The Ferris High School baseball program suffered a loss last week, when Ladesha Wadley, the mother of standout pitcher/outfielder Deshard Outlaw, died suddenly.
Wadley was a key parent who assisted the program in many ways.
“She was really supportive of everyone,” said veteran Ferris head baseball coach Mike Hogan. “She helped to raise a lot of money for us to be able to go to Florida. When we went to Florida just recently, she helped out by washing the team’s uniforms before we played. She never missed a game. She went above and beyond the call of a parent.”
Hogan said that the real tragedy in Wadley’s passing was that she died so close to Mothers’ Day, as well as Outlaw’s birthday, which was last Tuesday.
To Outlaw’s credit, he did not take any time away from his team during his family’s period of mourning, as the Bulldogs were set to face North Bergen in the Ed “Faa” Ford Memorial Hudson County Tournament quarterfinals Wednesday…
There was another sad note involving Hudson County sports this week, as Lori Sorrentino Hennessey passed away after battling cancer for the last few years. Lori was a beautiful woman who was only 46 years old. She was a pre-kindergarten teacher at P.S. 28 Christa McAuliffe School in the Jersey City Heights and the wife of former Marist and Snyder assistant basketball coach Mark Hennessey. Lori was the daughter-in-law of Hudson County Sports Hall of Famer Kevin Hennessey, the former St. Aloysius High School track and field legend.
Lori was just last month honored as the P.S. 28 Teacher of the Year and received honors from both the Dante Aligieri Society last October and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee last year. She was a beautiful, vibrant, loving and caring teacher, wife and mother who will be so sorely missed.
Cancer is perhaps the toughest opponent we face as people and more often than not, cancer wins. We applaud when someone defeats cancer and deeply mourn losses. This was a tough loss that thousands of Jersey City residents are currently trying to endure. Thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Hennessey family, especially Mark and his two daughters…
St. Peter’s University has a new athletic director in Bryan Felt and the former Seton Hall administrator is already battling some huge obstacles in the first few months since taking the job at Harvard on the Boulevard.
For one, Felt had to replace both his men’s and women’s basketball coaches. He did so by bringing on former FDU-Florham head coach Marc Mitchell to take over the floundering SPU women’s program – a program that posted a hideous 19-136 record under former head coach Pat Coyle.
Then, when the most successful coach of any Peacock teams, men’s hoops coach John Dunne, decided to leave to take a similar position at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Felt had to find someone to replace Dunne and did so by enticing long-time colleague and friend Shaheen Holloway to leave Seton Hall to take the head coaching position at St. Peter’s.
Felt is confident in those two personnel moves. He feels that the athletic department will be moving in the right direction with Holloway and Mitchell.
But there were other major decisions that Felt has had to endure. Last week, Felt announced the discontinuation of the women’s bowling program as well as both the men’s and women’s tennis programs. The move, believed by Felt and the administration to be a cost-cutting solution, left approximately 50 student/athletes out in the cold, looking to find other suitable schools to continue their athletic careers.
“It was a difficult decision,” Felt said. “It was the most difficult decision I faced since I’ve come here. The university took a strategic view of all of our programs. We are extremely limited in our resources, yet we field 19 sports. This was a tough decision because it affected so many of our student/athletes.”
Felt said that part of the decision to eliminate the tennis program stemmed from the damage that has been done over the years to the bubble that sits atop the school’s main athletic facility, the Yanitelli Center. The bubble encased the courts where the tennis team played, but Felt believes that the space can be better utilized than the underused tennis structure.
“We’ve launched a campaign to better utilize the Rec Center,” Felt said. “It’s a large amount of space up there and we want to make sure we have an all-purpose Rec Center.”
Felt said that one of the first moves will be to put a conventional roof on top, so the bubble will become history in the coming months.
Another obstacle is the state of the school’s baseball program. When the Peacocks defeated Iona last Saturday, 7-1, it snapped an embarrassing 77-game losing streak dating back to May of 2016. The Peacocks lost all 38 games last season and dropped their first 39 games this season before defeating Iona. They were outscored during the streak by an average of 12-3 and surrendered 25 runs a total of six times. Those statistics are flabbergasting.
The losing streak, the longest in the nation, gained national attention when it ended Saturday. There were celebratory notes on Twitter and Facebook, proclaiming the end of the misery.
Danny Ramirez has been the head coach for the last two seasons. He was hired by former athletic director Belinda “Boe” Pearman, who resigned after a tumultuous 14-month stint as the AD at the school.
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve done a review of all of our programs,” Felt said. “The baseball program has been in rough shape and has been that way for a while, even before the current coach got here.”
Felt is right. The last time the Peacocks were even competitive in baseball was 2007, when they posted a 23-29 record.
Ready for this stat? Since the 2006 season, St. Peter’s has posted a collective record of 173-471-1 in 13 seasons. Hey, it was a good tie. Can you imagine that the Peacocks have lost almost 300 more games than they’ve won over the last 13 years? It’s beyond ridiculous.
“Our baseball players are model citizens,” Felt said. “I’m really happy they got that win. We can certainly cheer it. They deserved it. But we have to look at it on a larger scale.”
Needless to say, Felt will have to look at the larger scale after the season to see whether Ramirez deserves to be brought back. Coaches with 1-77 records usually are shown the door…
The weather has caused major havoc to both the Hudson County baseball and softball tournaments, with the softball tourney championship now slated for Tuesday at a site to be determined and the baseball title game scheduled for Wednesday, also at a site to be determined. Times for the respective championship games have also not been set because of the postponements to most of the quarterfinal round contests that were supposed to be played last week…
Hudson Reporter High School Baseball Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (19-4). 2. Ferris (15-6-1). 3. Hudson Catholic (12-6). 4. Bayonne (13-9). 5. Memorial (14-7)…
Hudson Reporter High School Softball Top Five: 1. Ferris (16-2). 2. North Bergen (14-5). 3. Hudson Catholic (14-7). 4. St. Dominic Academy (14-6). 5. Hoboken (11-7). – Jim Hague.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.