By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
At age 25, Emily Ringen never thought she could become a head high school softball coach.
But it was always a goal and a dream of Ringen, a native of Pequannock who was also a catcher at SUNY-Cortland during her college days.
“It was a dream of mine since I first started playing softball,” Ringen said. “I always wanted to be a coach.”
For two years, Ringen served as an assistant at her high school alma mater Pequannock, but when the head coaching position opened up at Lyndhurst High School, where Ringen was already a physical education for two years, she jumped at the chance.
“I already was volunteering with the kids, working on their hitting,” Ringen said. “When (former head coach) Elaine (Catanese) told me she was stepping down to have a baby, I thought it would be awesome.”
Sure enough, Ringen got the job as head coach – and has hit the ground running with the Golden Bears.
“The kids have responded well,” Ringen said. “I’ve been truly blessed with a fantastic group. Elaine helped by giving me pointers on what I should do, but I have a great group. (Assistant) Coach (Diana) Auteri and I have been working side-by-side. She takes charge of the infield and I handle the pitchers and catchers.”
Ringen said that the players have been very positive.
“I’m very fortunate to have a team that has a good knowledge of the game and that is very thirsty to win,” Ringen said. “We have a very determined, dedicated and talented group.”
Although the team lost standout pitcher Casey Zdanek to graduation, the Golden Bears have junior Jenny Tellefsen to take over. The righthander has been outstanding moving to the mound.
“She’s a very powerful pitcher,” Ringen said. “She’s an elite player. She plays softball all year round. She’s very strong. She’s stepped right into a different role than she was used to and has been outstanding.”
Tellefsen is also a solid hitter as well.
“If her bat stays hot, I’ll be very happy,” Ringen said.
Sophomore Monica Laverty is the team’s new catcher.
“She’s the main piece of the team, working with Tellefsen,” Ringen said. “She has stepped right in and done a great job. Being a catcher myself, I look after her. I try to establish a language with her. But she has a lot of potential. She’s our No. 2 hitter in the lineup.”
Fellow sophomore Giana Nerney is the backup catcher, but she will also get some time behind the plate.
Senior Alyssa Pipon is the team’s first baseman. She has been a member of the Golden Bears’ varsity for three years.
“She’s a very good hitter,” Ringen said. “I have her in the lead-off spot.”
Senior Jenna DiTommaso is the starting second baseman.
“She’s a great fielder,” Ringen said of DiTomasso, who had three RBI in the Golden Bears’ season-opening win over Dwight-Englewood.
Senior Grace Tomko is the mainstay at shortstop. Tomko is a talented three-sport (soccer, swimming and softball) standout.
“She’s leaving this year, but I wish I could keep her for about eight more years,” Ringen said. “She’s one of a kind. She’s the team leader and one of our captains. She does it all.”
Senior Caroline Beatrice is the new third baseman.
“She shared time last year, but it’s her spot now,” Ringen said. “I joked with Elaine that she left me an awesome senior class. Caroline is proof of that.”
Senior Brooke Laverty, Monica’s older sister, is the starting left fielder. “She’s done more teaching than anyone,” Ringen said. “She’s a very determined player who has that extra drive.” Senior Dina Ingenito is the starting centerfielder.
“Dina is a good athlete and a leader out there,” Ringen said. “She has such a love for the game and I think it’s spreading to the others.”
Right field duties are being shared by junior Kayleigh O’Rourke and freshman Christine Porta.
“Christina is a good athlete who I can play anywhere,” Ringen said.
The Golden Bears have senior Sarah Brading as a back-up pitcher to Tellefsen.
“She’s also going to find a way to sneak into the lineup,” Ringen said. “She’s going to see time on the mound.”
The Golden Bears suffered a setback when Bianca Fata suffered a knee injury during basketball. Anterior cruciate ligament surgery was recommended, forcing Fata to the sidelines for the entire season.
“She’s going to be a part of the team on the sidelines,” Ringen said of Fata. “She’s going to finish out her senior year with this group.”
The Golden Bears are a happy bunch, led by the young and energetic coach.
“They’re teaching me more than I’m teaching them,” Ringen said. “I’m still learning, but I love it. This team talks about goals and mention one thing every day.” That would be the “threepeat” of championships in the Northern Jersey Interscholastic League-Meadowlands Division. “They’re going for the ‘three-peat,’” Ringen said. “I’m going for the one-peat. They talk about that goal every day and we’re going to use it as motivation.”
Sounds like this team doesn’t need much to get ready for local and state playoff runs.