WOOD-RIDGE, NJ - While it was not the final season that they envisioned, 87 members of the Class of 2020 were able to get in “One More Swing” Wednesday Night at Donna Ricker Field in Wood-Ridge. Thirty-one different Bergen County High Schools were represented in the game.
Split into three sets of Red and Blue teams, it was a full day of softball at Donna Ricker Field, with the first game starting at 4:30, and the final run scoring after 10:30 pm Wednesday evening.
The 4:30 game saw five Hasbrouck Heights players, Julia Campen, Amanda Gasparino, Alexa Marinelli, Gianna Martinez, and Erin Owen playing on the Red squad, coached by Hasbrouck Heights girls softball coach Jackie Ferranti. The Blue Team won, 5-3, but winners and losers were not the theme of the day,
“It was a great event, I want to thank Wood-Ridge for hosting and Erin Curatola for really spearheading the event,“ Ferranti stated. “It was a fun way for the girls to celebrate and have one last game together, no matter what the outcome was. I felt it was a great last memory to have for the seniors.”
It even allowed players who have played club ball against each other to share the diamond one last time as teammates, as Hasbrouck Heights Julia Campen and Emerson’s Nicole Graham and Stephanie Seretis.
“It was an awesome experience that I had this opportunity to play with not only my Emerson teammates but girls I played club softball with since the 10u level,“ said Graham. “It brought back great memories from tournaments and trips to Myrtle Beach, Pennsylvania and Florida to compete with them against teams from all over. This was a great opportunity to get out on the field one last time and just have fun.”
“I thought that the last swing tournament was so much fun,” Gasparino stated. “It was a great final goodbye to high school softball and it made me happy that I was able to experience one last game with my friends.”
“After many months of wanting to get back onto the field,” Seretis said “It was a lot of fun to play one last time with the girls that allowed me to love the game of softball.”
“It felt great being able to play one last time with everyone,“ Campen said. “I didn’t realize how much I missed playing. It was a great way to say goodbye to a sport I love. I was happy having one last game with (Coach) Ferranti as my coach.”
Once the teams settled in after the first inning, playing under speed-up rules (count started at 1-1), the game was crisp and well-played in the sweltering heat.
Before the final game started, Kirkby was recognized for all the work she had put in putting together the tournament. There was also a moment of silence to note the passing earlier in the week of Wood-Ridge girls basketball coach Lou Wejnert.
Game Three saw the Wood-Ridge seniors (Madylin Marino, Samantha Perez, Isabella Iacovino) take their newly turfed home field for the first, and last time. They were able to pull out a 11-10 victory in the bottom of the sixth. The game, which started without speed-up rules, had to be limited to six innings due to time constraints.
Gianna Penna’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth won it for the Blue Team and head coach Andrea Marino, who coached her final game representing Wood-Ridge. Marino, who coached Volleyball and Softball at Wood-Ridge resigned earlier in the spring to takeover the volleyball program at William Paterson University.
Mike Kilgallen, the Hasbrouck Heights girls basketball coach, was a coach of the Red team as he also the softball coach at Waldwick High School. Despite being on the short end of the score, he was happy with the evening overall.
“This game was the closure these kids deserve,” Kilgallen stated. “Their senior year was unique, but this was an opportunity for the seniors to get out there one final time together. Erin Kirkby can’t get enough credit for giving everyone a chance to play. It was an awesome night and experience, and it was a privilege to be a part of it. For one night, we were able to forget the craziness that’s surrounded us, and we could just play ball.”
“I thought the event was amazing,” Marino stated. “It was so nice to have all these senior athletes get that one final chance to play together with their teammates. So many people to thank for the evening happening. It could not have been possible without the following people, Erin Kirby coach of River Dell, for organizing the event, Senator Sarlo for securing the facilities, Wood-Ridge DPW for their efforts in sanitizing between games, and the staff we had working the games all day. Thanks to all the coaches that offered to help coach both the red and blue teams. I really think it was so important and special that these girls were able to have this type of closure.
“Although it was my last game coaching at Wood-Ridge, I will forever be a Blue Devil.” Marino stated. “It meant the world to me to be able to coach Sam, Bella and Maddie just one last time. It was the way it was supposed to end. Those three girls finished on a high note and so did I.”
Maddie Marino also commented on the evening.
“We all had the same loss of our senior year and our season, and it was nice to be able to all play together as a team, and celebrate each other together."
TAPinto Hasbrouck Heights/Wood-Ridge/Teterboro is Hasbrouck Heights, Wood-Ridge and Teterboro’s free daily news source, and is the official newspaper of the Hasbrouck Heights Board of Education, Hasbrouck Heights Borough Council, and Wood-Ridge Board of Education.