West Essex coach Andrea Mondadori just shook her head, smiled and acknowledged the Big Green Machine from Livingston is still the team to beat in the rugged Super Essex Conference.
“(Man), can they hit,” said Mondadori in that familiar voice. “You can’t give them extra outs, or it’s forget about it. Everybody in that lineup just swings the bat. And (Livingston coach) Jason (Daily) has them in the right place on the field on defense, too. They’re just really good.”
Livingston, behind the bats of Kylie McLaughlin, Samantha Rotenberger and Marina Lombardi scored two runs in the first, then used a six-run fourth inning to put the game out of reach, en route to a 9-1 victory over West Essex on April 1, in Livingston, in the season opener for both teams.
Livingston also got a solid pitching effort from Sam Passeri, who threw strikes and kept the Knights off balance. Livingston’s star pitcher, Jess Peslak, was graduated last June after a stellar career. While Passeri doesn’t have Peslak’s velocity, her composure in the circle impressed Daily.
“Hey, West Essex can play,” Daily said. “There are no easy outs in the lineup, either. Sam had good control and made some clutch pitches at the right time. I have three kids who can pitch on the varsity level this year and they should all see work. This season will be a lot of moving parts for us. I like this team, but we have kids who can play different positions and we’ll make changes, depending on the situation.”
McLaughlin, a two-time All State player and the ‘Seattle Slew’ of the team for her speed, led off the bottom of the first with a triple and scored on Lombardi’s double in the gap to give Livingston a quick 1-0 lead.
Trailing 2-0 in the third, West Essex cut the lead in half on a pair of walks and a clutch two-out single by Kate Jencarelli. But Livingston broke it open in the fourth inning on a RBI single by Seattle Slew and a three-run double by Rothenberger.
Jenny Shaw pitched the first five innings for West Essex before Mondadori inserted freshman Samantha Huetter, who pitched a scoreless sixth and struck out three.
West Essex’s Rose Pezzuti played a solid third base and could be her team’s most versatile player.
HARRY’S CORNER: This section is a list of blurbs on the Essex County softball scene, after discussion with my man, Harry…
A couple of early observations. Nutley looked good in defeating Caldwell, 6-2, today. Carly Anderson was solid in the circle for the Raiders. It was also good to see Cayla Lombardi pitching for the Chiefs again after getting hurt early in the 2013 season.
The SEC American Division should be wide open this year, too, as Montclair and West Orange are much improved.
Cedar Grove will host Livingston on Thursday at Panther Park in what could be an interesting game. The Panthers won its opener over West Orange today while Mount St. Dominic downed Montclair.
The influx of young pitching in the SEC will make for some good games, too.