Not trying to compare the fun of softball in Essex County to the movie Warriors, but there was a scene at the end of that 1979 movie where the head of the Gramercy Riffs said to Swan, “You Warriors are good. Real good.”
That could have been said to West Essex coach Andrea Mondadori. after her team lost a 1-0, 8-inning thriller to the state’s top ranked team, Mount St. Dominic, on April 14, in North Caldwell.
West Essex is not only talented, but they’re pretty young, with a sophomore-laden team.
And they’re good.
The only thing missing would be Mondo responding “the best”, which of course, she’s not going to do, because no one really knows yet how good this team is.
If you saw them play the Mount, one thing is for sure. West Essex can catch the ball. The infield defense is tremendous. And no one is hiding in the outfield, either.
The battery is solid, with sophomore pitcher Sami Huetter, (Canonero II) throwing very well, and senior catcher Rose Pezzuti looking great after a leg injury curtailed her 2014 season.
There’s no hiding it anymore, Huetter is the real deal. She’s incredibly poised in the circle and the velocity on her pitches is outstanding. Pezzuti adds of level of calmness and stability behind the plate. She also has a very good throwing arm.
Rose Pezzuti, sliding into second in this 2012 photo, is now a senior and playing well for West Essex as the team’s starting catcher.
The ‘other’ Canonero II.
Kate Jencarelli plays a wicked first base, Madison Gemma is settling in well at second base, Bridget Betley can flat out play, Amanda Garofalo runs with the best of them, Alexa Vardiman and Monica Onorata are key pieces to this team’s success, not to mention Amanda Schwartz.
West Essex is in the midst of a crazy week. The Knights defeated Bloomfield on April 13 before playing the Mount on April 14. Key games with Nutley (April 15) and Livingston (April 16) will be followed by an out-of-conference game on Sunday, April 19, against powerful Northern Highlands at the EDSAF Tournament.
“We’re not ducking anyone,” Mondadori said with that patented laugh shortly after the game with Mount St. Dominic. “Our kids are coming around and they’re playing hard. They were ready for a big effort today against the Mount, but we can’t dwell on this. Nutley and Livingston are back to back, then we play Northern Highlands.”
The EDSAF tourney is certainly close to the Mondadori family. The tournament benefits Ari Solimando, a 2004 Emerson High graduate and former catcher for then head coach Steve Mondadori, who was paralyzed in an accident back in 2003.
Steve Mondadori is Andrea’s dad and for many years, Steve’s team would play Andrea’s West Essex team in the tourney. Steve coached at Emerson, then for a few seasons at St. Mary (Ruth.) before retiring as a coach at the end of the 2013 season.
Andrea Mondadori and her father, Steve.
The tournament is held over two days and features a number of excellent softball programs in Northern New Jersey.