West Essex faced a good test on May 1 when it played host to Mount St. Dominic in a Super Essex Conference American Division matchup. The Knights, which had lost a close game to the Mount earlier in the season, dropped an 8-6 contest today, with five errors costing coach Andrea Mondadori’s team.
“We’re really close to breaking through,” Mondadori said. “But you can’t give teams extra outs and expect to win. We made too many errors today, plain and simple. But I give this team a lot of credit for battling back. We could have folded, and we didn’t. We made it a game, which shows we can play with the good teams, but we have to finish these games, too.”
Mondadori has had her share of successes since becoming head coach at West Essex eight years ago. She guided the 2006 and 2010 teams to sectional championships and led the ’07 squad to its first Essex County Tournament (ECT) title in nine years. The Knights also advanced to the 2010 ECT final and last year’s county semis.
Against Mount St. Dominic (15-3), the Knights gained a 2-0 lead, ironically on a pair of fielding errors by the Lions in the bottom of the second that accounted for two unearned runs. The Mount rallied in the top of the third with four unearned runs of its own, all of which could have been avoided with a catch of an infield pop up with two outs and two runners on base. Instead, the ball was dropped, a walk ensued, followed by a bases-loaded triple by Katie Johnson which gave MSD the lead for good, 3-2.
Olivia Gemma doubled home Johnson to make it 4-2 before a fly out ended the frame. In the fourth, MSD extended to a 7-2 lead, benefiting from three West Essex errors and a two-out, RBI single by Johnson.
West Essex (8-8) stormed back with four runs in the last of the fourth, scoring all four after there were two outs and no one on. It also took advantage of a two-out fielding error and pounded out six hits in the frame, forcing a pitching change to Sam Platt.
The Knights got a big two-run single by Jenny Shaw, as well as a run-scoring hit from Monica Onorata.
MSD added an insurance run in the fifth and Platt pitched 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, striking out four, walking one and scattering three hits. The Knights outhit the Lions, 11-10, but those errors may have been the difference.
“We’re getting there,” Mondadori said. “We’re just not there yet. There’s still a lot of games left and we’ve got plenty of goals, including advancing in the counties and making a run at a state sectional title. We can do it, and hopefully, this kind of game will help us.”