On many occasions so far this season, the Vernon High School softball program has been faced with an opponent that had substantial credentials. Each and every time, the Vikings stood up to the plate, both literally and figuratively, and played with determination.Through 16 games, the Vikings had an overall record of 14-2 and they stood atop the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Freedom Division with a mark of 8-1.Helping guide Vernon this spring are the senior team captains Natalie Alheidt and Emma Cahill.“I pick the captains when they are usually seniors, and it’s not a rite of passage but it is to learn the system and to pass on what is to be respected at the next level for the new athletes," Vernon head coach Kerry Ludeking said. “They are chosen to remind the others to keep respect, trust and open communication going at this program. I want them to be strong leaders and not just use the idea of a captain to be a boss, yet instead a leader. They must have good skills in decisions and judgment.“They teach their teammates skills not just in softball, but also in life. These two captains are humble and they bring that to the others. As they say, ‘we win and lose as a family, and we do it with class’. Emma is now a three time captain as a senior in three different sports for our school (field hockey, ski team, softball). Natalie is two-time captain (volleyball and softball), who is working behind the plate this year after the middle infield and broke the school record for career home runs (12) and is batting a strong .415 at this time." Most notably, both captains are leaders in the classroom.“Both student athletes are strong students and have been accepted to several Universities," Ludeking said. “They show their strength academically in the grades maintaining over a 3.4 (GPA) and the work structure they both present on the field is also in the classroom.The Vikings defeated NJAC Freedom Division opponent Newton, 9-0, on May 6. “This season has been a season of great softball," Ludeking said. “There are so many new and exciting names that have showed areas of amazement and even promise. This team has learned to become a strong family of softball players putting it all together and making their own mark on this 2019 season.“We have had amazing pitching coming from Victoria Grifone, hits from Olivia Vizzini and Kaitlyn Buurman. Olivia Amorosi is consistent at bat while scrambling all over the base paths. The outfield strengthened their area with Larissa Trongone and freshman Natalie Hasert. The infield opened up eyes with a stellar performance at first with Julie Vervaet and second base of Arianna DiMartino and Lydia Alheidt."NOTES: The individual statistics mentioned above were from games played through April.