Oh and Masur have a great duel, with MSDA winning, 1-0; Who-Ray for IHA, Southpaw Seattle Slew (14 K’s) throws 10 shutout innings and Tim Tam drives in the winning runs; West Essex wins 11th straight, as Betley, Funny Cide and Estrada lead way

Kelsey Oh of Mount St. Dominic and Montclair’s Jessie Masur put on quite a pitching display at the Mount’s home field, in Caldwell, on April 28. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the seventh, when Mount St. Dominic’s Marissa Jenkins singled to lead off the inning, then picked up two more bases when the ball was mishandled in right field.

After Masur recorded her 10th strikeout, Annamarie Campanile lined a hard single to score Jenkins with the game’s only run, as Mount St. Dominic prevailed, 1-0.

Masur has been on quite a run recently, including a 20-strikeout performance against Bloomfield earlier this week. Maddux allowed just four hits against a good Lions team today.

As for Oh? It was a ho-hum 17 strikeouts and a one hitter. To call her a stud is the equivalent of saying it gets warm in July. In a game that could have gotten away from her, Oh worked out of mini jams in the sixth and seventh innings, when Mountclair had a runner in scoring position, with two outs.

Montclair’s number one fan, Ed Bates, was fired up throughout.

“Get it to the seventh inning,” implored Bates.

Montclair coach Phil Delgado was his usual glass half-full self afterward.

“Jessie gave us a great effort, again,” said Delgado of the pitcher he calls Maddux. She’s giving us double-digit strikeouts on a consistent basis. She’s pitched a lot this week. I asked Jessie after Wednesday’s game (with Nutley) if she wanted today off, and all she said was ‘give me the ball.’

“I’m really proud of what I saw out there today. We’re getting better by the day, Brother. Keep watching.”

In Wayne, Immaculate Heart extended its winning streak to 10 games, and avenged its only loss of the season, with a thrilling 2-0 win over DePaul.

IHA’s Olivia Sprofera (Southpaw Seattle Slew) continued her marvelous season with a third straight shutout against another quality opponent.

osOlivia Sprofera, Southpaw Seattle Slew, continued her dominance today.

Seattle.Slew_Sports_IllustratedThe ‘other’ Seattle Slew.

The Eagles improved to 11-1 on the season. The lone loss came in the second game of the season, at home to DePaul, 4-3. In that game Slew pitched great, striking out 13, but was hurt by two walks and a three-run homer in the fourth inning. This time, she was obviously even better, striking out 14 and walking one.

Senior first baseman Emilie Cieslak (the new Tim Tam) lined a two-run triple in the top of the 10th inning to secure the IHA victory. The Duke-bound Cieslak has been a constant at the plate for the Eagles all season long.

ttThe other Tim Tam.

“It was a huge win for us,” said IHA coach Diana Fasano.

A day after defeating No. 1 Mount St. Dominic, West Essex went on the road today, at Summit, and came away with an 8-0 win for its 11th straight victory. The Knights clung to a 1-0 lead through six innings before breaking the game open with seven runs in the seventh inning.

Bridget (over troubled waters) Betley was spectacular. She pitched a complete-game shutout, and helped her own cause with two hits and two RBI.

Alexa Vardiman (Funny Cide) came off the bench and was 2-for-2 and Alexa Estrada had three hits for coach Andrea Mondadori’s Knights.

It was career victory number 201 for Mondo.

 

 

 

 

 

By mike051893

Corino Softball Complex dedication everything it was meant to be, and a lot more…

In planning for the April 23 dedication of Clearman Field to be re-named the Corino Softball Complex at Clearman Field, there were obviously plenty of concerns, among the powers-that-be, mainly Jeanne Lombardi and Chris Cantarella.

The first, of course, was the weather. There was talk of a 30% chance of rain on Saturday morning, but it was supposed to be clear up by late morning. Okay, that’s fine. Clearman Field has been long known for its similarity to the Mojave Desert, in that it could pour two hours prior to a game, and the field would be completely dry by the first pitch.

The next was the turnout of fans, players and friends. There was no question that Carl Corino’s family would be on hand, big time, and the initial show of interest appeared to be good.

cc1Cheryl Marion was in rare form last Saturday…(On all photos, click on the picture to see a larger image. Photos courtesy of Facebook page, Belleville High School Softball Alumni)

But, you never know.

cc3Phil Cuzzi spoke of a friendship that has transcended a lifetime.

The morning began with an 11 a.m. game between Belleville and New Providence, in a varsity matchup. As the game progressed, the fans began to fill Clearman Field, and by 1 p.m., an hour before the dedication ceremony was scheduled to commence, the place was hopping. I was comparing the arriving crowd to a scene out of the Godfather, during Connie’s wedding. It was classic Belleville, NJ.

In a nice gesture, Caldwell coach Mike Teshkoyan and his brother, Mark, were in attendance. The Teshkoyans are the all time leaders in wins for high school softball in Essex County. But there was a time that Carl was the winningest coach, in state history. There was often a very intense battle between Caldwell and Belleville, especially in the 1980’s, but the respect shared between the coaches never wavered, and it was great seeing Mike and Mark there, to congratulate Carl.

cc2Carl Corino and the current Belleville High softball team.

And as the ceremony neared, the weather continued to break perfectly. Bright sunshine adored the field, so when varsity head coach Chris Cantarella began his introductions, the large contingent of former players, parents, family and friends was ready for a party.

cc4Carl, with family and friends, after the unveiling of the sign.

What they got was just that. Belleville Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Tomko, who was a driving force in the dedication being possible, spoke of Carl’s legacy.

cc5Carl with close friends at the dedication of the Corino Softball Complex at Clearman Field.

Former BHS softball coach Cheryl Marion Zenobi gave a beautiful speech. Phil Cuzzi, a long-time Major League Baseball umpire, spoke of his long-standing friendship with Carl, Jimmy and Mark Corino.

cc6Celebrating with friends at Roscommon House.

Memories of Carl’s parents, the late Jennie and James Corino, flooded the ceremony.

cc7I’ll always like this photo.

George Zanfini was remembered.

cc8Carl, his wife Eve (center) and Sweet Lou.

And then the crowd headed to the sidestreet, next to Clearman, to see the unveiling of the sign. The crowd cheered loudly, and finally Carl had his moment to say thank you.

cc9Alumni and friends had a great time.

He acknowledged that naming every person he saw that day would be impossible, but they were all in his heart.

cc10The smiles never stopped.

And Carl was right, because the turnout was INCREDIBLE….

cc11Great seeing so many former players at the event. And yes, that’s Lynne Giachetti, not Diane DiVincenzo (second from left !!! LOL)

And then there was an alumni game, with former BHS players being the first to play on the new Corino Softball Complex’s diamond.

cc12Great times at home plate.

Everyone had a good time. And the party moved to Michael’s Roscommon House, where everyone enjoyed a nice buffet of food and some drinks. A poignant video on Corino’s career, with great photos, brought the house down. That video was put together by Jeanne Lombardi.

cc13Memories of tremendous teams from the past.

The day was symbolic of what made Belleville a special place, and for one night, it was indeed, the center of all our universes.

cc14CHAMPIONS !!!

 

 

 

By mike051893

West Essex defeats Mount St. Dominic, 5-1, as Huetter, Betley, and Garofalo help deliver Mondo win No. 200; Cedar Grove wins first night game at The Pond, 6-3, as Marinelli has four hits; Pleasant Colony drives in 2 for Bloomfield

West Essex coach Andrea Mondadori has often said that any milestones in her career must be shared with assistant coach Jay Ahmed.

Mondo uses the phraise, ‘Jay and I’ when it comes to winning a game, whether it be a county, state sectional, conference or just a regular season game.

we2West Essex head coach Andrea Mondadori was emotional after her team presented her balloons and cupcakes following career win number 200. Her assistant, Jay Ahmed, stands behind the players, in hat. (Click on picture for a larger image).

So when West Essex won its biggest game of the season on April 27, defeating powerful Mount St. Dominic, 5-1, in North Caldwell, for its 10th straight win, there was some extra significance. The victory was the 200th in Mondadori’s career, and, as Mondo said afterward, “this is what Jay and I have accomplished. There’s no way I’m coaching today, if it wasn’t for him.”

West Essex’s only defeat had come in the second game of the season, when it built a 4-2 lead, at Mount St. Dominic, before the Lions rallied back to win, 6-4. This time, the game was scoreless into the bottom of the fifth, as a solid pitcher’s duel was underway with MSD’s Kelsey Oh and West Essex’s Sami Huetter.

Ironically, it was Huetter’s at-bat in the bottom of the fifth that ignited a West Essex rally. And Canonero II never got a chance to hit the ball. Instead, she was hit with a pitch, on the inside of her right knee.

we1West Essex was all smiles in celebrating Mondo’s 200th win. (Click on picture for a larger image).

“That stung,” said Huetter, with a smile after the game. “I guess I took one for the team. Kelsey threw a hard screw ball, inside, as I was trying to bunt. I would have done the same thing, throw inside on a bunt attempt. She threw a tight pitch, and I got hit. It happens. It’s part of the game.”

Huetter was in obvious pain, but was not about to exit the game. In the Essex County Tournament championship game last May against Mount St. Dominic, Huetter was hit by a line drive, on her leg, while pitching in the first inning. She was never the same, and West Essex ended up on the short end of an 18-1 score.

“No way,” she said today about leaving the game. “I told the trainers, coaches, whatever, I’m not coming out of this game.”

we4Click on the picture for a larger image.

Huetter’s teammates rallied behind her. The Knights would break that scoreless tie with five run in the fifth, including key run-scoring hits by Bridget Betley and Amanda Garofalo, along with Alexa Vardiman (Funny Cide) putting the ball in play and driving a run home.

When the smoke cleared, West Essex had a 5-0 lead heading into the sixth. Canonero II would retire the Lions in the sixth, then gave up a run in the seventh, before putting the game away.

It was the first time West Essex had defeated the Mount since April, 18, 2012, when the Knights won a 2-1 decision. also in North Caldwell.

West Essex and Mount St. Dominic could meet for a third time in the Essex County Tournament final. The Lions are the top seed while the Knights are seeded second.

Betley, a junior second baseman, felt good after her team’s win today.

bridgetNot too many troubled waters on this day, for Bridget Betley and the Knights, as Coaches Mondadori and Ahmed celebrated a milestone. (Click on the picture for a larger image).

“We felt that we could play with a team like Mount St. Dominic,” said (Bridge over Troubled Water) Betley. “We had hit the ball well the first time we played against Kelsey and this time, we got some key hits, and won. But it’s one game and we have to get ready to play again tomorrow (April 28, at Summit) and Friday (April 29, vs. Bloomfield).”

For a milestone career win, it was hard to top this victory for Mondadori, now 200-106 in her career. She had won her 100th game on April 22, 2010, at Nutley.

“We’ve had some tough games against the Mount,” said Mondo. “Our kids battled today and won a good game. It meant so much to be around the kids after the game. This was special.”

At Bloomfield, a new era began with the first night game at The Pond. Cedar Grove was the opponent, and the Panthers came away with a 6-3 victory.

Bloomfield coach Bob Mayer noted that the lights were installed late last summer and playing a night game at The Pond was a nice experience. A big crowd was on hand for the game.

Rianna Marinelli was 4-for-4, with a double and three runs scored to pace Cedar Grove (7-7).

“We’re starting to come around,” said Cedar Grove coach Nicole Velardi. “We young, we’ve made some mistakes, but the kids are working hard.”

Bloomfield’s Sam Corio (Pleasant Colony) hit a two-run triple. The Bengals fell to 6-9 on the season.

 

 

 

 

By mike051893

Essex Softball: Facts and figures to get you ready for the 39th Essex County Tournament

The 39th Essex County Softball Tournament will commence later this week, with play-in games. The ECT has become a very exciting tournament over the years. Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions by fans of the tourney, as well as 28 things you need to know about the tourney’s storied history.

1-How are the seeds decided?

Generally, a committee of Essex County coaches will vote on the seeds. The 2016 meeting was held on Tuesday, April 26, with coaches from the various divisions of the Super Essex Conference (SEC). All of the coaches were welcomed to comment on where they think their team should be seeded, but in the end, the committee makes the final choices.

2-Are there parameters in deciding a seed?

Good question. For the most part, there seemed to be a weighted respect toward the Super Essex Conference’s (SEC) American Division, which comprises the ‘stronger’ teams in the league. There is also credence toward teams that play a more rugged out-of-conference schedule.

The head-to-head matchups are always discussed and usually are a deciding factor in seedings. This year, Newark Academy was expected to get a top 5 seed in the tourney. Newark Academy plays in the SEC Liberty Division and has played well against all competition.

3-Did the committee get it right with the higher seeds?

For sure, the committee did its usual good job. The top 5 seeds (Mount St. Dominic, West Essex, Nutley, Livingston and Newark Academy) are the top 5 in FMTC rankings. (Not that it means anything, LOL). And if you look back at previous ECT’s, the seedings are usually pretty accurate. There have been quarterfinal upsets, in the past, (West Orange in 2010, Cedar Grove in 2014 come to mind right away), but when it comes to the championship game, there’s not a lot of mystery as to the finalists.

4-Will Mount St. Dominic be even tougher to beat this year?

The 2-time defending champs are the favorite, but unlike the past two seasons, maybe not overwhelming choices this season. The Mount is still the Mount, but West Essex and Nutley are improved from 2015. Like the dominant Livingston teams from 2012-2014 (the Lancers were 48-1 at one point against Essex opponents), The Mount knows the target is always there. A third straight final between Mount St. Dominic and Livingston in 2014 was derailed when Cedar Grove stunned Livingston in its final at-bat in the 2014 quarterfinals.

There’s no way head coach Lorenzo Sozio will allow the Lions to take this tourney lightly. Mount St. Dominic’s excellence in the ECT speaks for itself. The Lions have six county titles to its credit, and have won all of its championships since Sozio was named coach in 1996. The Mount has been to 13 finals, the most in tourney history, including the past five, and eight of the last nine. The Lions are second, all time, in tourney history with those six championships while Livingston is third, with five.

5-Will there be another Newark Academy-type run in 2016?

Hard to fathom that this year. There are some feisty teams out there,  but what Newark Academy did in 2012, by having to win a play-in contest, with a double-digit seed, then defeat defending champion Nutley in the first round and Caldwell in the quarters, will be tough to replicate this year.

The upsets do happen. Not many expected Greer Manton and West Orange to go into Mount St. Dominic in 2010 and defeat the two-time defending champions in the quarterfinals. Caldwell stunned West Essex by the 10-run rule in the 2014 quarters to make the semis, then gave Mount St. Dominic a good game in the semifinals. And, as mentioned, Cedar Grove defeated the two-time defending champions, Livingston, also in the 2014 quarters.

6-Will this year’s Final Four bring the fans some great memories?

The quality of the Final Four is certainly good every year, but there was something special about the 2011 semifinal between Livingston and Nutley. Livingston sophomore righthander Jess Peslak struck out 14 for Livingston, but Kristen Mattia hit a 3-run homer in the fifth inning for Nutley after Livingston had gained a 4-0 lead. The Lancers appeared to have it under control in the bottom of the seventh, especially after Peslak fanned Mattia for the second out, but Lauren Iradi hit a seeing-eye, two-out, two-run single as Nutley won, 5-4. A day later, it captured the county final over MSD, 3-0. (Peslak has often said it was one of the best games she ever played in, and she lost).

The 2013 semifinal between Cedar Grove and Mount St. Dominic was also a classic, as MSD’s Olivia Gemma hit an epic homer over the centerfield fence to lead the Lions past the Panthers after it appeared Cedar Grove had the game in hand.

ihp 5

Essex County’s Ivy Hill Park will host the ECT semifinals and finals for the 12th straight year.

And for pure recent drama, the 2012 and 2013 championship games between Mount St. Dominic and Livingston were as good as they got.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALivingston’s Jess Peslak had some tremendous encounters with coach Lorenzo Sozio’s Lions, including the 2012 and 2013 county finals.

7-Any better at Ivy Hill Park?

The recent refurbishing project at Ivy Hill Park should provide the fans a better view for the semifinals and finals. The field seems to be in much better condition, too. Personally, I’d love to go back to the days when all four quarterfinals were at Pulaski Park. That was fun softball, watching all four games, from the same venue, on the same day.

And there are still better softball parks in Essex County than Ivy Hill, but it’s always a nostalgic trip back there, for me, and since it will be there for the now foreseeable future, might as well not complain about it.

8-If form holds?

Should the favorites win, the semifinals at Ivy Hill will feature Mount St. Dominic against Livingston, or Newark Academy, while West Essex would play Nutley in a rematch of last year’s compelling game.

9-Bottom Line?

It’s a fun tournament, with some conversation and debate, but in the end, it’s for the kids to enjoy. Great job by the committee in seeding it so well again, in 2016.

10-West Essex-MSDA final?

Based on the seedings, it could be, with MSDA the top seed and West Essex seeded second. The teams met in mid April and Mount St. Dominic came away with an exciting come-from-behind win. West Essex defeated The Mount in the 2007 final and the Lions were unbeatable in last year’s title game, dominating the Knights.

Don’t count Nutley out, either. Entering this week, the third-seeded Raiders had lost two close games. Nutley can swing the bats and its pitcher, Emily Holden (Genuine Risk), has proven she enjoys the big settings.

FACTS AND FIGURES

This is the 39th ECT, so let’s look back at some facts and figures over the past 38 tourneys.

1-Caldwell won the first championship in 1978, defeating Bloomfield, 2-1. The Chiefs have the most championships with 10 and also boast the best record in championship games, 10-1.

2-Belleville appeared in nine county finals during the 1980s, winning three championships, including back-to-back titles in 1982 and ’83. Belleville made it to eight straight finals, a record which still holds, from 1982-89. The Buccaneers also won in 1989 and appeared in the 1998 and ’99 final. Belleville’s 12 appearances in the finals are second most, to Mount St. Dominic, which has been in 13 championship games.

3- Mount St. Dominic has won six titles, Livingston has five crowns and Cedar Grove has four championships.

4-Livingston pitcher Jess Peslak had three of the most dominant performances in the ECT semis in recent memory. In 2011, she struck out 14 and actually lost in the seventh inning to Nutley, 5-4. The following year, she fanned 17 in a 9-0 victory against West Essex and in 2013, she spun a five-inning, no-hitter as the Lancers defeated Bloomfield, 12-0.

Mount St. Dominic junior pitcher Kelsey Oh has two titles to her record, already, and could become the first four-time winning pitcher in the tourney’s history. Oh’s performances in the 2014 and 2015 finals were beyond dominant. Both of those title games went five innings, or less.

5-Mount St. Dominic’s second straight title last spring matched the 2008 and 2009 Lions for back-to-back titles. Livingston won consecutive crowns in 2012 and 2013.

6-Caldwell is the only team to three-peat as champions. (1986-88), with all three wins in the final against Belleville. The Mount will be favored this year to get the three-peat.

7-Livingston’s ‘Seattle Slew’, Kylie McLaughlin, hit a rare inside-the-park homer at Ivy Hill Park in the 2013 semifinal against Bloomfield. She led off the bottom of the first with a shot that hit the center field fence and bounced past a Bloomfield outfielder, as the speedy ‘stud’ rounded the bases.

8-Cedar Grove was the first team to repeat as champion, doing so in 1980. At that time, the Panthers were led by pitcher Laurel VanDer May, while its head coach was her brother, Ray, who returned to the helm of Cedar Grove in 2013 and led the ’14 Panthers back to the finals.

9-Cedar Grove (1979-80), Belleville (1982-83), Caldwell (1990-91 and again 2004-05), West Essex (1997-98),Bloomfield (1999-2000), Montclair Kimberley Academy (2001-2002), Mount St. Dominic (2008-09 and again in 2014-2015) and Livingston (2012-2013) are the schools which have won back-to-back titles.

10-Caldwell coach Mike Teshkoyan has the most championships with eight. Mount St. Dominic’s Lorenzo Sozio is second, with six titles.

11-Belleville-Caldwell (1986-88), Caldwell-Livingston (1990-91), Mount St. Dominic-Bloomfield (1995-96), Mount St. Dominic-Cedar Grove (2008-09) and Mount St. Dominic-Livingston (2012-2013) are the championship game matchups which occurred in consecutive years. Based on this year’s seeding, a West Essex-Mount St. Dominic contest could occur in a second straight final.

12-Cedar Grove’s crowns in 1984 and 2010 represent the longest gap between titles for a school in the tourney’s history.

13-Nutley waited 18 years between championships. (1993-2011).

14-Belleville’s Carl Corino coached in 12 county finals and led his team to the Final Four 16 times.

15-The highest scoring final occurred last year, with 19 runs scored. The second highest scoring final was in 1992, when Livingston and Bloomfield combined for 14 runs. Cedar Grove and Belleville collected 13 runs in the ’84 title game.

16-Only three of the first 38 championship games have gone into extra innings, with Belleville (1989), Mount St. Dominic (2003) and Caldwell (2005) all winning by 1-0 decisions. The 2003 game between Mount St. Dominic and Bloomfield went 11 innings, the longest final on record.

17-Caldwell had one of the most improbable wins, rallying from 2-0 down to stun Belleville, 3-2, in the 1987 final. Caldwell scored all three runs without a ball leaving the infield. The Chiefs had a similar rally in the 2004 county final opposite MKA, once again coming back from 2-0 down in the seventh. Both of those games were at Pulaski Park.

18-Luann Zullo is 3-0 as a head coach in the finals, and she’s the only coach to win crowns at two different schools. She won a pair of championships at West Essex (1997-98) before leading her alma mater, Nutley, to the 2011 championship. Ironically, her first championship in ’97 came against Nutley.

 

31658_393721811721_640661721_4603106_4600613_nWest Essex won the 1998 ECT final, beating Belleville, 1-0. Head coach Luann Zullo (second from far right) and assistant Sergio Rodriguez (second from far left) are shown here with the team.

19-Livingston coach Jason Daily is 3-0 in county finals.

20-MKA is the only team to beat Caldwell in a county final, doing so in 2002, 4-1, for its second straight title and last to date. Two years later, Caldwell turned the tables and beat MKA, 3-2.

21-Livingston and Belleville had quite a rivalry in the 1980s. The schools met three times in a county final (1982, ’85 and ’89), with Belleville winning twice. In 1982, Livingston rallied from 4-0 down to stun Belleville, 6-4, in a state sectional semifinal. Five days later, the two met again for the county championship and Belleville won, 8-0, for its first ECT crown. A generation later, the two met in the quarterfinals of the 2001 county tournament, with Belleville prevailing by the mercy rule. A few weeks later, the teams met in the state sectionals, with Belleville winning a close 3-1 contest, en route to a sectional championship. The following year, Livingston went to Belleville in a sectional semifinal, and won. Livingston’s current head coach, Jason Daily, was in his second year as head coach in 2002.

22-Newark Academy made it from the play-in round all the way to the ECT semis in 2012, the first school to accomplish that feat. It stunned second-seeded and defending champion Nutley in the first round, 6-4, then defeated Caldwell in the quarters before losing to Mount St. Dominic.

23-It’s not often that sisters play against each other in a county tournament, but it happened in the 2011 championship game when Nutley, led by Eileen Purcell, defeated Mount St. Dominic, 3-0. The Mount’s junior catcher that year was Jamie Purcell, Eileen’s twin sister. Both girls are now playing on the collegiate level, at different colleges.

24-From 1993-1997, the final score of the championship game was 2-1.

25-Mount St. Dominic’s four runs in the 2013 county final was the most by a team which didn’t win the title during this century.

26-Sammi Rothenberger (Livingston), Kristen Mattia (Nutley) and Mount St. Dominic’s Olivia Gemma hit three of the more memorable homers in Ivy Hill history, since the field became the venue for the finals in 2005. All three of those homers occurred in semifinal matchups.

27-The last two county finals have ended in the 10-run mercy rule being invoked.

28-Bloomfield coach Bob Mayer recently won his 500th career game. He’s just the third coach in Essex County history to reach that plateau. Caldwell’s Mike Teshkoyan is first, all time, in county history with well over 600. Carl Corino of Belleville, who is retired, was the first to reach 500, back in 2005. Corino recently was honored by having the ball park at Belleville named after him.

cc (2)The new field in Belleville honors former coach Carl Corino.

bm3Bob Mayer and his Bengals recently celebrated the legendary head coach’s 500th win. Mayer has had some great runs at the ECT, including back-to-back championships in 1999 and 2000.

 

By mike051893

Essex Softball: Montclair wins a thriller, as ‘Maddux’ Masur fans 20; MSDA Lions honor LaRezza; Latest FMTC Top 10; 2 new studs are added; Mayer wins 500th; ECT seedings coming soon

Montclair has been battling all season long, against a tough schedule, coming close, at times, but unable to finish the deal against a Super Essex Conference American Division opponent.

On April 25, the Mounties finally prevailed, defeating Bloomfield, 5-3, in 11 innings at The Pond, in Bloomfield. In what may have been one of the more exciting games in Essex County this year, Montclair jumped out to a 2-0 first inning lead, on a big two-out, two-run single by Francesca Testa, and appeared to be coasting behind the stellar pitching of junior righty Jessie ‘Maddux‘ Masur.

But has been the case in most of its closer losses, Montclair (3-10) had a bad inning, when Bloomfield rallied to tie it, and then threatened to break the game open, in the sixth inning. But this time, Montclair responded with a huge double play to end the rally, and from there, both teams played five more intense innings, including two frames under the international tiebreaker rule.

“We really needed that one,” said Montclair coach Phil Delgado. “Wow, that was a big step for this team. In that sixth inning, we were in big trouble, and a few weeks ago, we probably lose the game. But our kids stepped up.”

Masur was outstanding, striking out 20 in a complete game effort.

mazurJessie Mazur had a tremendous game for Montclair, against Bloomfield. (Click on the photo for a larger image).

“I call her Maddux because she paints the corners and has great movement on her ball,” said Delgado in comparing his pitcher to MLB Hall of Famer, Greg Maddux. “She had a good game last Friday against West Essex, but our defense let her down late in that game. Jessie really bore down today.”

Mazur didn’t even know the game had gone 11 innings.

“The scoreboard said nine innings (the numbers don’t go higher than nine), so I didn’t really think about it,” Maddux said with a laugh. “I just kept pitching.”

Bloomfield (6-8) got a solid pitching effort from starter Courtney Politz, before giving way to Samantha Corio, who had a tremendous all-around game. Corio had made a diving catch to stop one rally earlier in the game, then threw out a base runner attempting to score from third base, with a perfect peg to the plate.

Corio would pitch the next few innings, and was solid, working out of a few jams, before the Mounties broke through with three runs in the top of the 11th. Montclair took the lead on a wild throw to third base, then extended to a 4-2 advantage on a solo homer by Erica Robles. Mazur would add a key insurance run later in the frame, when she drilled an RBI single.

Montclair also got a big catch from Sofie Fachin in the 10th inning that saved the game.  The ball was hit between the shortstop and left field, and if Fachin doesn’t catch it, Bloomfield would have scored the game-winning run there.

For Bloomfield, third baseman Kim Zapata made two stellar catches to end a Montclair rally in the 10th inning.

“(Zapata) made some really good catches for Bloomfield,” said Delgado. “And Sam Corio is so good, it’s ridiciulous. She made some plays in the outfield that were hard to believe. Hey, I’m all about seeing good, quality softball and any team coached by (Bloomfield’s) Bob Mayer will always battle you. The guy has won over 500 games. That speaks for itself.”

Delgado’s enthusiasm can be infectious. Following the game, I got a text from someone quite familiar with Essex softball, who wrote “who wouldn’t want to play for him?”

Corio was disappointed afterward, but knew her team was right there.

“I didn’t hit the ball as well as I could have today,” said Corio, who will play at Kean University this fall. “(Masur) pitched me inside effectively, and I guess I didn’t adjust to that as well as I could have. Coach Delgado knows me pretty well, from summer ball. I’ll get back on track.”

The Mount St. Dominic Lions paid tribute to the late IHA coach, Anthony LaRezza, in its game on April 25. It was a very classy move by a first-class program.

msdThe No. 1 MSDA Lions paid tribute to the late Anthony LaRezza. (Click on photo for a larger image).

Seedings for the 39th Essex County Tournament are expected to be announced by April 26, or 27. Two-time defending champion Mount St. Dominic should be the top seed, but a committee will decide the matchups.

Here is the FMTC updated Top 10.

1-Mount St. Dominic (12-1): The Lions keep rolling, including a tremendous weekend in Ohio, where it won a pair of games in a national showcase.

2-West Essex (10-1): The Knights have a nine-game winning streak and will have a huge matchup with Mount St. Dominic on April 27, in North Caldwell.

3-Nutley (10-2): Senior pitcher Emily Holden (Genuine Risk) continues to throw the ball well for the Raiders, including wins over Jackson Liberty and Livingston.

4-Livingston (6-7): The Big Green Machine had a pair of wins last week and will be a factor in the upcoming county tournament.

5-Newark Academy (7-3): The Minutemen won three straight last week, all by double digits.

6-Cedar Grove (6-7): The Panthers are young, but head coach Nicole Velardi feels the team is starting to find a rhythm.

7-Caldwell (10-1): The team with the most championships in the history of the ECT has been very consistent this year.

8-Bloomfield (6-8): Bengals presented head coach Bob Mayer his 500th career victory last weekend.

bm3Bob Mayer won his 500th career game last weekend, in Clifton. He’s just the third coach in Essex County history to attain that mark. (Click on the photo for a larger image).

9-Verona (6-6): The Hillbillies lost a close game to arch rival Cedar Grove, 7-4, and could be a tough out in the ECT.

10-Millburn (13-0):  The Millers continue to remain unbeaten, including a win over Columbia. It will be interesting to see where it is seeded for the counties.

The latest stud watch…Two new additions this week.

Sami Huetter, Canonero II

Sydney McCormack, Syd The Kid

Sophie Rosenberg, Arts and Letters

Alexa Vardiman, Funny Cide

Emily Holden, Genuine Risk

Sam Corio, Pleasant Colony

Out of Network:

Olivia Sprofera, Southpaw Slew

Reese Guevarra, Sunday Silence

Emilie Cieslak, Tim Tam

By mike051893

Essex Softball: Montclair wins a thriller, as ‘Maddux’ Masur fans 20; MSDA Lions honor LaRezza; Latest FMTC Top 10; 2 new studs are added; Mayer wins 500th; ECT seedings coming soon

Montclair has been battling all season long, against a tough schedule, coming close, at times, but unable to finish the deal against a Super Essex Conference American Division opponent.

On April 25, the Mounties finally prevailed, defeating Bloomfield, 5-3, in 11 innings at The Pond, in Bloomfield. In what may have been one of the more exciting games in Essex County this year, Montclair jumped out to a 2-0 first inning lead, on a big two-out, two-run single by Francesca Testa, and appeared to be coasting behind the stellar pitching of junior righty Jessie ‘Maddux‘ Masur.

But has been the case in most of its closer losses, Montclair (3-10) had a bad inning, when Bloomfield rallied to tie it, and then threatened to break the game open, in the sixth inning. But this time, Montclair responded with a huge double play to end the rally, and from there, both teams played five more intense innings, including two frames under the international tiebreaker rule.

“We really needed that one,” said Montclair coach Phil Delgado. “Wow, that was a big step for this team. In that sixth inning, we were in big trouble, and a few weeks ago, we probably lose the game. But our kids stepped up.”

Masur was outstanding, striking out 20 in a complete game effort.

mazurJessie Mazur had a tremendous game for Montclair, against Bloomfield. (Click on the photo for a larger image).

“I call her Maddux because she paints the corners and has great movement on her ball,” said Delgado in comparing his pitcher to MLB Hall of Famer, Greg Maddux. “She had a good game last Friday against West Essex, but our defense let her down late in that game. Jessie really bore down today.”

Mazur didn’t even know the game had gone 11 innings.

“The scoreboard said nine innings (the numbers don’t go higher than nine), so I didn’t really think about it,” Maddux said with a laugh. “I just kept pitching.”

Bloomfield (6-8) got a solid pitching effort from starter Courtney Politz, before giving way to Samantha Corio, who had a tremendous all-around game. Corio had made a diving catch to stop one rally earlier in the game, then threw out a base runner attempting to score from third base, with a perfect peg to the plate.

Corio would pitch the next few innings, and was solid, working out of a few jams, before the Mounties broke through with three runs in the top of the 11th. Montclair took the lead on a wild throw to third base, then extended to a 4-2 advantage on a solo homer by Erica Robles. Mazur would add a key insurance run later in the frame, when she drilled an RBI single.

Montclair also got a big catch from Sofie Fachin in the 10th inning that saved the game.  The ball was hit between the shortstop and left field, and if Fachin doesn’t catch it, Bloomfield would have scored the game-winning run there.

For Bloomfield, third baseman Kim Zapata made two stellar catches to end a Montclair rally in the 10th inning.

“(Zapata) made some really good catches for Bloomfield,” said Delgado. “And Sam Corio is so good, it’s ridiciulous. She made some plays in the outfield that were hard to believe. Hey, I’m all about seeing good, quality softball and any team coached by (Bloomfield’s) Bob Mayer will always battle you. The guy has won over 500 games. That speaks for itself.”

Delgado’s enthusiasm can be infectious. Following the game, I got a text from someone quite familiar with Essex softball, who wrote “who wouldn’t want to play for him?”

Corio was disappointed afterward, but knew her team was right there.

“I didn’t hit the ball as well as I could have today,” said Corio, who will play at Kean University this fall. “(Masur) pitched me inside effectively, and I guess I didn’t adjust to that as well as I could have. Coach Delgado knows me pretty well, from summer ball. I’ll get back on track.”

The Mount St. Dominic Lions paid tribute to the late IHA coach, Anthony LaRezza, in its game on April 25. It was a very classy move by a first-class program.

msdThe No. 1 MSDA Lions paid tribute to the late Anthony LaRezza. (Click on photo for a larger image).

Seedings for the 39th Essex County Tournament are expected to be announced by April 26, or 27. Two-time defending champion Mount St. Dominic should be the top seed, but a committee will decide the matchups.

Here is the FMTC updated Top 10.

1-Mount St. Dominic (12-1): The Lions keep rolling, including a tremendous weekend in Ohio, where it won a pair of games in a national showcase.

2-West Essex (10-1): The Knights have a nine-game winning streak and will have a huge matchup with Mount St. Dominic on April 27, in North Caldwell.

3-Nutley (10-2): Senior pitcher Emily Holden (Genuine Risk) continues to throw the ball well for the Raiders, including wins over Jackson Liberty and Livingston.

4-Livingston (6-7): The Big Green Machine had a pair of wins last week and will be a factor in the upcoming county tournament.

5-Newark Academy (7-3): The Minutemen won three straight last week, all by double digits.

6-Cedar Grove (6-7): The Panthers are young, but head coach Nicole Velardi feels the team is starting to find a rhythm.

7-Caldwell (10-1): The team with the most championships in the history of the ECT has been very consistent this year.

8-Bloomfield (6-8): Bengals presented head coach Bob Mayer his 500th career victory last weekend.

bm3Bob Mayer won his 500th career game last weekend, in Clifton. He’s just the third coach in Essex County history to attain that mark. (Click on the photo for a larger image).

9-Verona (6-6): The Hillbillies lost a close game to arch rival Cedar Grove, 7-4, and could be a tough out in the ECT.

10-Millburn (13-0):  The Millers continue to remain unbeaten, including a win over Columbia. It will be interesting to see where it is seeded for the counties.

The latest stud watch…Two new additions this week.

Sami Huetter, Canonero II

Sydney McCormack, Syd The Kid

Sophie Rosenberg, Arts and Letters

Alexa Vardiman, Funny Cide

Emily Holden, Genuine Risk

Sam Corio, Pleasant Colony

Out of Network:

Olivia Sprofera, Southpaw Slew

Reese Guevarra, Sunday Silence

Emilie Cieslak, Tim Tam

 

By mike051893

Who-Ray for IHA, Eagles conclude big week with a 5-0 win over Butler, as Sunday Silence, Kenerson and Slew lead way

Immaculate Heart has been on a nice run the past few weeks, and the Eagles continued that trend on April 24 with a 5-0 win over Butler, at a tournament, in Saddle Brook.

The Saddle Brook ball park had become the site of some not-so-good memories for IHA, including a loss to Butler, last year, at the same tournament, and a defeat at the hands of Indian Hills in the final at-bat of a classic Bergen County final, in 2014.

This time, behind the pitching of Olivia Sprofera (Southpaw Seattle Slew), the tireless effort on the base paths of Reese Guevarra (Sunday Silence) and some incredible defensive plays from senior shortstop Taylor Kenerson, IHA avenged last year’s loss to Butler.

“We wanted the chance to play Butler again, especially after last year,” said IHA coach Diana Fasano. “Butler has a tremendous team. We had a big week, playing Old Tappan, Indian Hills and now Butler, and came away with three nice wins. Olivia has been pitching great, we’re getting timely hitting and our defense is solid. As a team, we’re getting there.”

IHA (10-1) scored twice in the first inning, as Guevarra’s aggressive running led to a throwing error which scored Sunday Silence and Kenerson.

“Getting on the board quickly was good for us,” said Fasano. “Olivia was able to just throw strikes, get ahead in the count and let the defense do its thing.”

Guevarra was 3-for-3, including a triple that featured a sparkling slide into third, as Fasano encouraged her to take the extra base. Guevarra also stole three bases.

Guevarra’s triple also plated (former president) Reagan Jones, who had singled and stole second base. Jones, a junior third baseman, is deceptively quick. In one at-bat, on a routine grounder to short, Jones, batting right-handed, nearly beat the throw to first.

On defense, Kenerson was tremendous, including an excellent play in the sixth inning. Playing practically on the grass at short, Kenerson, who will play at Misericordia University this fall, fielded a sharp grounder, as a Butler baserunner scooted by, then made a marvelous throw to first to retire the base runner, and end the inning.

kenTaylor Kenerson, here with her dad, Kevin, had a tremendous game as IHA defeated Butler, 5-0, on April 24, in Saddle Brook.

And Sprofera put the capper on the game, and the week, with another outstanding effort. Southpaw Slew struck out seven and walked one. She got out of a bases loaded jam in the fourth inning, and ended up scattering just two hits.

(Sprofera’s mom, Sevan, who lives and dies with each pitch, admitted that one inning was a little nerve-wracking).

In three games this week, against quality opponents, Olivia, a junior lefty, gave up one earned run, struck out 31 and gave up a grand total of six hits, in 21 innings of work.

osOlivia Sprofera continues to dazzle. She led IHA to the state championship in 2015, including a shutout in the title game, and has been marvelous so far in 2016.

“We knew this would be a big week, and I liked the way we responded,” said Fasano. “We’ll have three games in three days later this coming week (against DePaul, Holy Angels and Saddle Brook, starting on April 28), and we want to continue to get better.”

 

 

By mike051893

500th win for Bloomfield Coach Bob Mayer a testimony to his love of the game and diligence in teaching it correctly

Bob Mayer’s enthusiasm level as he neared an incredible milestone of 500 career wins as Bloomfield High’s softball coach was the equivalent of preparing for a root canal.

As proud as Mayer has been of coaching student-athletes, he never wanted the victory total to be about himself.

“I just want to get it over with,” Mayer had said on numerous occasions, as the number inched higher.

Nevertheless, as Bloomfield defeated Memorial of West New York, 12-3, for win number 500 on April 23, at Clifton’s Main Memorial Park, Mayer admitted he got a little emotional, in seeing the fans’ reaction.

“It was especially nice to see some former players there,” said Mayer. “There were kids there who had played earlier in the day, then traveled a good deal to get here in time to see our game. That’s really special. And the fans were great, and, of course, the kids are the kids. They’re wonderful.”

Mayer is the third coach in the history of Essex County to reach 500 wins, joining Belleville’s Carl Corino, who was the first to do it, in 2005, and is since retired, and Mike Teshkoyan, who is still active and has won over 600 as Caldwell’s head coach.

Ironically, Mayer earned his 500th on the same day the Belleville community honored Corino, by naming its softball field in the coach’s name. A large contingent of fans were on hand, as Clearman Field was re-named The Corino Softball Complex at Clearman Field.

Mayer and Corino have remained friends since the days the Bengals and Bucs played each other. Mayer actually reached out during his game today, asking how the Corino dedication went, and Corino was very happy to hear that Mayer had reached his milestone, when informed at a post-dedication party.

“Bob Mayer is as classy as they come,” said Corino. “He deserves all the accolades. What a great coach and even better man. I hope to see him at one of his games, soon.”

The Bengal players were really excited about the accolade. The team presented Mayer with three balloons, symbolic of the numbers 5-0-0, as well as a special plaque and the obligatory cupcakes.

bm3

Senior pitcher Courtney Politz threw a complete game, and afterward admitted it was special to be in the circle for win 500. In the second game, she paced her team’s offense, with three hits, including a double, and a run scored.

bm2

“Pretty nice,” said Politz of being the winning pitcher in Mayer’s 500th win.  “It means a lot.”

Newark Academy coach Serg Rodriguez was also on hand to see the milestone win. Rodriguez, like most of the coaches in Essex County, has a great deal of respect and fondness for Mayer.

Bloomfield’s offense was led by senior centerfielder Sam Corio, who had four hits while Politz had three and Kim Zapata and Ayaria Andrade-Zygmunt had two hits each.

Corio then started the second game, against the Clifton Mustangs, at Main Memorial Park, as the team’s pitcher, and threw a complete game. She also had two more hits. Jalia Santos also had two hits, including a mammoth homer in the second inning.

Bloomfield won that game, too, 6-3, and improved to 6-7 on the season, as Mayer won game number 501.

scSam Corio is a versatile player for the Bengals. She pitched a complete game in a 6-3 victory over Clifton, striking out six and walking three.

 

 

 

By mike051893

James stars as West Essex holds off stubborn ‘Maddux’ and Montclair, 7-3; Bloomfield’s Mayer close to 500th victory

Lilly James of West Essex had just made a stellar play at third base in an April 22 game against Montclair. The first person to congratulate her was….the Montclair head coach, Phil Delgado, who was coaching at third.

After James made a nice stab of a hard grounder and threw the runner out, a bewildered Delgado could only express appreciation for a well-played ball.

“Lily James is a stud,” said Delgado afterward. “She’s the best third baseman I’ve seen this year.”

James’ defense was key, as West Essex needed an all-around game to defeat Montclair, 7-3, in Montclair, on the Mounties’ normal JV field, on Grove Street, that was actually a really good place to watch a game.

West Essex coach Andrea Mondadori has been touting James’ prowess at the hot corner all season long.

lilyLilly James (right) and Sami Huetter led the Knights to its 10th win of the season, and ninth straight victory, against Montclair on April 22.

“She’s the real deal,” said Mondadori of the sophomore. “She made a play the other day that was incredible. Her instincts are special. She sees things out there and makes things happen.”

James came up with at least four outstanding plays at third against Montclair. She has helped make West Essex one of the best infield defenses in the county, along with shortstop Julia Vardiman, second baseman Bridget Betley, first baseman Kate Jencarelli and catcher Alexa Vardiman (Funny Cide).

West Essex’s Sami Huetter (Canonero II) and Jessie ‘Maddux’ Mazur of Montclair had a good pitcher’s duel going on for the first four innings. The only run came when Montclair’s Erica Robles hit one of the longer homers of the season, in Essex County, in the bottom of the fourth inning. The centerfield fence at Montclair measured 217 feet in center, and the ball must have traveled nearly 260 feet, maybe longer, and went into the trees.

“There was a stewardess on that flight,” said Delgado. “Seriously, it was a nice, shot, because it came off a great pitcher, in Sami. Even Sami was laughing about it afterward. It’s part of the game. Sometimes you give up a homer.”

To Huetter’s credit, she was all smiles about it, too. “I don’t think that ball came down yet,” she said. “I threw a double change-up, and it didn’t change much. It happens. Just get the next batter out.”

Huetter’s teammate, the incomparable junior second baseman, Betley, put it best.

“Two seconds,” Betley said after the game. “You get to be mad for two seconds, and then move on.”

West Essex (10-1), which won its ninth straight game, rallied for six runs in the fifth inning, five of which were unearned against Mazur, who was outstanding, but got hurt with a few fielding errors.

“She pitched a really good game against us,” said Mondadori of Mazur. “She throws strikes, hits the corners really well, and the movement on her ball is tremendous. That’s a really good pitcher.

Delgado agreed.

“Jessie was great,” said Delgado. “She’s supposed to get out of the fifth inning with probably no runs allowed, maybe one, and instead, we’re down 6-1. It’s been that kind of season. We were 1-1 with Mount St. Dominic in the sixth (earlier in the week) and then we’re down, 9-1. (On April 21) we played Paramus Catholic and lost, 5-1. We gave up all five runs in one inning.

“But you know what? We’re getting better. We’re really young, and we’re learning that when you play teams the quality of what we’re seeing regularly, you can’t make mistakes and hope to get away with it. These teams make you pay. And that’s how you get better.”

For West Essex, it wasn’t their most effective all-around game, but it was a victory nevertheless. The Knights will have a short turnaround, and play arch rival Caldwell on Saturday morning, at 10 a.m.

“Caldwell is always a big game for our kids,” said Mondadori. “They all know each other. It should be an exciting game.”

April 23 should also be a big day for the Bloomfield Bengals. Head coach Bob Mayer has 499 career wins and has a good chance to become just the eighth coach in state history, and third in Essex County, to reach the 500 milestone. Bloomfield plays a pair of games on Saturday afternoon, the first against Memorial of West New York and the second opposite Clifton.

Mayer has been low keyed about the milestone, but appreciates its significance.

bloom

“I know it’s something special,” Mayer said after win number 499 against Wayne Valley. “Honestly, I can’t wait for it (the 500) to be over, so we can just concentrate on winning games.”

BvdN3VZIEAA4jYh.jpg largeBloomfield coach Bob Mayer (right), here in a light moment with Newark Academy coach Serg Rodriguez, is one of the most well-liked coaches in Essex County.

Bloomfield athletic director Steve Jenkins noted that Mayer’s work with student-athletes speaks for itself.

“Coach Mayer is as unassuming an individual as you will ever find,”said Jenkins in a statement. “But his impact on the athletes and students of Bloomfield stretches across generations.”

The Bloomfield players are also excited to get the win for Mayer.

“We know it’s a big deal,” said senior Sam Corio. “Only seven others have done it. That’s pretty nice.”

 

 

By mike051893

Corio stud-like in circle; Collins, Ramirez have 3 hits each, as Bloomfield stops Wayne Valley, 9-3

Bloomfield coach Bob Mayer feels his team is starting to come around, after a slow start.

Then again, Mayer also noted that the ‘slow start’ came against the likes of Mount St. Dominic, Nutley (twice), Livingston (twice) and West Essex.

Mayer saw his team hit the ball well on April 21, as the Bengals spotted Wayne Valley three early runs, then stormed back to prevail, 9-3, behind a tremendous pitching performance by senior Samantha Corio, and the hot bats of Christina Collins and Rachelle Ramirez.

“We can’t make excuses about our schedule, because I think it will make us better as the season goes on,” said Mayer, noting his team plays in the rugged Super Essex Conference, American Division. “We’re starting to play better, but we still need to work on base running and overall defense. But this was a good win today.”

Mayer made a quick pitching change with two outs in the second inning, moving Corio from her regular centerfield position to pitcher. Corio, who has a tremendous throwing arm, enjoys pitching, as well.

“Coach did say I would probably pitch, but I figured it would be later in the game,” said Corio. “But when I got called in, I knew I had to throw well.”

When Corio entered, the Bengals were down 3-0 and Wayne Valley had runners on base. Corio retired the last batter in the second, and went on to pitch 5 1/3 innings of outstanding ball, striking out four and walking one while scattering three hits.

“Sam came up big for us,” said Mayer. “If we fall behind 5 or 6-0 at that point, it’s a long haul back.”

Corio also worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning. The senior will be attending Kean University this fall, and hopes to continue playing on the collegiate level.

corioBloomfield’s Samantha Corio is the team’s offensive leader, as well as a tremendous outfielder and pitcher. (Photo courtesy of Joe DiFranco)

Bloomfield’s starting pitcher, Courtney Politz, had taken a line drive off her hip in Bloomfield’s last game, on April 19, at Livingston, on the final pitch of that game. Politz left with a large ice pack on her side, but appeared ready today.

“She struggled a little bit with her control,” said Mayer. “Courtney took quite a pop on that hip, but she’ll be okay. She’s a big part of our team.”

Ramirez and Collins’ contributions also encouraged Mayer.

“They bat 8 and 9 in our lineup, so it was good to get that kind of production from them,” said Mayer.

Shortstop Jalia Santos also made a big play, on defense, by snaring a line drive that seemed to be headed into the gap. And Bloomfield catcher Kasey Coury continues to play well defensively, and has a good arm behind the plate.

Bloomfield will play a pair of games at a tournament, in Clifton, on Saturday, then has conference games coming up with Montclair and Cedar Grove next week.

“They’re all big games for us,” the coach said. “We don’t take anything for granted. But if we can get this kind of effort, we’ll be okay.”

By mike051893