39 consecutive scoreless innings, with 13 hits allowed.
6 straight shutouts.
7-game winning streak.
Scary numbers for the Mount St. Dominic Academy Lions, which will take a 14-2 record into another big week of Super Essex Conference play, along with a game on May 3, against the state’s top team, Immaculate Heart Academy, in Saddle Brook.
Since it last lost a game on April 12 to a team from Ohio at the Wendy’s Classic, MSDA has outscored its last seven opponents by a combined 61-1, through games of April 26.
That offense has been paced by Helyna Bissell, who had five homers and 14 RBI.
And you can’t pitch around Bissell, because the Lions’ offense is loaded. It features Elizabeth Cowell, Ashley Kowalski, Sam Platt, Olivia Gemma and Gabby Lombardi, all of whom swing the bat with effectiveness. And starting pitcher Kelsey Oh hit a grand-slam homer in a recent win over West Essex.
How about the defense? The answer there is simple. Not fancy, but so effective, with players seemingly always in the right position.
And pitching? Are you kidding? This team probably has the deepest pitching staff in North Jersey, with Oh, a hard-throwing freshman, seeing a lot of time in the circle, but there’s also Ms. Platt, a senior who has plenty of experience in big games and Gemma, who was the starting pitcher as a freshman when MSDA made it to the Essex County final.
While the Stevens Institute of Technology-bound Gemma hasn’t seen a lot of time in the circle in 2014, she starts at first base and is a main cog in the lineup. And she could be a huge factor in the circle, too, come tournament time.
But back to the pitching, which has been tremendous all season, and nearly untouchable during the recent winning streak. After blanking a very good Middletown South team on April 26, the Lions pitching had accounted for 39 consecutive scoreless innings and just 13 hits allowed. Only Nutley was able to score a run on the Lions in the fourth inning of an eventual 6-1 MSDA victory on April 16.
As good as they’ve been, the Mount is seeded second for the upcoming Essex County Tournament to Livingston, which handed MSDA one of its two losses this season. The Lancers have also won the past two Super Essex Conference and ECT championships.
The teams are scheduled to meet on May 2 in a SEC game. A third matchup could occur on May 17, in the county final, which would mark a third straight ECT championship matchup between the two schools.
For Mount St. Dominic, coached by Lorenzo Sozio, it will be seeking its first county title in five years and fifth overall under Sozio’s leadership. It also has its sights on that elusive NJSIAA title, as well, in Non-Public A.
And while there’s a lot of softball yet to play, a combination of tremendous pitching, timely hitting and opportunistic defense will make these Lions a tough group to beat, especially in big games.
TID BITS: Livingston has some kind of week ahead, with five games in six days. The Lancers play at Bloomfield (April 28), home to Wall (April 29), at Nutley (April 30), home to Mount St. Dominic (May 2) and a first-round home county tournament game on May 3. They also have to make up a home game with Nutley, which was postponed because of rain in early April, to be made up sometime in May.
While the SEC American Division is a two-team race between Livingston and The Mount, the SEC Liberty Division is wide open. Verona swept Glen Ridge in the season series, Glen Ridge had a big win over Bloomfield and swept Belleville, Newark Academy may be back on the trail now after a huge win over Columbia and suddenly Belleville is in the mix, after wins against Newark Academy and Bloomfield.
Belleville, coached by Chris Cantarella, had a big game on April 28 in a SEC crossover contest against Cedar Grove.
Montclair Kimberley still hasn’t played a lot of league games, so they’re certain to make some noise, either as a contender, or spoiler, over the next month.
STUD UPDATE: No new studs to add to the Essex stable this week…But gotta stay that while High Point is not the FMTC Network, Ally Frei has to be called Citation. Unbelievable pitcher.
Seattle Slew, Riva Ridge, Smarty Jones, Spectacular Bid and Canonero II are still the Essex horses, but there will be a few new ones shortly…
UPDATED TOP 10
2-Mount St. Dominic (14-2)
3-West Essex (8-5)
7-Glen Ridge (8-3-1)