In the annals of Essex County softball, most in the know are aware of Jess Peslak’s dominance in the circle for Livingston High School.
I’ll admit that I’ve run the gamut, calling her Secretariat because of the speed in which she throws a ball, as well as her overall competitive spirit, not to mention getting your popcorn ready for when Peslak pitches.
But there’s another side to her, the scholarly part, and one of the most prestigious organizations in New Jersey will be presenting her its highest honor on May 15 for her high school accolades as a student-athlete.
Peslak will receive the Essex Award at the annual Men of Essex Dinner on Wednesday, May 15 at the Newark Airport Marriott Hotel. The dinner begins at 7 p.m. and tickets are $65.00 each.
I first remember her as a freshman in 2010, with that scintillating fast ball, dark sunglasses and perpetual smile, after a win, or loss. She gained All Essex County honors that season and after a solid sophomore year in 2011, Peslak broke loose, in a Secretariat-type way last spring to finish 26-1, with a 0.32 ERA. She struck out 307 in 175 2/3 innings while waking 37, on her way to first team, All-State accolades. Peslak also had 19 shutouts, five no-hitters and nine one-hitters, and hit .324 as Livingston put together a 29-1 season, including conference, county and state sectional championships.
This year, she’s pitching well again as the Lancers were 12-3 through games of April 24. Livingston also gained the top seed for the 36th Essex County Tournament and is tied with Mount St. Dominic for the Super Essex Conference’s American Division lead. The two teams will meet on April 29 for the second time in what could decide the conference title and may be destined for a third showdown in the Essex County Tournament final on May 18.
Livingston coach Jason Daily was ecstatic for Peslak.
“As a coach, these are the moments that mean so much,” Daily said. “We all know how good a pitcher Jess is, but to see her academic accomplishments acknowledged, and knowing what a tremendous young person she is, exemplifies the student-athlete that she has been over the last four years. She’s the third from Livingston to ever get this honor and the first female. I couldn’t be happier and more proud of what she represents to our team, school and community.”
Peslak will attend Hofstra University, a NCAA Division 1 program, this fall, where she’ll continue playing softball. An excellent student at Livingston, she has aspirations to be an attorney, focusing on contract and tort law. She’s the daughter of Ed and Jean Peslak.
“We’re obviously thrilled,” Ed Peslak said after learning of his daughter’s selection by the Men of Essex. “Jess loves competing in softball, but she also realizes the importance of education and it’s great to see her being recognized for her hard work in both areas. Jean and I are always proud of her.”
So, get your popcorn ready and gear up for next month, when the Triple Crown races begin again.