With the seedings for the 36th Essex County Tournament to be announced this coming Tuesday, Nutley and Bloomfield made their annual trek to the Linden Tournament for a day of softball against a pair of Union County opponents.
Both Essex schools prevailed, defeating their counterparts from Elizabeth and Linden on a day with Play for a Cure theme, focusing on breast cancer. (Thanks to Nutley assistant coach Mike DiPiano for the photos !)
Nutley coach Luann Zullo has long enjoyed this tournament, which she feels gives her team a few games to have fun and get away from the grind of a conference schedule.
“You see the schedule we play,” Zullo said of the Super Essex Conference’s American Division. “Every game is crazy in our league. I enjoy coming here. The people at the Linden Tournament are great to us every year. They treat our kids very well and it’s a fun day of playing softball. I don’t have to make excuses for our schedule, so if we play two games against some good kids who play hard, that’s what competing is all about.”
At first glance, Nutley (9-3) appears a solid pick for the third seed in the upcoming ECT, but the human element of coaches choosing seeds always makes for interesting debate. Nutley will take on Verona on Monday for its final game before the seeds are announced.
Bloomfield (8-1) has played well all season, with its only setback coming last Sunday at the Mount St. Dominic Tournament when it lost a 6-5 contest to Raritan after holding a 5-1 lead in the fifth inning. There are some who feel Bloomfield could garner a seed from third to sixth, but Bloomfield has two key games prior to the seeding meeting.
Bob Mayer’s Bengals were slated to face Livingston, the probable top seed in the ECT, on April 22, then take on Glen Ridge on the 23rd in a game that will count toward seedings.
“We have some big games coming up,” Mayer said. “Livingston will obviously be a huge test and Glen Ridge is playing really well, too. If we do well in those games, I’d like to think we’d get a pretty good seed. We’ll see.”
The FMTC rankings will come out on Sunday night, with a look at the possible seedings on Tuesday. The county tournament begins later this week, with play in games, then continues with first round games on the weekend of May 4. The quarterfinals will be on May 11 at the home of the higher seed before the tourney moves to Ivy Hill Park for the semifinals on Friday, May 17 and the championship game the following night.