It’s just a week into the 2016 regular season, but already a few teams are making it known they’re ready for the challenges that lay ahead.
Mount St. Dominic proved its championship pedigree, by rallying from a 4-2 deficit to defeat West Essex, 6-4, at home, in Caldwell.
Nutley continued to roll in the early going, defeating Montclair, behind a tremendous performance by Emily Holden.
And Cedar Grove provided new head coach Nicole Velardi her first win on the varsity level, as the Panthers defeated Bloomfield, 5-1.
Prior to today, West Essex and Mount St. Dominic last met in the 2015 Essex County Tournament final, and the results weren’t too good for the Knights, which dropped a one-sided decision.
This time, it was different, as West Essex took a two-run lead into the fifth inning, before the two-time defending county champions rallied with four runs to win, 6-4.
Mount St. Dominic (3-0) opened a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but West Essex (1-1) chipped away, scoring a run in the second, then tying it in the fourth on a homer by Bridget Betley.
In the top of the fifth, West Essex scored twice for a 4-2 lead, but Mount St. Dominic battled back, scoring four times in the bottom of the frame, with the key blast, a three-run homer, on an 0-2 count by Julianna Kocenski.
West Essex coach Andrea Mondadori called it a very exciting game.
“I thought our kids swing the bats well,” said Mondadori. “It was a very good game. Our team was disappointed, but you have credit the Mount. Their kid hit a good pitch. That’s what good teams do. Our pitcher (Sami Huetter) threw a tremendous game.
“We’ll learn from this. We’ve got a game Sunday, (at the Anthony LaRezza Invitational) against a good Caravel (Del.) team, then a busy week coming up.”
Madison Gemma, Alexa Vardiman (Funny Cide) and Rachel Rodriguez all hit doubles for West Essex, with Betley and Gemma each collecting two hits in the game. Huetter (Canonero II) struck out five and allowed just three hits.
Mount St. Dominic’s brilliant junior hurler, Kelsey Oh, struck out 14 and gave up six hits, and Elizabeth Cowell scored twice and drove in a run for the Lions.
For MSDA, the win was its 35th straight against Essex County opponents, dating back to 2014. West Essex was seeking its first win against Mount St. Dominic since 2012 and its first victory against the Lions, at MSDA, since 2010.
At Nutley, the Raiders pulled away late and defeated Montclair, 8-0. Nutley improved to 3-0 on the season and were paced by senior pitcher Emily Holden, who spun a two-hitter in the circle and was 3-for-4 at the plate, with four RBI.
Breanna DeMaio hit a homer for Nutley, to the put Raiders on the board, in the second inning.
Montclair continues to show signs of becoming a good team, but some key errors did them in today.
“You can’t give a team like Nutley extra at-bats,” said Montclair coach Phil Delgado. “We have to get better. I saw some good things today. But we have to hit, and we need to recognize situations and react better. There’s no room, in this division, to let down.”
Cedar Grove got its first win of the season, defeating Bloomfield, 5-1. It was the first win for new head coach Nicole Velardi. The Panthers had dropped its first two games, including a 5-2 contest at home, on April 7, to West Essex.
Bloomfield, which won its first game two days earlier against Montclair, fell to 1-3.
Don’t forget that this Saturday’s Lions Softball Invitational, at Mount St. Dominic, has been pushed back to Sunday, April 17 because of the expected inclement weather on April 9.