Nutley’s been in a stretch where it seems to be playing every day. The Raiders defeated Bloomfield on April 18, 9-0, at The Pond, behind another solid pitching effort by senior lefty Emily Holden, the new Genuine Risk.
With an April 19 game scheduled at Lenape Valley, it will be the fifth straight day the Raiders have played. The streak started on April 15, with a 1-0 win over Mount St. Dominic, then continued with a 2-0 setback to Morris Knolls, at Ivy Hill, on April 16. Shutout wins over Pequannock, on April 17, and Bloomfield a day later, set the stage for Tuesday’s game at Lenape Valley. After an actual day off, the team is back on the field for a home game on April 21, then heads south to Raritan for a tournament game on April 23.
Through it all, Holden has asked for, and gotten the ball, as the team’s starting pitcher, and she’s been nearly flawless. In her two losses, the Raiders have scored one run for her. Holden’s bat has also been consistent. In the win over Mount St. Dominic, she had the only hit off of junior righty, Kelsey Oh.
In a loss to West Essex, Holden was just as impressive, matching up against the Knights’ Canonero II (Sami Huetter). Her work was so good there that a number of West Essex players couldn’t help but rave about her performance afterward.
As good a player Holden is, on the field, her demeanor and leadership qualities, off the field, have drawn raves from her coaches.
Nutley’s streak of games didn’t seem to bother Zullo.
“When we were in Florida in March, we played every day, and that’s the kind of thing we do every spring,” said Zullo. “So, when we get into a stretch of games like this, it shouldn’t be a problem. I did ask Emily before Sunday’s game (at the Lions Invitational) if she felt she could pitch, after having thrown the night before, and she said she was ready. That’s the kind of kid she is.”
With the graduation of stud pitcher and shortstop, Carly Anderson, last spring, there might have been questions whether Holden, who had done her share of pitching the past few seasons, would be ready to take the lead as Nutley’s No. 1 pitcher.
The answer is obvious. Nutley’s 7-2 record speaks for itself.
And not to be forgotten is senior shortstop Stefanie Ziemer. A starter as a freshman, Ziemer struggled with her confidence in 2014. But she’s become a key player, both in the field, and in the bottom of the lineup as a reliable hitter. Ziemer helped Nutley to a state sectional title last year, and she’s been the model of consistency so far in 2016.
She just made her decision to attend Monmouth University this fall, and while she won’t be playing on the collegiate level, it’s hard to believe she won’t stay involved with the game, in some capacity.
“Stefanie is one of the nicest and hardest working kids I’ve ever been around,” said Zullo. “She’s such a good kid. She was actually brushed by a pitch in the Pequannock game last Sunday. We saw it, but the home plate umpire didn’t. Stefanie didn’t say anything to the umpire, because that’s the way she is. We told her, ‘just go to first base next time’. We laughed about it, but that’s the way she is. She just plays the game and is great with her teammates.”
Stefanie and her dad, Bill, enjoy a nice father-daughter moment after a Nutley win.