While West Essex was hit by a buzzsaw called Livingston in its season opener at home on April 1, don’t discount Andrea Mondadori’s young team.
Livingston, the defending SEC and Essex County champions, scored four runs in the first, then added four more in the third for a fast 8-0 lead. That was more than enough for the Lancers and All State pitcher Jess Peslak, who pitched a complete game in chilly surroundings, striking out 11, walking three while scattering three hits in an 8-1 victory.
But West Essex showed plenty of gumption when it could have taken a five inning, mercy rule defeat. Starting pitcher Jenny Shaw pitched four shutout innings after the third and the Knights’ offense, which struck out six straight times to start the game, showed some life against Peslak, who I consider the best pitcher in the state.
“We just had too big a mountain to climb,” Mondadori said afterward. “They’re (Livingston) good, we all know that. But I liked the way our kids stayed in there. They were loose and took some night swings and played hard.”
Livingston coach Jason Daily wasn’t surprised by West Essex’s determination.
“Andrea always has that team ready to play,” said Daily, who has had more than his share of match ups against his good friend over the years. “They’re going to be tough, no question.”
Mondadori watched her young team struggle early on against Livingston.
“We’ve got kids with varsity experience, but we’re still a very young team,” Mondadori said. ”
Senior Shannon McGlynn had two hits off Peslak, including a run-scoring double.
“Shannon was able to make contact against Peslak last year, so we definitely wanted her in the lineup today,” Mondadori said.
Kelly Cousoulis came off the bench to collect her team’s first hit of the game. Kimmy Shaw and Jacqueline Schwartz played well for the Knights, which will start Courtney Mensch in its next game on Wednesday against Montclair.
Meanwhile Livingston returns home on Wednesday to take on Cedar Grove, which won its season opener on Monday against West Orange, 9-7. Mount St. Dominic also won its opener, defeating Montclair, 13-1.
Just another day in the crazy SEC American Division.