teammates have really been helping me out, giving me support, playing good defense.”

What’s also amazing about Kelly’s performance is that he suffers from Tourette syndrome, the neuropsychiatric disorder that produces physical tics or sudden vocal outbursts.

“I think it’s been better lately,” Kelly said. “I think when I’m focused on something or doing a physical activity, the tics decrease.”

Kelly said that he’s also taking less prescriptive medicine than he did in the past.

“It’s under control,” Servideo said. “It’s not as predominant as it was last year. I might hear him from time to time, but on the mound, he’s just focused right in.” Servideo said that Kelly throws the fastball, curveball and changeup for strikes.

“When he’s on, that change is his best pitch,” Servideo said. “I know one thing’s for sure. I’m not going to give him five days rest anymore. He pitches better without the long rest.”

Servideo, who is retiring as head coach at the end of this season, believes Kelly has a very bright future.

“You know that he works hard and you know he’s only going to get bigger and stronger,” Servideo said. “He’s a great kid, a good student. I think without a doubt he’s going to be a lot better next year and he’s going to be a good college pitcher. He works very hard and has tremendous focus.”

Kelly hopes that he can pitch on the collegiate level.

“I just hope that I can continue and baseball can help me with my college choice,” Kelly said. “I wouldn’t mind playing in college. I’m pretty pleased with the way things are going right now.”

As both a starter and a closer. It’s not bad to handle both roles if you can.

North Arlington Sports Hall: A family affair

Photo by Jim Hague Former Observer Male Athlete of the Year Michael Gross will be one of 16 individuals honored at the 2014 North Arlington High School Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner May 2 at the San Carlo in Lyndhurst.

Photo by Jim Hague
Former Observer Male Athlete of the Year Michael Gross will be one of 16 individuals honored at the 2014 North Arlington High School Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner May 2 at the San Carlo in Lyndhurst.

Former Observer Athlete of Year Gross heads stellar list of inductees

By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer

It will be a family affair of sorts when the 2014 North Arlington High School Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner takes place at the San Carlo in Lyndhurst on May 2.
Sixteen former Viking greats will gain induction to the Hall of Fame, which will hold its first induction ceremony in three years.
Andrea Sprague Jennings will gain induction, much like her sister, Dana, did a few years ago. Her brother, Bobby, is a Hall of Famer at Queen of Peace High School.
Andrea Sprague was a three-sport standout (volleyball, basketball and softball) during her time at North Arlington, graduating in 1991.
“Softball was my best sport,” Sprague Jennings recalls. “I was so honored to be thought of and I can complete the Sprague clan. I have to thank (committee chairman and former longtime girls’ basketball coach) Joe Spaccavento for thinking of me. It came as a total surprise to me. This is a huge honor.”
It’s also a family event for the Marck family.
Kim Nelson Marck was a basketball and softball player during her heyday, graduating in 1987.
“It was many years ago,” Nelson Marck said. “I was surprised by it. I definitely
thought that everyone had forgotten about me.”
Kim Nelson said that she’s “not the attention getter.”
That title would probably better fit her husband, Anthony, who is the current North Arlington head football coach.
“I’m definitely the football wife,” Nelson Marck said. “I learned all the plays and watch the films with him.”
It’s a family thing for Nelson, because she joins her brother, Keith Nelson, brother-in-law Danny Marck and husband in the Hall of Fame.
“It’s a little different, because Anthony said that we’re the first husband and wife in the Hall. It’s a big deal for Anthony.”
Although the two were students and athletes together at North Arlington, they were not high school sweethearts.
“I was already working as a teacher,” Kim Nelson Marck said. “We met somewhere in town.”
And one of the Marck’s children, six-year-old Mason, is excited about the event.
“He’s saying, ‘I’m going to be in the Hall of Fame,” said Kim Nelson Marck, who said that she keeps in touch with her former coaches Spaccavento and John Galante, who still coaches the softball team.
Dr. Peter Velardi (Class of 1970) is one of the older inductees. At age 61, Velardi, a Lyndhurst-based dentist, was also a little surprised by the honor.
“Rip Collins was a patient of mine,” Velardi said of the North Arlington legend whose name graces the township’s athletic facility, currently under reconstruction. “He kept bugging me to get my stuff together to give to the Hall of Fame. I know a lot of guys on the committee.”
Velardi was a standout track and field participant and cross country runner during his days at North Arlington.
“I still ran competitively as I got older,” Velardi said. “I ran five-milers and 10Ks. At the time, I was at the top of my age group. I ran in the Spring Lake (5 mile race) for many years. I remembered that they gave mugs out to the top 125 runners. I got a mug almost every year. I ran all the local races, including the North Arlington race on the Fourth of July. But then my legs couldn’t take the pounding anymore.”
Velardi was asked if the honor makes him think about his high school days.
“It definitely makes you look back,” Velardi said. “We had like 60 guys on the track team back then. We had four or five sprinters when I was there. We competed against all the biggest schools. North Arlington always had some of the greatest athletes.”
Velardi has kept his practice in neighboring Lyndhurst since 1982.
“I have had a lot of the old timers come in as patients,” Velardi said. “I’m really excited about this. I’ll get to see my other buddies. I’ll enjoy seeing all those guys.”
Katie Mallack is one of the younger inductees. A member of the Class of 2006, Mallack was a standout soccer and basketball player during her days in North Arlington.
“I guess my biggest memory will be the night I scored my 1,000th point in basketball,” Mallack said. “A lot of people came out for that game. It was a special night.”
Mallack is only 25, working for an advertising agency as an account manager.
“I was surprised by this, because when you think of Hall of Fame, you think it might come years down the line,” said Mallack, who went on to play club soccer and rugby at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. “I see Spacc (Spaccavento) all the time and he always said to me that I deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. Talk about flashbacks. It’s all been part of a great memory for me and I’m looking forward to it.”
The youngest of the honorees is former three-sport standout Michael Gross, who was named The Observer Male Athlete of the Year in 2008. Gross, who played football, basketball and baseball at North Arlington, had a fine football career at the University of Rhode Island.
Other inductees that night include Michael Hoffman (Class of 1985), Terry Iavarone (2006), Sara MacNiven (1996), Ronnie Parmakis (1997), Paulo Prata (1989), Danielle Romero (2005), Kaitlyn Schaefer (2008), Larry Venancio Jr.
(1993), Michael Wendell (1997), Nicholas Mazzolla (Coach), and Bart Bradley (Honorary).
Two teams, the 2001 state sectional champion girls’ basketball team and the 2004
Group I state volleyball champion, will also be honored that evening.
One more irony that involves this Hall of Fame class: There is an art show, the George Miller Art Show, named after a three-decade art teacher at the school, that honors young artists in the district. That art show is chaired by Andrea Sprague Jennings and Danny Marck.
“We’re all still giving back to North Arlington,” said Sprague Jennings, whose
husband Chris, is a former NA athlete who became vice-principal and is now the principal of Bloomfield High School.
Much like many of the inductees being honored May 2.
For further information about the Hall of Fame dinner, log on to www.narlington.k12.nj.us/Hallof Fame.htm.

Kearny’s Uebbing earns berth in Boston Marathon

Photo by Jim Hague Kearny resident Annemarie Uebbing trains last week to prepare for her first Boston Marathon, competing in the marathon a year after the deadly bombing that terrorized the finish line.

Photo by Jim Hague
Kearny resident Annemarie Uebbing trains last week to prepare for her first Boston Marathon, competing in the marathon a year after the deadly bombing that terrorized the finish line.

 

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Annemarie Uebbing found running late in life.
In 2003, the Kearny resident just began running as a form of exercise.
“I saw that there was a race in Bayonne and thought it was a good idea to try it,” Uebbing said. “The race was for a charity, so I thought it was good. As it turned out, I had so much fun.”
Little did she know that it would become a major part of Uebbing’s life.
“I started to do other races,” Uebbing said. “I liked getting the goody bags that they gave to runners. It was also a good way to meet others.”
At that time, Uebbing never dreamed it would eventually lead to her running marathons.
“When I first started, I never thought I would run a marathon,” Uebbing said. “I just did the 5K races. Now, I hate 5Ks.”
She wanted longer distances.
“I think it was part physical and part mental,” said Uebbing, who qualified to compete in the Boston Marathon for the first time last Monday. “I just started to like the longer distances.”
In 2005, Uebbing ran a half-marathon in Jersey City. She also competed in a 10-kilometer race in her native Buffalo.
“It’s the oldest Turkey Trot in the country,” Uebbing said of the Thanksgiving Day race. “My nephew was running track at that time, so I did it with him. It was a lot of fun and found out that there were a lot of other races.”
Soon after, Uebbing began training seriously to run marathons.
In 2007, Uebbing ran the New York Marathon for the first time and finished in 4:11.33.
“Once I started running marathons, Boston always became the goal,” Uebbing said. “But I needed to have a better time. I also needed to be older. I needed to be 50. I needed to cut my time and get two years older.”
But the marathon bug had definitely bitten Uebbing. She ran the Berlin Marathon in 2008 and competed once again in New York, still pining to run Boston.
In 2009, she married her husband, Sergio Cano, who was also a competitive runner.
“He never runs with me during races,” Uebbing said. “He’s so much faster than me.”
She was hoping to cut her time enough to qualify for Boston, but she suffered a knee injury that sidelined her for almost a year.
“With the knee and not training, I never thought I would get it,” Uebbing said. Uebbing returned to running regularly in 2010 and competed in the Chicago Marathon.
“It was extremely hot that day,” Uebbing recalled. “I don’t like the heat.”
In 2011, Uebbing and her running club, the Clifton Roadrunners, ran together in the Baltimore Marathon, still looking to get a time worthy of competing in Boston.
A year later, Uebbing competed in a marathon in Amsterdam.
“I trained well and there were good conditions,” Uebbing said. “The one thing I like about running in Europe, it’s all kilometers and not miles. But I still never thought I’d get into Boston. They made the qualifications tougher and tougher. It was just getting harder and harder to get in. I trained hard during the summer. I ran the race a little ahead of my pace and finished in 4:07.33. I didn’t know if that was a qualifying time. There was no guarantee.”
She watched the 2013 Boston Marathon on television. She watched in horror as the bombs went off near the finish line, killing four people and maiming hundreds of others.
“That was so upsetting,” Uebbing said. “There are tons of people at the finish line,
cheering. It’s such a huge event. Running had given somuch to these people. To see all these people terrorized, it was just such an affront to something I love. I couldn’t believe that it happened to Boston like that.”
Last year, Uebbing received word that her time in Amsterdam was good enough to qualify for Boston.
Needless to say, Uebbing was determined to run the Boston Marathon this year.
“I’d say it really inspired me,” Uebbing said. “I wanted to show that running is stronger than the bombing. I don’t know if things are normal, but we’re going to
try. We’re going to prove that we’re stronger than what happened.”
Uebbing will be running with three members of her running club, all competing in the Master’s division.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Uebbing said.
The director for community planning and development for the federal Housing and Urban Development office in Newark, Uebbing trains by running home to Kearny from her Newark office daily.
For Uebbing to make her Boston Marathon debut on the year anniversary of the bombing is almost surreal.
“I think I’m going to be an emotional wreck when I reach the finish line,” Uebbing said. “I hope I’m not dehydrated from crying. In some ways, it’s not believable for me, to be able to run in this one. This race means so much to the running community. I have friends who didn’t get in and others I know will never get in. But I got in this year.”
Needless to say, it will be an emotional day for Uebbing, seeing a quest that took more than a decade to become reality at the world’s most famous road race.
“I’m going to just enjoy it,” Uebbing said. “There will be so much to take in. We’re going to prove that we are better than the bombers.”

QP’s Pettigrew erupts at right time

Photo by Jim Hague Queen of Peace junior shortstop Mike Pettigrew.

Photo by Jim Hague
Queen of Peace junior shortstop Mike Pettigrew.

 

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

The struggles at the plate were getting to Mike Pettigrew.
After all, the Queen of Peace junior shortstop did all the right things in the offseason to prepare for this season, after struggling somewhat as a sophomore.
But Pettigrew wasn’t seeing any results of his hard work.

“I wasn’t hitting the ball well at all,” Pettigrew said. “I definitely did a lot of offseason work, lifting weights and working out. I knew I had to improve over last year. I had to make an adjustment.”
Queen of Peace head coach  Steve Mancinelli had faith in Pettigrew.
“I knew he had the ability,” Mancinelli said. “He worked hard on his own. He played the outfield last year. I thought moving him back to shortstop, his natural position, would help him. I expected him to step in and be the starting shortstop. I knew he could field. I was a little skeptical about his hitting.”
Then, almost magically, something clicked inside of Pettigrew.
“He really started to crush the ball,” Mancinelli said.
“Once he got his timing down, he really started killing the ball.”
“I changed a lot of things at the plate,” Pettigrew said. “I think I started to see the ball well lately. The beginning of the season, I was sloppy. But not recently.”
Over the past week, Pettigrew has been downright mashing the baseball.
In the past week alone, in Golden Griffin wins against St. Benedict’s Prep, Leonia and Saddle Brook, Pettigrew has been almost unconscious with the bat.
Pettigrew had 11 hits in those wins, including four doubles, two triples, one homer and nine RBI.
For his efforts, Pettigrew has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
“He really brings a lot of speed and power to the bottom half of our batting order,”
Mancinelli said. “We had him batting fifth at the start of the year, then dropped him to seventh and now he’s back up to sixth. He’s also taken control of the infield. Now that he’s the shortstop, he’s stepped into the lead role, talking and communicating with his teammates. It’s great.”
Pettigrew doesn’t know what triggered the hot streak, but he’s certainly not complaining.
“I’m pretty surprised,” Pettigrew said. “I just feel locked in right now. I feel like I’m going to hit the ball hard every time out. Based on what I was doing at the beginning of the season, I’d have to say I’m surprised.”
Pettigrew’s explosion has enabled him to get his season average back over the .400 mark to .409.
Pettigrew was asked if moving back to shortstop had anything to do with his recent surge.

“It might have,” Pettigrew said. “I feel comfortable at shortstop. It’s the position I
always played my whole life. But wherever the team needed me most, that’s where I was playing. I’ll do whatever is best for the team.”
Pettigrew said that he’s not planning to complain about anything these days.
“Whatever is going on right now, I’m not going to argue with it,” Pettigrew said. “As for now, I just want the team to win and I’ll do whatever it takes for us to win.”
Pettigrew is the same way as a starting basketball player. He was the one who hit the game-winning shot for the Golden Griffins at the buzzer to give QP a gigantic upset win over St. Joseph of Montvale in the semifinals of the Bergen County Jamboree last month.
“When it first happened, people told me that they saw it on the Internet,” Pettigrew said. “It was one of the craziest moments of my life. I just had to put it up and the shot went in. It was nuts. When I think about making that shot, it was just insane. I guess people just like seeing buzzer beaters.”
“I’m a proponent for athletes to play as many sports as possible,” Mancinelli said. “We try to help out the other varsity teams. Mike is one who helps everyone, including the opponent. He plays off the competitiveness of the other sports. I think it really helps him.”
Pettigrew isn’t sure about what sport he likes more.

“I can’t say which one is better,” Pettigrew said. “I know I’m improving in baseball a lot. I know I just want to win and help our team make the state playoffs. That’s my No. 1 priority right now.”
Mancinelli believes that Pettigrew’s torrid week is just a start.
“I really hope that he does,” Mancinelli said. “I can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t continue. He’s just seeing the ball well and hitting it hard. He’s just a fun loving kid, who is bit of an instigator at times. But he’s a smart kid with a high baseball IQ. Mike has just managed to come on huge for us. He’s putting the barrel of the bat on the ball and hitting it hard. You can’t ask for more than that.”
“I just definitely hope things continue to go well,” Pettigrew said. “I’m comfortable now. We’re winning (the Golden Gophers moved to 5-4 with the 13-12 win over Saddle Brook last Saturday) and I just want to win for my team. That’s the No. 1 priority right now.”
The win streak now stands at 3, with the victory over Saddle Brook.
“The whole team has been hitting,” Pettigrew said. “It’s almost contagious.”
As for the shortstop who has seen his batting average improve by nearly 200 points, Pettigrew will take that kind of sickness any day of the week.

Golden Griffins survive tough schedule under new coach Steel

Photo by Jim Hague The Queen of Peace softball team is spearheaded by the play of its senior captains. From l. are Nikki Sammartino, Melissa Gallo, head coach George Steel, Gabby Lombardozzi and Raychel Piserchia.

Photo by Jim Hague
The Queen of Peace softball team is spearheaded by the play of its senior captains. From l. are Nikki Sammartino, Melissa Gallo, head coach George Steel, Gabby Lombardozzi and Raychel Piserchia.

 

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

For the last 40 years or so, George Steel has heard all the jokes about his name. And no, he’s not the famous professional wrestler.

“I’ve heard it all the time,” said Steel, a lifetime Kearny resident. “I have to explain that I’m not a Yale professor like he is. Everyone calls me ‘The Animal’ because of him. We have a lot of fun with the name.”

Steel is also a coaching lifer. For years, Steel helped to run the Kearny Generals youth football program. He was also an assistant football coach at Queen of Peace under several regimes, including the state championship team coached by Andy Cerco.

“I’ve been back and forth at Queen of Peace,” said Steel, who also served as an assistant under head coaches Tom Ferriero and Ed Stinson.

For the last few years, Steel has been an assistant football coach at Morris Catholic in Denville.

This spring, Steel took on a different challenge – becoming the head softball coach at Queen of Peace

. “I think this year’s team can be a little more productive than last year’s team,” said Steel, who was an assistant softball coach at QP last year under Mike Flynn. “To be honest, we had only one scrimmage game (in the preseason) because of the weather. We used the first couple of games as practice for the rest of the season.”

With that in mind, Steel isn’t too concerned about the team’s 2-3 start. The Golden Griffins defeated Dwight-Englewood and Harrison, before falling to Secaucus and Lyndhurst last week.

“We scored six runs in the seventh inning to beat Dwight- Englewood,” Steel said. “We hit the ball real well.”

Steel feels that better times are ahead.

“I think when the girls can get on a little bit of a roll,” Steel said, “I think we can compete with anybody. We’re going to do better. I knew the last part of the schedule was going to be tough. I knew we would have a slow start. But we’re now to the point in our schedule where we’ll get some wins.”

Leading the way is senior pitcher Gabby Lombardozzi, a three-year veteran on the mound for the Golden Griffins.

“She’s not overpowering, but she has good control,” Steel said. “She does what I ask her to do. She throws strikes. If she can stay ahead in the count, she’s good. But if she pitches from behind, she gets in trouble.”

The catcher is freshman Ashley Ruivo, who is a rarity behind the dish being left-handed.

“She’s one of the few girls who was willing to go behind the plate,” Steel said. “Gabby picked her. Gabby wanted Ashley to be the catcher. If she gets time behind the plate, she could be a good one. She also has good speed. She’s one of our faster players.”

The first base duties are being shared by a pair of seniors. Senior captain Melissa Gallo has been a hot bat in the early going, batting almost .500.

“She’s hitting the ball well,” Steel said. “She has improved tremendously. She put a lot of time in during the offseason to get better and it’s showed.”

The other senior first baseman is Samantha Martinez, who has been solid offensively.

“She just needs to improve defensively,” Steel said.

Senior Sarah Lopez is the team’s second baseman. Lopez, who is also a part of the famed QP cheerleading squad, is a newcomer to softball.

“She hasn’t played a lot, so she needs a little work,” Steel said of Lopez.

Senior Adrianna Giangregorio and freshman Jane Amadeo are also seeing time at second base. Amadeo has a bright future as a pitcher.

“She’s a good all-around player,” Steel said of Amadeo.

The shortstop is senior veteran Nikki Sammartino, who has been a mainstay there since she was a freshman. Sammartino was an Observer Athlete of the Week last season.

Photo by Jim Hague Senior right-hander Gabby Lombardozzi, seen here in action last week against Secaucus, needs to keep throwing strikes for the Queen of Peace softball team.

Photo by Jim Hague
Senior right-hander Gabby Lombardozzi, seen here in action last week against Secaucus, needs to keep throwing strikes for the Queen of Peace softball team.

 

“She’s hitting the ball well, batting better than .600,” Steel said.

Sammartino is headed to Rutgers-Newark in the fall.

Senior Kristen Vitale, another first-year player, is the third baseman.

“She’s doing a good job defensively,” Steel said.

Junior Jamie Nemeth is the Golden Griffins’ left fielder and the team’s fastest player.

“She’s our leadoff hitter and one of the fastest kids I’ve ever seen,” Steel said.

Senior Raychel Piserchia is another captain, along with Sammartino, Gallo and Lombardozzi, and the starter in centerfield.

“She’s one of the best hitters on the team,” Steel said. “She’s also very good defensively.”

A pair of seniors, Tori Fortunato and Kyra Gil, is splitting time in right field.

Senior Dana DeAnni will get a chance to pitch, spelling Lombardozzi, from time to time.

Steel said that he ran into a small obstacle recently, when there weren’t enough capable players to field a competitive junior varsity squad.

“We did a little search in the school and a couple girls came out,” Steel said. “We needed to get more people involved to keep the program moving. We don’t have a feeder program like some of the public schools. Some come to us never having played softball before, so it’s a little bit of a hindrance.”

But the Golden Griffins have survived the tough times and should thrive as the season moves forward.

“The girls are talented,” Steel said. “They’re trying hard and they want to play. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for. You want girls who want to play.”

The Golden Griffins are scheduled to face some of the area’s top competition, like North Arlington and Kearny, in the weeks to come. Steel wants to get his team to the NJSIAA Non- Public B North state playoffs. They will need a few more wins before they can even consider such a lofty perch.

Mendez takes over Harrison baseball program

Photo by Jim Hague The Harrison baseball team will go as far as the team’s deep pitching staff will carry them. From l. are Tommy Dolaghan, Josh Williams, Sebastian Sanchez, head coach Jairo Mendez, Moises Roque, Markis Valentin and Kishan Patel.

Photo by Jim Hague
The Harrison baseball team will go as far as the team’s deep pitching staff will carry them. From l. are Tommy Dolaghan, Josh Williams, Sebastian Sanchez, head coach Jairo Mendez, Moises Roque, Markis Valentin and Kishan Patel.

 

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Observer

At 28 years old, Jairo Mendez is not far removed from his playing days, when he was an excellent pitcher, first at Kearny High School and later on, Montclair State.

But Mendez feels he’s ready for the challenge of being a high school baseball head coach. Thus the reason why he took over the Harrison High School program this season, after Sean Dolaghan stepped down for family obligations.

Mendez, who had been an assistant coach with the Blue Tide for the past four years with Dolaghan, had an inkling that the program would be his toward the end of last season.

“He told me that he was going to step down because of his family,” Mendez said. “Sean recommended me for the job and spoke highly of me. I think that helped put me in a good spot. I felt like I was ready. The challenge is always exciting.”

Mendez said that he didn’t get that much grief from his closest friends in Kearny, taking over as head coach at the neighboring rival school.

“Maybe I heard things when I first started, but not now,” Mendez said. “In fact, my friends were all congratulating me and wishing me luck more than anything.”

Mendez was asked about the transition, going from assistant coach to head coach.

“It really has been pretty easy,” Mendez said. “My assistant coaches (Jimmy Morais, Charles Comprelli, Paul Herbster, Jose Morillo, Alex Delgado and Joe Wroblewski) have all helped me out a lot. It’s been okay. I’m not there to make friends. I’m there to teach them about baseball and teach them life skills. It’s almost like being the boss of a company.”

The Blue Tide has enjoyed a good start to Mendez’s first season as head coach, winning five of their first seven games.

Leading the way is senior right-handed pitcher Tommy Dolaghan, the former coach’s nephew, who has done everything and anything leading the Blue Tide.

Dolaghan has won his first two decisions, including a 10-2 win over Dickinson of Jersey City last weekend. Dolaghan allowed only one earned run, striking out eight and surrendering just five hits. He also had two hits and two RBI in the win.

“He has the most experience of anyone on our staff,” Mendez said of the former Observer Athlete of the Week. “He’s been battling since Day One. He throws all of his pitches for strikes and mixes up his pitches well. He changes speed well and hits his spots.”

Senior Sebastian Sanchez is another top returning hurler. The right-hander has a lot of confidence in his pitches.

“He’s not overpowering but he keeps it low and gets a lot of support from his teammates,” Mendez said of Sanchez.

Sophomore Markise Valentin is another solid pitcher.

“He comes from all different angles,” Mendez said. “He comes from the side, over the top, anywhere. And he has a lot of movement on his pitches.”

Junior Josh Williams is the team’s lone left-handed pitcher.

“He reminds me of Cliff Lee,” Mendez said of Williams, referring to the Philadelphia Phillies’ ace. “He challenges hitters and changes speeds. He has very good location and he’s going to be a good one.”

Senior Moises Roque is another solid pitcher, as well as seniors Kishan Patel and football star Adam Huseinovic.

“I think Adam is going to be a key pitcher for us,” Mendez said. “He has the ability to shut the door.”

Look for Huseinovic to be the Blue Tide’s closer this season.

The catcher is junior Miguel Zorrilla, who is an excellent defensive backstop.

“He is handling the pitchers well,” Mendez said. “He works hard and is a student of the game.”

Seniors Ricky DeSilveira and Danny Gerris are sharing the first base duties. Gerris is a transfer from St. Peter’s Prep.

“Ricky is very good defensively,” Mendez said. “Danny hits the ball well and hits it all over the field.”

Valentin is the returning starter at second base. When Valentine is on the mound, junior Jordan Villalta steps in.

Valentin was clutch Saturday against Dickinson, delivering two RBI.

Dolaghan and Roque share duties at shortstop, alternating depending upon who is pitching. Roque had three hits and three runs scored against Dickinson.

Third base duties belong to Sanchez. When Sanchez is on the mound, sophomore Craig Ruff takes the mound.

Left field responsibilities fall on the shoulders of Williams and when the lefty is pitching, then senior Brian Carr is out there.

Huseinovic is a fixture in centerfield. He might be known as a football player, but Mendez likes what Huseinovic brings to the diamond.

“He’s a good all-around baseball player,” Mendez said. “He has good power and could be our cleanup hitter.”

Huseinovic had two RBI in the win over Dickinson.

The right field duties are being shared by senior J.P. Ferriero and Patel and sophomore Felix Calderon.

The Blue Tide survived a tough early season schedule in fine fashion. The 5-2 record comes as no surprise.

“I’m very excited about this team,” Mendez said. “It’s a pleasure to be with the kids. I know we will be competitive.”

The Blue Tide, under the guidance of Mendez, has already proven the coach’s prediction to be true.

Lyndhurst’s Tellefsen steps in nicely as Golden Bears’ top hurler

Photo by Jim Hague Lyndhurst junior pitcher Jenn Tellefsen.

Photo by Jim Hague
Lyndhurst junior pitcher Jenn Tellefsen.

 

 

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

When Emily Ringen took over the Lyndhurst High School softball program earlier this year, she wondered who would become the Golden Bears’ top pitcher, ever since Casey Zdanek graduated and took her immense talents to Drew University.

However, Ringen had a good idea which way she would lean to give the ball to, namely junior Jenn Tellefsen.

“I knew Jenn’s travel (team) coaches and I spoke with (former Lyndhurst coach) Elaine (Catanese),” Ringen said. “I had 100%confidence that Jenn would be our No. 1. I knew that she was predominately an infielder, but that she was a pitcher first. I knew that she was capable of stepping right in and doing well for us.”

Tellefsen was already preparing to take over the key position.

“Since freshman year, I was placed at shortstop, but I’m not really an infielder,” Tellefsen said. “I just had to wait until Casey graduated. She was older, better and more experienced. I just had to wait my turn. But since I was young, I was always a pitcher. I was just hoping that I could do as well as well as what Casey did. She was amazing over her four years.”

Ringen knew that Tellefsen was the real deal.

“She has a lot of power and speed in her pitches,” Ringen said. “She has the mindset of a softball player. She’s a very powerful force out there and takes care of business.”

Tellefsen said that she worked hard during the offseason to prepare for the challenge.

“I practiced my pitches every day,” Tellefsen said. “I don’t play another sport, so I can concentrate on softball.”

Tellefsen has been honing her craft since she was younger.

“I’ve been going to pitching lessons since I was in fifth grade,” Tellefsen said. “I work with Jen Barnes in Closter.”

Over the off-season, Tellefsen said she learned a few new pitches.

“I learned a rise and a drop,” Tellefsen said.

However, before the Golden Bears’ season opener, Tellefsen was suffering from a bit of the jitters.

“I was really nervous before my first game,” Tellefsen said. “I wanted to prove to myself and to everyone that I could pitch, but it was a little nerve wracking.”

Those jitters are a part of ancient history, because Tellefsen has been downright dominant since she entered the circle for the first time.

Tellefsen has pitched to a 7-2 record, with an astounding 95 strikeouts compared to just five walks. That is impeccable control.

After striking out 16 batters in a win over Kearny earlier this season, Tellefsen enjoyed a great week last week.

She struck out 15 in a win over Leonia, a game that Tellefsen won on her own with a late three-run homer. She had 10 strikeouts in four innings in a win over Queen of Peace, a game where she slugged another round tripper.

She had 10 strikeouts in a 2-0 loss to Kittatinny, but rebounded with nine strikeouts in four innings in a blowout win of Collingswood Saturday.

For the season, Tellefsen is batting .400 with three homers and 14 RBI.

For her efforts, Tellefsen has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

“She really has been great,” Ringen said. “She has tremendous speed in her pitches. Batters are simply not getting around on her. The momentum she has had has been great. She keeps the ball inside and outside. She has a good pace of the game. She gets the ball and fires it in.”

“Ever since I was younger, I was taught to control my speeds,” Tellefsen said. “I don’t even begin to learn a new pitch until I can control it. I think that throwing hard doesn’t matter unless you have control. I concentrate on throwing strikes more than anything else. I concentrate on finishing my pitches and that’s helped with my control.”

But 95 punch outs compared to just five walks? That’s impeccable control.

“I’m very surprised I have that,” Tellefsen said. “I’ve worked on all my pitches, but I never expected this.”

While it’s easy to focus on what Tellefsen does on the mound, she’s also a ferocious hitter as well, evidenced by the clutch homer against Leonia.

“She bailed us out in the Leonia game big time,” Ringen said. “She hit an absolute shot and like that, we were up three.”

Tellefsen said that she was just trying to make solid contact.

“Alyssa Pipon got hit by a pitch right before I got up,” Tellefsen said. “She said, ‘It’s your turn to hit the ball.’ I just hit the ball and ran. I was so relieved it was a home run, because I was able to drive my teammates in.”

Ringen said that Tellefsen is a dangerous hitter as well.

“She’s up there to hit,” Ringen said. “Her power is unbelievable. She’s an elite softball player, both as a pitcher and a hitter. You don’t get to see a lot of girls who play softball all year. But that’s what Jenny does. She plays 10 months a year. She’s taken a good control of this team and helping out the other pitchers and catchers. I’m very impressed.”

“I like to think of myself as being a pitcher who can hit,” Tellefsen said.

Ringen can’t sing Tellefsen’s praises enough.

“She’s doing all the right things right now, on the mound, in the batter’s box,” Ringen said. “She’s also a very good student.”

It means that Tellefsen would be someone that the colleges would want to look at.

“I’d love to play softball in college,” Tellefsen said. “I am trying to go either Division II or possibly Division I. I have a lot of confidence in myself right now. I also think we can go pretty far this season.”

When the season ends at Lyndhurst, Tellefsen will play for the New Jersey Pride, a quality travel program based in Fairfield.

“But I love playing with my Lyndhurst teammates,” Tellefsen said. “We all get along great.”

“She’s a funny kid,” Ringen said. “She has a lot of one-liners that make everyone laugh. She jumps right in with everyone. She’s very friendly and very respectful. She’s matured nicely on the field and in the classroom.”

As long as Tellefsen keeps pitching and hitting the way she has been thus far, the Lyndhurst softball team can go a long way.