Lyndhurst softball in the hunt for NJIC Liberty crown

The Lyndhurst High School softball team has a 7-3 record in the early stages of the 2017 season and a 6-1 mark inside the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference-Liberty Division. The Golden Bears stand just a game behind Ridgefield in the league standings.

“I’m impressed,” said Lyndhurst head coach Emily Ringen, after her team participated in the Autism Awareness Challenge in Weehawken Saturday and as a team, raised more than $600 for the cause. “We have a strong infield. I’m pumped about the infield.”

The Golden Bears also have a solid pitcher in senior Olivia McMullin, who is having a brilliant senior year. McMullin has been absolutely on fire at the plate, batting .633 with five doubles, five triples, one homer and 16 RBI. McMullin drove in an astounding six runs in a win over Harrison last week.

“She gets stronger every inning,” Ringen said. “She’s improved since last year. She’s hitting her spots and her confidence has increased.”

Junior Genna Ricciardi is the Bears’ catcher. Ricciardi is hitting .586 with four doubles, two triples, one homer and 13 RBI. McMullin and Ricciardi give the Bears a dangerous 1-2 punch at the plate and on the field.

“She played a lot of club softball over the summer to get ready for this year,” Ringen said. “She worked hard to adapt her feet and her throws have become more powerful.”

Ricciardi had three RBI in consecutive wins over Harrison and Secaucus.

Makenzie McMillan (.435 batting average) and Angela Downey (.522 batting average with 14 RBI) have provided strength in the middle of the infield, with McMillan at second base and Downey at shortstop after having the played the outfield last year.

Those are some impressive offensive numbers at the top of the Golden Bears’ lineup.

“I tell them that I don’t want heroes,” Ringen said. “I want hits. I don’t want to depend on the home run. We have to put things together each inning.”
Ringen said the Golden Bears’ victories over New Milford and Secaucus
were huge confidence builders, but they have to step up their play now because most of the league games in the second half of the season are on the road.

“Those were big wins, but we have to prove ourselves now,” Ringen said.

The Golden Bears have games against Leonia and Bergen Charter this week.

“It brings our girls back to reality,” Ringen said. “We have to reset the goals and get ready for the second half. We’d like to repeat those results.”

Ringen said that he was happy to have his team participate in the Autism Awareness Challenge Saturday against Ferris of Jersey City.

The game was played at the Weehawken Recreation facility, which is located right on the Hudson River waterfront. So the game was played with the majestic New York skyline as a backdrop. That’s something that doesn’t exactly take place every day.

“We were the second team to raise the most amount of money,” Ringen said of the eight teams that participated in the two-day event. “I used to work at a special education school. It’s the kind of stuff that is really special to me. It was a good cause.”

And now the Golden Bears have to gear up for the second half of the season.

“We have to be ready,” Ringen said.


Lyndhurst senior pitcher Olivia McMullin gets serious while delivering a pitch in the Autism Awareness Challenge at the Weehawken Recreation complex Saturday. Photo by Jim Hague

Lyndhurst’s Olivia McMullin throws a pitch with shortstop Angela Downey behind her as well as the Empire State Building in Manhattan during the Autism Awareness Challenge Saturday in Weehawken. Photo by Jim Hague

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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.”