It’s only mid April, but the races in the Super Essex Conference are heating up, big time.
The latest FMTC Top 10 for Essex County doesn’t have a lot of changes, but it’s clear the chase for conference titles and the eventual seeding for next month’s Essex County Tournament will be interesting.
No question that Livingston remains No.1 in the poll. The Lancers won four straight from April 5-10, including a 9-2 win over No. 2 Mount St. Dominic on April 8. Livingston dropped a pair of games at the Mount St. Dominic Tournament on April 14, falling 5-2 to the state’s top ranked team in Immaculate Heart Academy, then losing a 2-0 decision later in the day to Caravel Academy of Delaware.
Livingston pitcher Jess Peslak rebounded from a rare off start in the IHA game to pitch five sterling innings opposite powerful Caravel. Peslak appears to be coming back from a pair of strained hamstrings and should benefit from warmer weather this week to get back in a groove.
IHA coach Anthony LaRezza was pleased with his team’s win over Livingston.
“Livingston has a great team,” LaRezza said. “We took advantage of our opportunities and found a way to win. They made some big plays, too. Their shortstop (Sammi Rothenberger) is the real deal. It looked like Jess was struggling a little early on, but she’s still a tremendous competitor. We’re very happy with the win, for sure.”
West Essex had a tremendous weekend, winning two games at the Chatham Tournament on April 13, then winning Mondo Bowl IX the following day as coach Andrea Mondadori’s Knights stopped St. Mary (Ruth), 13-2, which is coached by Andrea’s dad, Steve. The Mondadori’s play each other every season in a charity game.
The Super Essex Conference has some intriguing games on April 15.
Mount St. Dominic at Nutley: The Raiders (5-2) have played very well all season, with both setbacks (to Livingston and Gov. Livingston) by one run each. It won’t be difficult to get them fired up for this American Division game opposite Mount St. Dominic, which had an impressive win over Pequannock at its tournament on Sunday.
Newark Academy at Belleville: A key Liberty Division showdown at legendary Clearman Field has both teams in prime form for a conference win.
Glen Ridge at Montclair Kimberley: Glen Ridge (5-0) could be a sleeping giant and this road game at pesky MKA (4-1) will be interesting.
Speaking of West Essex, it will get another shot at Livingston on April 17, as the SEC begins its second round of matchups within the conferences. Livingston won in the season opener on April 1, 8-1, in North Caldwell.
Here are this week’s rankings, with games through April 14.
2-Mount St. Dominic (7-2)
4-West Essex (5-4)
5-Cedar Grove (4-3)
7-Glen Ridge (5-0)
10-Montclair Kimberley (4-1)