As the first week of the softball season concludes in the Super Essex Conference, what have we learned?
Cedar Grove has pulled off the surprise, thus far, defeating Livingston, 3-0 and taking a 2-0 mark into its game with nemesis West Essex today.
Nutley and Mount St. Dominic are also 2-0. Contrarily, West Essex is off to an 0-2 start, having lost to surprising Montclair on Wednesday while West Orange and Caldwell have also stumbled out at 0-2.
Friday’s games will be telling. Will the infamous triangle continue at Cedar Grove? Does the popcorn flow freely at Nutley? Will MSD be challenged, yet? And does Caldwell get off the snide? Let’s take a quick look at the four SEC American Division games. (And yes, there are other divisions within the league, and they’ll get plenty of looks during the season. I promise.)
Livingston at Nutley: Do the Lancers (1-1) come in a little ticked off after that setback, at home, to Cedar Grove the other day? It’s probably just business as usual for Livingston, which won’t really be affected too much by an early April loss. More importantly, Nutley (2-0) has played well in wins over Caldwell and West Orange, but coach Luann Zullo knows the level of competition will be amped up a bit today. Some of her young players have never seen Livingston pitcher Jess Peslak before, so the first time around in the lineup could be daunting. Question is, does Livingston get an early lead, then coast? Or does feisty Nutley hang in for a few innings, then find a way to steal one?
Mount St. Dominic at West Orange: Who knows? The Mount (2-0) has won its first two games rather impressively, even though it trailed Caldwell early on Wednesday before running away with it later on. On April 8, the Mount will take on Livingston in what many think is a preview to a second straight county championship game, but it’s way too early to start talking about the ECT. In the meantime, MSD and Livingston have games this weekend at IHA’s outstanding tournament to deal with, as well. West Orange has struggled with a new coach, losing a close game with Cedar Grove on April 1 before a one-sided setback against Nutley. You have to think West Orange (0-2) will play well today in what should be a nice weather event, for once.
West Essex at Cedar Grove: Oh, that triangle. West Essex (0-2) has had Cedar Grove’s (2-0) number in the past. Nutley has dominated West Essex, but can’t buy a win over Cedar Grove. Confused? Join the club. Cedar Grove has a new coaching staff, and of course the Panthers are fired up after beating Livingston on Wednesday. West Essex played hard in its loss to Livingston, but looked almost disinterested in a home game on Wednesday against Montclair. 2-0 vs. 0-2? It’s got a West Essex road win in bold letters, doesn’t it? Oh well, we’ll see.
Caldwell at Montclair: The Mounties took it to West Essex on Wednesday while Caldwell lost its first two to Nutley and the Mount. Caldwell will always battle you. Their infield is talented and the pitching keeps them in games. Montclair will go as far as Deja Davis will take them.