Mount wins a pair at its tournament; Livingston splits 2, remains No. 1 in FMTC poll; Beware of West Essex

With a busy week coming up in Essex County softball, last Saturday’s Mount St. Dominic Invitational was a nice time to see the local teams playing schools from outside of Essex.

Livingston, which remains No. 1 in the FMTC Essex poll, split two games, dropping its first contest of the season to Pequannock, 4-3, before coming back to defeat Caravel Academy of Delaware, 6-3.

The host school looked really good, defeating Pennsbury of Pennsylvania, 10-0, then blanking High Point, 4-0, as freshman Kelsey Oh outdueled perhaps the best pitcher in the state, Ally Frei.

It’s hard to really grasp the meaning of an in-season tournament. For the kids, it’s a nice opportunity to see some unfamiliar faces, since the Essex circuit is a grind, with the Super Essex Conference and Essex County Tournament games taking up a bulk of the season.

On the other hand, since a lot of the kids play summer ball, they’ve gotten to know a lot of different players. Livingston’s Sammi Rothenberger was telling me she played with a few of the High Point kids, including Frei.

Anyway, playing two games, on a Saturday, provides a different dynamic than the usual game after school, and that was the case at MSDA.

But it was an excellent day at the Mount, with good weather, great food and camaraderie among the parents, players and fans throughout the day.

Mount St. Dominic and Immaculate Heart Academy both run nice early-season tourneys, with MSDA and Livingston competing in both, and doing a good job overall, with a 5-1 combined mark in the respective tourneys.

Livingston coach Jason Daily, who always says he never forgets the losses his team endures (and there aren’t many), was pleased with the way his team bounced back after losing its first game.

“We’re still working on a few things defensively,” said Daily. “We had some lapses on defense in the Pequannock game and you can’t do that against a team as talented as they are. We helped ourselves with some pick off plays in the field, but that was a game we eventually hurt ourselves in by not playing with the same focus we’re accustomed to.

“In the second game, we fell behind (3-1 in the fifth inning), but we found a way to come back and win a game against a very good team. When you leave the tournament with your last game being a win, it makes it a little easier.”

When the Lancers needed a boost in its game against Caravel, it got it from Seattle Slew, (Kylie McLaughlin), who laced a two-run triple in the bottom of the fifth to give her team a 4-3 lead.

Sammi Passeri continues to pitch well for Livingston (8-1) and the Lancers’ defense was much better in its second game of the day at MSDA.

And let’s not forget the tremendous defense and timely hitting by junior catcher Marina Lombardi of Livingston.This kid can flat out play.

The Lions of MSDA were dominant in its two games, including a 5-inning win in the first contest against Pennsbury.

But it was the second game, where Oh and Frei met up in a much-anticipated pitcher’s duel, which had the fans buzzing. Oh fanned 12 and walked none. Frei, for her part, was outstanding with 15 strikeouts, but her defense made some key mistakes which accounted for a pair of MSD runs in the sixth inning.

Ally Dabroski had a huge double, when she laced a long drive which hit the fence on a hop to drive in a pair of runs in the third inning.

Nutley and Bloomfield both won a pair of games at the Linden Tournament on April 19. With the upcoming Essex County Tournament seeding meeting set for April 22, it will be interesting to see who gets the seeds from 4-8.

Speaking of Nutley, I just have to say, one more time, the umpires who worked the Raiders’ game with River Dell last week at Ivy Hill Park, STUNK !



The top three seeds are pretty much set, with Livingston, Mount St. Dominic and West Essex expected to go 1, 2 and 3, but after that, it’s going to be interesting to see what the committee comes up with. A lot of teams are bunched together in the middle of the Essex County pack. The results of games on April 21 and 22 could go a long way to break the log jam at Tuesday’s seeding meeting.

West Essex may be one of those teams no one wants to play in the ECT, as well as conference games. The Knights have won four straight, starting with a win over Ridgewood last Sunday, which was keyed by Madison Gemma’s first varsity hit.

West Essex will face Livingston on April 24 and Mount St. Dominic the following day. The game with MSD will be interesting, since Gemma’s older sister, Olivia, is a key player for the Lions.

The Knights have been paced by a host of talented freshmen, including Gemma and pitcher  Canonero II, (Samantha Huetter). Also doing a great job have been Bridget Betley, Kelly Cousoulis, Kate Jencarelli, Rose Pezzuti, Kim Shaw and Jenna Saluce.

As for Tuesday’s seeding meeting for the 37th Essex County Tournament, still thinking Nutley would be the 4 seed, but after that, good luck.

Columbia dealt Bloomfield its only loss, Bloomfield edged Verona, Verona defeated Cedar Grove and Cedar Grove beat Caldwell. And while they’re not in this week’s top 10, don’t discount Newark Academy, which gave Livingston a great game the other day before losing a 3-2 decision.

It’s hard to believe Montclair Kimberley had only played four games through last Saturday, but coach Jess Sarfati’s team was 2-2 heading into a game on April 21.

MKA, Montclair, West Orange, Newark Academy, Belleville and Millburn will probably garner seeds from 11-16, in no particular order. And there will be some teams from the third division of the SEC which could be in the mix, too, from 11-16.

Look for a host of play-in games, perhaps with some teams playing twice in play-in contests, before the tourney hits the first round of games. Newark Academy actually made a big time run as a play-in team a few years back.

The committee will have plenty to talk about on Tuesday, for sure. Anyway, here is what I have for the weekly Top 10.

1-Livingston (8-1)

2-Mount St. Dominic (10-2)

3-West Essex (6-3)

4-Nutley (6-4)

5-Columbia (4-1-1)

6-Bloomfield (7-1)

7-Verona (4-4)

8-Cedar Grove (5-7)

9-Caldwell (5-6)

10-Glen Ridge (5-2-1)

STUD WATCH: No new stud names to add this week in Essex County. Here’s the updated list.

Kylie McLaughlin, Seattle Slew

Carly Anderson, Spectacular Bid

Sammi Rothenberger, Riva Ridge

Stef Thomas (Okay, she plays for IHA, but with Mr. Larezza, it’s an Essex thing, too…LOL) Affirmed

Sami Huetter, Canonero II

Gianna Genello, Smarty Jones

By mike051893

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