Back injury shelves Reingle’s stellar start

Former SJV star will be missed by St. Peter’s College squad


Staff Writer

Tricia ReingleTricia Reingle Tricia Reingle’s first year of pitching on the college level started just the way she thought it would.

But she never envisioned it ending the way it did.

Reingle got off to a flying start this spring pitching for St. Peter’s College as she won her first six starts and led the Peahens to one of their best starts in years.

Only 12 days into the 2006 season, however, Reingle’s back began to bother her, forcing her coaches to shut her down for two weeks. But when she returned, it was no better, and after two more painful starts, Tricia Reingle’s freshman season was over.

It turned out she had a hairline fracture in her back.

“I ended up going for an MRI and X-rays, and the doctors said I had two stress fractures in my back and two herniated discs,” Reingle said the other day while sitting in the St. Peter’s softball office. “I felt fine all year, and the team was playing really well. We went to Florida, and I threw real well down there, but then my back started bothering me. I don’t even know what happened.”

“The MRI showed Tricia had a previous hairline fracture in one of her discs,” said St. Peter’s softball coach Jeff Horohonich. “She probably never knew she had it. You could see it had basically healed, but a new one was causing the problem. She probably had the original hairline fracture years ago and didn’t know it.

“Tricia was pitching real well too,” he added. “She had a good Florida trip and was pitching real well in Delaware. It was a game in Delaware she pitched well, but at the end felt uncomfortable. So we got her checked out and decided to rest her and get some rehab. Then she tried to come back, but you could tell she was not pitching like her normal self.”

Of course, Reingle’s “normal self” is not like most pitchers. Anyone who followed her outstanding career at St. John Vianney would attest to that. In four years at SJV, the Aberdeen resident went 83-5, tying the Shore Conference record for the most career wins by a pitcher. Reingle’s 1,131 career strikeouts were also the fourth-most in state history.

As a senior, Reingle went 26-2 with a 0.15 ERA, giving up only four earned runs and 49 hits in 184 and two-thirds innings. She also broke her own Shore Conference record with 384 strikeouts.

This came on the heels of a junior year that saw her go 30-0 with a 0.07 ERA, and 364 strikeouts in 194 innings pitched. A three-time all-state selection, Reingle led the Lancers to four straight Shore Conference championships and a pair of NJSIAA Parochial A state titles.

So it came as no surprise when she picked up right where she left off at St. Peter’s College. The Peahens opened their season with the 2006 Rebel Games in Florida, where they faced teams from all over the country. After losing their season opener to Valparaisa 7-1, Reingle made her collegiate debut on the mound and promptly fired a four-hit shutout with six strikeouts as St. Peter’s blanked Maine 2-0.

The next day, she tossed a six-hitter and fanned six more batters as the Peahens edged Monmouth University, 4-3. The day after that she beat Robert Morris, 4-3, and two days later Reingle threw a two-hit shutout and struck out eight in a 2-0 win over a highly rated South Dakota State team.

Then in her fifth and final start down south, Reingle beat Lehigh 7-4. St. Peter’s went 7-3 on the 10-game trip (one of its best showings ever), and Reingle went 5-0 with five complete games, a 1.60 ERA, and 30 strikeouts and only five walks in 35 innings pitched.

A week later, St. Peter’s traveled to Delaware for another tournament and Reingle made her sixth start against LaSalle, one of the teams the Peahens lost to in Florida. But this time they beat them, 15-6, behind the six-hit, 10-strikeout pitching of Reingle. She also belted two doubles and drove in a pair of runs in the game.

That gave St. Peter’s a record of 9-3, and Reingle a perfect 6-0 mark. Everything seemed to be going fine.

But that was also the game Reingle first experienced some discomfort in her back.

“As soon as that game was over my back began bothering me,” she recalled. “I thought I pulled a muscle or something. But the pain just progressed.”

The LaSalle game was March 17, and Reingle didn’t pitch again until April 2.

The Peahens went 3-7 during her absence, and then lost the second game of a doubleheader to Marist, 9-4, with Reingle on the mound. She pitched only four innings, and gave up five runs and a uncharacteristic five walks as she suffered her first loss.

Reingle took another week off before trying to pitch again in an April 9 game against Siena, but again she wasn’t herself. She lasted only four innings again, giving up four runs (two earned), five hits and three walks in a 6-1 loss.

“You could tell she was in pain,” Horohonich said. “She gave it her best effort, but I told her we were not going to sacrifice her getting injured, so we decided to just shut her down for the rest of the season.”

Just like that, a season that had started so promising was suddenly over.

“Yea, I was actually pretty depressed not being able to play,” Reingle said. “But I’ve been able to go to all the games and watch. We’re still have a pretty good season.”

The Peahens came into this week with a 17-18-1 record, but one can only guess how much better a season it would have been had Reingle not gotten hurt.

“We were playing really well and had some nice quality wins down in Florida and Delaware,” Horohonich said. “This was really a big setback.

“We brought a lot of good players in this year,” he added. “We had a couple of kids from California, a kid from New York, and one of the top pitchers from Connecticut. So we had a nice recruiting class. But Tricia was one of our top recruits and she was doing real well. It’s a shame this setback occurred.”

But Reingle’s pitching isn’t the only thing the Peahens miss.

“When she wasn’t pitching, she played third base,” pointed out assistant coach Mike Pelegrino, who handles the infield. “She also played very good defense for us, and she was a good bat in our lineup. She usually batted in the fifth or sixth spot, so that was a big loss too.”

Reingle was 11-for-46 at the plate, a .239 average, with five doubles and seven RBIs.

“She’s just a good softball player,” Pelegrino added. “She has a great sense of the game.”

Reingle’s final pitching line read 51 innings pitched, 45 hits allowed, 25 runs, 20 earned, 47 strikeouts, 16 walks, a 6-2 record with six complete games, two shutouts, and a 2.75 ERA. Opponents hit only .226 off her.

And, of course, take away her last two outings when she pitched in pain, and her numbers were almost St. John Vianney-like.

All she can do now, however, is sit on the bench and root for her teammates.

“She’s in uniform every day and comes to every game,” Horohonich noted. “That’s just her. She’s a competitor. She loves to play, and I know it kills her to have to sit out and watch. That’s probably the hardest part. That probably hurts more than the back pain.”

“It’s distressing not to be out there and to know I can’t help the team,” Reingle said. “I don’t want to sit on the bench when I know I should be out there helping the team. I never went through anything like this before. I was fine all through high school.”

The good news is Tricia Reingle should be fine again, and soon. She won’t require any surgery either. Just rest.

“She’s working with our trainers and she should be good as new,” Horohonich said. “I’m sure she’ll be back with us during the fall season.”

Reingle hopes to be back even sooner.

“I’m working with the trainers at school, and I should be fine in about a month and a half,” she predicted. “I’m going to try to get back in shape in the summer. I’ll definitely throw with my father [Robert Reingle], and maybe I can end up playing with some team this summer.

“I know what I have to do to get better and come back pretty strong in the fall. I just want to get back on the mound and pitch.”