The annual Mount St. Dominic Invitational was held on April 25, with near perfect weather and plenty of good softball at the Mount’s home complex in Caldwell.
First and foremost, the tournament was well run, as usual. MSD head coach Lorenzo Sozio puts a lot of time and effort into the event, which attracts some solid teams throughout New Jersey, as well as Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Four Essex County schools participated, including, of course, the host team, which was 2-0, with two exciting games, including a scintillating come-from-behind victory in the second game against a very good Notre Dame team.
Livingston, which has been playing in the tourney since 2012, was 1-1, losing to Arthur L. Johnson, but then rebounding with an 11-6 victory over Red Lion Christian Academy, of Delaware.
The Lancers had actually fallen behind by a 5-1 count early in the second game before head coach Jason Daily made an unusual move, basically changing his entire lineup, midstream, in favor of younger, less experienced players who clearly wanted to make an impression with valuable playing time.
Livingston (8-4) took control behind the pitching of Sydney ‘Syd The Kid’ McCormack and some aggressive bats. While this was a young Lancers team, a lot of coaches who were watching the game, were really impressed by the young talent in green and white.
Caldwell’s 5-4 victory over Paramus Catholic was a big confidence builder for the Chiefs, who had lost a 16-2 contest to West Essex a day earlier.
Senior pitcher Cayla Lombardi pitched a complete game for the win. Lombardi bore down in the final three innings to keep the Paladins off the scoreboard. She also made a key tag at home plate, after a runner from third attempted to score the tying run, on a wild pitch. Caldwell catcher Christina Guarino chased after the errant toss and threw to Lombardi, who made the tag on a close play at the plate. (You’ll be hearing more about Guarino, a sophomore, who is a really good catcher).
And what can you say about the defense of senior shortstop Gianna Genello (AKA Smarty Jones)? The Rowan-bound spark plug is the catalyst at the top of the lineup, and also made two sparkling defensive plays, including one which stopped a PC rally in the third inning and kept Caldwell in the lead.
Jessica Mattheiss drove in three runs for the Chiefs, including a big triple in the first when Caldwell (11-3) opened a 4-0 lead.
“This was a good win for us,” said Caldwell coach Mike Teshkoyan. “It can go a long way in what is a good season for our kids.”
Newark Academy dropped a 10-7 contest to Raritan in the final game of the tourney, but N.A. coach Sergio Rodriguez likes what he’s seeing from a young Minuteman team.
“They’re great kids to coach,” said Rodriguez of his team. “We’re looking to make a mark this year, and I like what the future holds for us, too. We’re still pretty young.”
As for Mount St. Dominic, the Lions improved to 16-1 by defeating Pequannock, 6-4, and Notre Dame, 7-3. MSD actually trailed, 3-0, to Notre Dame, but came back quickly, with five runs, then put it away with a pair of runs in the seventh.
When adversity was a possibility, the Lions rebounded like champions. The team won a state title last year, but did lose six key players to graduation. Despite that, they’re on quite a run so far this season, and have to be favorites to repeat, even if the coaching staff sticks to the ‘we’re just trying to get better’ line.
Kelsey Oh was the winning pitcher in both games, as the sophomore righty continues to dominate with an overpowering fast ball. For three straight weekends, the Lions have impressed, winning at Rancocas Valley, the Wendy’s Classic in Ohio and now at their own tourney.
It was great seeing Montclair coach Phil Delgado at the tourney. While Delgado’s team wasn’t playing at MSD on Saturday, it’s rare when you won’t see him near a softball game. The guy loves the sport and has quickly established himself as an up-and-coming coach in Essex County. Really nice man, too.
Sozio’s one-time high school football coach, Chet Parlavecchio, was on hand, too, and quite proud to see Lorenzo’s Lions playing very well.
Sozio played football for Parlavecchio at Bloomfield High in 1987 and 1988. In 1988, Sozio quarterbacked the Bengals to a 7-0 win over Paramus Catholic, which broke a long Bloomfield losing skid.
After three years of coaching in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans, Parlavecchio was recently named head football coach at Passaic Valley High and his daughter, Nicole, is doing some softball coaching at Johnson Regional, which was playing in the MSD tourney.
“It’s important for me to support my kids in their coaching endeavors,” Parlavecchio told me. “I’m always proud of my daughter and couldn’t wait to see her work today.”
As Chet was watching the Notre Dame-MSD game, he turned to me and said, “Mike, these teams are really good. This is great stuff!”
Chet Parlavecchio, Jr., is currently an assistant football coach at Delbarton. And speaking of Delbarton, that school’s highly successful wrestling coach, Bryan Stoll, was on hand to watch some of the tourney on Saturday.
One of the real nice men in Essex County made an appearance. John McCarthy recently wrote a book entitled ‘What Would Yogi Do‘, and I can’t wait to read it. (Much more on that coming soon).
Anyone who follows high school softball knows well, Mr. Ed Bates. Well, Eddie, who was railing about Mount St. Dominic during a recent game between Livingston and Montclair, was at the MSD Tourney, wearing Lions gear !!! (What’s up with that ??)
Later, when Ed thought about wearing some Notre Dame regalia, he was worried Sozio might have him thrown out of the ball park.
“It’s Lorenzo’s turf,” Bates was heard saying, after others assured him Sozio wouldn’t have him removed. “Can’t mess with the Mount on their home field.”
When Ed was last seen, he was wondering who would drive him back to his Montclair home following the tourney. I’m sure he got back safe and sound.
During the Caldwell game, Cayla Lombardi’s dad, Carl, was telling me some great stories of his childhood. Carl Lombardi’s dad was once a minor league teammate of Mickey Mantle.
That probably explains while Cayla wears No. 7 on her Caldwell jersey.
All in all, it was a fun day of softball at the Mount. Even Caldwell University softball coach Dean Johnson was there to keep us all entertained.