Before the 2015 high school softball season began, Lyndhurst second- year head softball coach Emily Ringen knew that she was replacing a lot of starters from last year’s 22-win team that captured the school’s first-ever NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II state championship.
Except for one key spot that really mattered, namely on the mound, with senior Jenn Tellefsen back for another go-round.
“I don’t have any worries with her in there,” Ringen said of Tellefsen. “She’s calm, cool and collected. It’s nice to have her with the ball in her hands. I have a lot of trust in her. She’s such a hard worker and always wants to get better.”
Tellefsen wasn’t satisfied resting on her laurels from a year ago, when she finished among the top 10 in New Jersey in strikeouts.
“Last year was last year,” Tellefsen said. “I practiced more in the offseason and went to pitching and hitting lessons all year because I wanted to get better. I was focusing on my mechanics, getting ready for college.”
Tellefsen has already signed a national letter of intent to attend Florida State College in Jacksonville, a junior college, so her future is already set.
“But I still want to impress people,” Tellefsen said.
“She is constantly working on getting better,” Ringen said. “For example, she’s developed more of a change-up this year, altering her motion a little. She now has a gorgeous change-up. Over the past few weeks, she has tinkered with her change-up and it’s worked so well.”
Part of the reason is that Tellefsen is winding down her brilliant career at Lyndhurst. There are only a handful of games remaining, then the possibility to defend the state sectional title.
“I don’t want to think about it too much,” Tellefsen said. “I’m excited about going to college, but I’m upset that high school is ending. I really enjoyed being here.”
Tellefsen is really saving her best for last. She won all four of her starts last week, defeating Harrison, Ridgefield, Queen of Peace and North Arlington. She struck out 18 and allowed no earned runs in the win over Harrison, struck out eight and allowed just one earned run in the victory over Ridgefield, struck out nine in a five-inning victory over Queen of Peace and closed out the week with a 15-strikeout, three-hitter, allowing no earned runs in the win over North Arlington.
Tellefsen is also doing damage at the plate, collecting four hits and four RBI in the win over Harrison and two hits and three RBI in the win over Queen of Peace.
This all comes on the heels of the sensational perfect game she fired against Secaucus two weeks ago, striking out 17 in the process.
For her efforts, Tellefsen has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
Tellefsen now has 255 strikeouts this season, well on her way to her preseason goal of collecting the unfathomable 300 strikeouts.
“We hope we can get her to that number,” Ringen said. “I’m su perstitious. I don’t want to talk about it. I like to take it one game at a time.”
“One of my main goals was to hit 300 (strikeouts),” Tellefsen said. “It looks pretty good, but I don’t want to think about it too much. I’m going to try my hardest. I know my team is behind my back.”
Tellefsen said she was particularly pleased to throw the perfect game against archrival Secaucus.
“It was just surprising,” Tellefsen said. “It was my first perfect game in high school. I’ve had a couple of no-hitters, but this was my first perfect game. It meant a lot to me that it came against one of our biggest rivals. But I really don’t pay attention to all that. I just want to win.”
Ringen loves what Tellefsen brings to the table.
“You have to have confidence when Jenn has the ball in her hands,” Ringen said. “Her body language and attitude sets the tone. She’s such a smart pitcher who doesn’t get rattled. You need a lot of mental toughness to be a successful pitcher. We have a lot of confidence with her pitching. She gets the job done.”
Tellefsen has pitched to a 15-6 record this season with her impressive total of strikeouts. At the plate, she’s hitting .466 with one homer and a team-best 28 RBI.
“I actually put her into the leadoff spot two weeks ago, because a lot of teams were not pitching to her,” Ringen said. “She knows the game and knows what to do at the plate. She’s always trying to help herself out. I’m just looking for her to make contact. But she manages to turn it on when it comes to offense.”
“When I hit, I’m always trying to get a base hit,” Tellefsen said. “But I think I’m better at pitching.”
Ringen will take Tellefsen’s contributions.
“I’ll take RBI over home runs every day,” Ringen said. “It means she’s doing her job. I’m really proud of her. She’s really focused right now. I just hope she can keep it going for the next few weeks.”
The Golden Bears will more than likely be the No. 5 seed in the North 2, Group II playoffs as they try to defend their title in a few weeks.
“I would love to be able to go through what we did last year,” Tellefsen said.
If she’s able to do that, then Jenn Tellefsen would be one of the greatest softball players in Lyndhurst High School history. That would be an incredible legacy to leave.
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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer
Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.
It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.
In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.
In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.
He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.
During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.
Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.
Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”