Lyndhurst’s softball team energized by freshman phenom sensation

Before the 2019 high school softball season began, Lyndhurst High School head coach Emily Ringen was concerned about losing four-year starting catcher Jenna Ricciardi.

“When you have a catcher for four years, you tend to take a few things for granted,” Ringen said of the All-NJIC Liberty Division backstop.

But the Golden Bears did have a lot of talent return from last year’s team.

“We have a lot of depth,” Ringen said. “We have a lot of options. We can put people all over the place. We can change things every game. Whoever has the hottest bat will play. We have some high expectations, especially with our freshman class.”

But no one could have ever imagined what Ringen’s top freshman pitcher would evolve into.

Her name is Ella Tozduman and she is taking the world by storm. Tozduman has been nothing short of brilliant so far. She has pitched three no-hitters this season, including two in the last week. The flame-throwing left-hander fired a no-hitter against Palisades Park, striking out 12 and threw a no-hitter against Bergen Charter, also fanning 12 in that game. Tozduman also fired a one-hitter against Leonia, fanning nine.

For good measure, Tozduman has done well at the plate. She had three hits and three RBI in the win over Bergen Charter. Tozduman has helped the Golden Bears jump out to a 10-3 record thus far and a one-game lead in the NJIC Liberty Division standings.

“She’s insanely disciplined for a freshman,” Ringen said of Tozduman. “Her knowledge of the game is incredible. She’s a 12-month-a-year pitcher. She’s playing softball all the time. She’s also a brilliant student. She’s the top student in her class. She’s definitely going to have quite the career with us. She’s a power pitcher with a ton of power. She’s very impressive.”

Senior Gabriela Schnur, who was the Golden Bears’ pitcher last season, gives the Golden Bears some pitching depth this season.

“She’s there if we need her,” Ringen said. “She’s there to give Ella a break.”

The starting catcher is also a freshman in Meghan Docherty, who is also an accomplished softball player.

“Ella and Meghan have been throwing together since middle school,” Ringen said. “She’s very coachable. She has a very good arm. I like what’s happening here between them.”

The first base duties are being shared by junior Alyssa Musto and another freshman Stephanie Mizeski.

Sophomore Gianna Alberti is the team’s second baseman and cleanup hitter.

“She’s a good power hitter,” Ringen said of Alberti.

Angela Downey is the team’s shortstop. She is also a great hitter, batting .521 with five home runs and 19 RBI. Downey recently recorded the 100th hit of her high school softball career. Downey is also a

“She’s our veteran there,” Ringen said. “She has just smooth, natural poise. She’s so consistent and confident.”

Third base responsibilities are being shared by junior Mackenzie Kelly and freshman Jaylene Rivera, who got the start as the designated player against Holy Angels and came through with three hits.

“She’s a strong softball player,” Ringen said of Rivera. “She’s going to have a good career here.”

In the outfield, Ringen likes to move her players around, so senior Morgan Laverty and junior Elaina Henning are moving back and forth between left field and right field.

“Elaina has good speed, so we use her there,” Ringen said. “Morgan knows the game and we rely on her knowledge. We’ve always had a Laverty on the team.”

Senior Emily Rogan is another player in the outfield mix. It’s Rogan’s first year of playing varsity softball.

Junior Amber Fasig missed all of last season due to injury, but she’s back this season. Junior Madison Schaefer is a pleasant surprise in the Golden Bear outfield. Schaefer is batting a robust .444 with 16 RBI.

Alexa Borrino is a sophomore and a transfer from DePaul Catholic. Senior Gabriella Swope is a transfer from St. Dominic Academy in Jersey City who has good speed and good experience.

Sophomore Sofia Crespo is another outfielder who has caught the eye of Ringen.

“She’s an amazing kid,” Ringen said of Crespo. “She’s a positive force on the team.”

Schnur is another key outfielder. She’s batting .450 with 11 RBI.

“I’m honored to have coached her for four years,” Ringen said of Schnur. “She’s a positive influence on everyone out there. She’s one of our captains.”

The Golden Bears are doing their fair share raising money for worthy causes. May is Mental Health Awareness month and the girls are doing their share of getting the word out about the importance of having mental health. On May 10, the ladies will celebrate their game with Dwight-Englewood by wearing lime green T-shirts for mental health month. There will be an information table set up at the game with literature about what can be done to help those who are in need of assistance with mental health.

“These are all issues that are important to all of us,” Ringen said.

And as a team, things couldn’t be better for the Golden Bears.

“We’re in a good spot right now,” Ringen said. “Our schedule has been demanding, but we’re holding our own. We should know where we stand in a couple of weeks.”




The Lyndhurst softball team will continue to be as solid as their senior leaders carry them. From left are Gabriela Schnur, head coach Emily Ringen and Angela Downey. Photo by Jim Hague


Freshman pitcher Ella Tozduman







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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.”