Lyndhurst softball wants to keep winning tradition going


The Lyndhurst High School softball team won 18 games last year in head coach Emily Ringen’s second year at the helm.

Because of some huge losses to graduation, it would be tough for Ringen and the Golden Bears to duplicate the feat. After all, the Golden Bears lost ace pitcher Jenn Tellefsen, who is now at Florida State College at Jacksonville and doing extremely well, pitching to an 8-2 record with a 2.18 earned run average there.

“It’s hard to lose someone like Jenny,” Ringen said. “It’s like losing five players in one. She certainly was a key figure for us.”

Ringen is going to work at trying to prove that the Lyndhurst softball program is more than just Tellefsen.

“I think we have a good solid defense,” Ringen said. “I like what we have in pitching.”

Junior Olivia McMullen has the daunting task of stepping into the circle where Tellefsen once threw.

“She pitched here and there last year,” Ringen said of McMullen. “She was playing left field as well and then she got hurt and missed some time. But she knows the game of softball. She’s ready for this challenge. She throws strikes. She didn’t get the chances to pitch because we had Jenny.”

In fact, a lot of the key figures from a year ago are now gone.

“We were very fortunate last year to have a talented team,” Ringen said. “We’re not just rebuilding the team. We’re rebuilding the program. They were like pre-school kids coming to watch the big kids perform. Now, it’s their turn.”

The catcher is sophomore Genna Ricciardi.

“She’s a great blocker of the ball,” Ringen said. “She’s a good hitter who played right field last year. We just felt that we’re a better team all around if Ricciardi is the catcher. She has the catcher’s arm and she has good chemistry with Olivia, which is good. I believe that’s important, having that chemistry.”

Senior Giana Nerney is a four-year player. She may start the season at first base, although sophomore Ava Ruggier also plays first.

“It’s a healthy competition going on there for playing time,” Ringen said.

Second base duties belong to newcomer Makenzie McMillan, who worked especially hard in the offseason to get ready.

“I tried to calm her down,” Ringen said. “She was so excited to go to FASST twice a week and went to regular workouts. She’s ready.”

Senior Haley Duffy, the team’s slugger and resident shortstop, returns to the position this season.

“She’s the captain, the go-to person,” Ringen said. “Whenever we need something, we’re going to her. She’s the top senior.”

Third base duties are currently being shared by a pair of juniors, namely Olivia Cairns and Jessie Bolton.

“They bring something different to the lineup,” Ringen said. “But they’re both willing to field. Both will play a considerable amount.”

Left field duties are currently being shared by senior Melissa Torres and junior Jennifer Wartel.

Monica Laverty, who was the team catcher a year ago, has been moved to center field. Laverty was an undersized catcher, but she hit close to .400 and she’s a good leadoff hitter for the Bears.

“I believe I will keep her in the lead off slot.”

Three players are battling for playing time in right field, namely freshman Angel Downey and sophomore Gabby Schrnur, who will also serve as the No. 2 pitcher, and junior Christina Porta.

Junior Mia Luna, who is also a soccer standout, is another pitcher on the team and sophomore Kelly Weckstein is an outfielder with speed to burn.

The Golden Bears open their season April 1 against Wood-Ridge and will be tested right away, facing perennial power New Milford on April 4.

“I think we’re ready,” Ringen said. “The weather has been so cooperative. We were able to get outside and practice real life situations. This is Team 3 for me. Every year is a different team. This is Team 3 and they’re going to come out swinging. The kids all do well in school. They have fun here. If they’re having fun and learning something, then that’s winning to me. We’re going to go through it all together.”

Not a bad motto at all.



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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.”